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Avalanche Daily Roundtable: Healthy forwards create a logjam

AJ Haefele Avatar
April 28, 2020

Here on the Avalanche side of DNVR, we’re going to start doing something a little bit different. Today begins us tackling a daily question in which all three of the main contributors to DNVR Avalanche will chime in.

With a committee now created to help facilitate a return to hockey, the wheels of progress towards a resumption of the season have begun to move.

Today’s topic: Assuming the season does resume, the Avalanche will likely be at full health for the first time since October. If Colin Wilson is healthy, does he factor into the Avalanche lineup, or do they only turn to him if there is another injury?

AJ: I find myself really torn on this one. On one hand, Colin Wilson missed essentially the entire season and the team found plenty of success without him. Then as I went back and watched some of the playoff games from last year as part of the DNVR Watches series, I couldn’t stop noticing what a force Wilson was at times. That was obviously a different team with a different makeup but it was a good reminder to me that when he has been healthy in his Colorado tenure, Wilson has been a pretty effective player. The big thing that sticks out to me is that Wilson excels along the boards and making plays down low, an area where Colorado struggled more this year to generate offense. With several months between potential “regular season” games, I think Wilson would be in real contention for the lineup. He’s just too reliable when healthy.

Evan: Assuming he is healthy, which it sounds like he is according to Ryan Graves, I don’t think he’d be put back in right away, and would be counted on as depth in case of injury. It seems like light years ago, but Bednar didn’t even have Wilson in the opening night lineup because he had injury troubles through the preseason. This team is very deep up front, and I would say there are 11 forwards that are a lock to play when things get back, with the final spot coming down to Tyson Jost and Matt Nieto. Given Jost was being used on the penalty kill before the world shut down, and was playing quite well, I think he’d get the nod there, and guys like Nieto and Wilson are injury backup. I just can’t see Bednar immediately turning to a guy who hasn’t played since October with the options he has.

Rudo: Wilson has become the odd man out for two reasons. Firstly the Avs acquisition of Vlad Namestnikov and his success in the handful of games before the season was suspended. Coincidentally Vlad cost the Avs a 4th round pick just the same as Wilson and has fit a similar role like a glove. Namestnikov is the organization’s new hotness and Wilson spent the majority of the season as the definition of old and busted. The second factor is the emergence of Val Nichushkin as not just a borderline Selke candidate but an effective offensive piece. In an organization that has stressed earning it, Val has done exactly that. This is how injuries, especially to bottom-six types are supposed to go; they create opportunities for players to steal a job, and Wilson has fallen victim to that.

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