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Colorado’s crew of centers will lead the way

Aug 19, 2013, 11:15 AM EDT

Matt Duchene Getty Images

Say what you will about the Colorado Avalanche but one thing you have to admit is they’re loaded with talent up the middle.

They were already a strong team last season at the center position with Paul Stastny, a revitalized Matt Duchene, and a retained Ryan O’Reilly. This summer they added No. 1 overall pick in the draft Nathan MacKinnon and suddenly the Avs aren’t lacking for scoring ability anywhere at the pivot.

With four guys who could run the show at center, coach Patrick Roy already said he was relieving the logjam by moving O’Reilly to left wing to relieve the pressure. It’s a good problem to have if you’re a first-time NHL coach but it shows how much the Avalanche have going for them.

As it is, Roy mapped out how he sees his top three lines as is and it looks good.

Alex Tanguay – Paul Stastny – Gabriel Landeskog
Ryan O’Reilly – Matt Duchene – P.A. Parenteau
Jamie McGinn – Nathan MacKinnon – Steve Downie

If MacKinnon comes as advertised, the Avs are rolling with three lines that can put the puck in the net. McGinn has shown the ability to finish and Downie, who’s returning from injury, can score a little and get rough as needed.

There’s a lot to like about what the Avs have going up front and the kind of production they got from Duchene (17-26-43) and Stastny (9-15-24) last season shows the top two lines will be well taken care of. Duchene and Parenteau each had 43 points last year. A healthy Landeskog and Tanguay should help Stastny pick up his offense.

If nothing else this season, the Avs will be able to score goals in bunches.

  1. stepanup - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Their games against the Oilers will be fun. The transition from defense to offense will likely struggle, and Varlomov won’t be able to steal enough games them into the playoffs. The Avs will be incredibly entertaining though.

    • govtminion - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Considering who the new coach is, I have a feeling Varlamov is trying out for his job with the first half of the season. If Roy doesn’t like what he sees, Varlamov may become trade bait at the deadline. But, who knows, learning the job from one of the greatest of all time can’t hurt his development, maybe he’ll flourish here?

      • stepanup - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        I’d agree, but it’s one thing for management to want to get a better player, and it’s another for management to actually find that player at a fair price. I think Varlamov will have a leash, he’s still a young player and has shown he’s NHL-caliber. A goalie can only be as good as his defense at times though. See: Buffalo Sabres.

      • govtminion - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:31 PM

        That’s a fair point, and in Varlamov’s favor he’s never had a true NHL-caliber defense in front of him (seriously, did you SEE the Capitals’ blue line?). That said, if anyone is going to have a short tolerance for bad goaltending, it’s Roy. Varlamov can’t afford to have off-nights this year.

  2. withseidelinn - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    I like the McGinn-Mackinnon-Downie line a lot. Downie and McGinn have the ability to bury a couple and with the speed/passing ability of Mackinnon, they should see their offensive numbers increase. Downie can also throw his body around well and protect Mackinnon if needed. Hopefully he can just stay healthy for once.

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