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Colorado’s defense could lead to an avalanche of goals against

Aug 19, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT

Erik Johnson, Mike Brown AP

One thing the Avalanche weren’t very good at last season was preventing opponents from scoring goals. They were 27th in goals allowed which was a leading reason why they wound up in the NHL Draft lottery and picking first overall.

A big part of the blame for that fell on their defensemen. Bad news Avs fans: Not much has changed back there.

The two subtractions from last year’s team were Shane O’Brien and Greg Zanon. The latter was brought in to be a defensive stopper and failed to do much stopping at all. Meanwhile, O’Brien struggled to get into the lineup most of the season.

The only addition made to this year’s team was Cory Sarich who came over in a four-player swap with Calgary and he played rough third-pairing minutes on an equally defensively inept Flames team. He also wasn’t very good.

There are a couple of young guys who offer hope and will get thrown into the fire more this season.

Tyson Barrie is just 21-years-old but he led the team in average time on ice over his 32 games (21:35). Incredibly, he also led all defensemen in points with 13. His advanced numbers were strong which means he could (should?) see more responsibility on the blue line.

Likewise, Stefan Elliott, 22,  should get more time this season. In 18 games last season he had a goal and three assists and, like Barrie, put up respectable advanced numbers. The play of those two made it acceptable to part ways with Zanon and O’Brien.

The rest of the group with Hunwick, Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson, and Andre Benoit all offer complementary parts but not an overly dominating game.

Johnson should be the best of the bunch but has never taken the reins as a true No. 1 defenseman. Hejda is their “defensive stopper” and Wilson has a steady all-around game. Benoit and Hunwick could wind up fighting for the sixth spot with Sarich.

Long story short, it’s a flawed bunch with a pair of hopeful youngsters and a third, Duncan Siemens, waiting down the road. Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere had better be ready for another busy season in goal.

  1. avfanforlife - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Still time (and cap money) for another trade to score a #1 D-man. C’mon Joe – Let’s Make A Deal!

  2. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Sheldon Brookbank may well be available for a draft pick.

  3. jpelle82 - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    considering they drafted all defense after mckinnon, at least they are paying some kind of attention to the blue line. still time to do something to fix it in the short term i guess…a band-aid aint gonna stop the bleeding in my opinion though

  4. redridershoottheireyeout - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Roy better be ready to instill some work ethic in some of those kids, after JSG’s public blasting of some of his teammates lack of focus last year there could be some feathers flying in the chicken coop early in camp.

    • avfanforlife - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      JSG’s remarks were just what they needed to hear. Sacco couldn’t handle it, so JS did.

    • jernster21 - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      JSG’s comments were indirectly made to Shane O’Brien….who is no longer with the team.

  5. 19to77 - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Should move Stastny or O’Reilly for defense. Having four top-six centres mean you can afford to move one. Also, offer-sheet Franson. The Leafs don’t have the cap space to lock their RFAs up as it is – let alone if someone else is setting the price.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      Actually the Sharks used that well in the 2010-2011 offseason. They offered on Hjalmarsson, Hawks mached, leaving them with no cap room to match on Neimi.

    • govtminion - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Stastny is possible, but not sure what you’d really get out of him-his trade stock would have to be way down at this point. O’Reilly… I think I seem to remember, based on the contract issue, that he can’t be traded for one calendar year after the contract signing or something to that effect (then again, I drink a lot, so I’m known to be wrong- does that sound familiar to anyone else?)

      • 19to77 - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        Keep some salary and ship to Phoenix for Derek Morris?

      • jernster21 - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        Toronto has been in love with Stastny for years and would fit as the #1 center on that team, but they apparently never wanted to pay the asking price.

      • jernster21 - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:19 PM

        Derek Morris was never a guy any Avs follower has ever said “we shouldn’t have got rid of that guy”. If you ask yourself whether the Avs are a better team without Stastny and with Morris, I would say they aren’t, but that’s my opinion.

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