CENTENNIAL, Colo.--With more cuts expected in the coming days, tonight's preseason game at the Vegas Golden Knights could be the last chance for several players to make their case for being on the Colorado Avalanche's opening-night roster.
"You have to seize the opportunity every time one presents itself," said forward A.J. Greer, who will suit up in his third exhibition outing with Colorado this month. "It might be a big one, it might be a small one, but you got to make something out of it. You got to have the most visibility out there. That is what I've been trying to do and staying positive and hope for the best. Do the things that you've done to get yourself in this position."
The Avs' current preseason roster has 37 players on it, but the team needs to get down to the league-mandated 23-man active roster by the time it opens the regular season in eight days on Oct. 3 against the Calgary Flames.
Colorado has one more preseason game remaining after this evening, with the squad playing at the Dallas Stars on Saturday. With at least two more rounds of roster cuts on the horizon, standing out among their peers while also being a good teammate is key for the players on the supposed bubble.
"It's competing for pucks, doing the right things. It's not just on the offensive side of things, but the defensive side of things as well," said forward Sheldon Dries. "Being in the right position and being a good teammate. If you do all of those things, you'll put yourself in a good spot."
Video: Dries talks about trying to make the Avs' roster
Both Dries and Greer are battling with a handful of other players for only a few openings that appear to be available on the Avs' opening-night roster. Dries was among the last players standing last season, as he earned an NHL spot following camp and played in the Avalanche's season opener.
"Last year I was very tenacious and this year I want to be the same way," Dries said. "I might be smaller in stature, but I want to compete hard on every puck, every battle. Be a great teammate, be great on faceoffs, great winger, whatever position I'm in, I want to succeed in that."
Greer has had strong training camps before and has been among the last to be cut, but he's looking to finally break through and begin the year in the NHL and stay there through the spring. He has skated in 37 games with the Avs over the past three seasons.
"Personally, I think I've done pretty well and have given everything that I've got," Greer said of his camp this year. "I don't have any regrets on that end. As far as a team standpoint, everybody is fighting for jobs so to be able to compete here and have a week left before the regular season to show your abilities is a great feeling."
Video: A.J. Greer interview before preseason game at Vegas
Dries and Greer won't be alone in their quest to showcase their abilities this evening, as Colorado's roster will mostly feature young players with limited or no NHL experience. Of the 20 players the Avs are sending to Vegas, only Matt Calvert, Kevin Connauton, Valeri Nichushkin, Matt Nieto and Nikita Zadorov played full seasons in the NHL last year..
The Avalanche hosted two practices on Wednesday at Family Sports Center, with the first group featuring the game players skating with the coaching staff before heading to the airport for the day trip to Vegas.
The second, non-playing group did drills with Colorado on-ice performance consultant Shawn Allard. Among the players skating were Colin Wilson and Ian Cole, who are both recovering from offseason surgeries. Cole had surgery on both of his hips over the summer, while Wilson had a shoulder procedure and has been sidelined during camp by a lower-body muscle tweak.
Pavel Francouz was the first netminder off the ice and is expected to get the start for the Avalanche. Nikita Zadorov will be making his preseason debut after missing much of the past week with a lower-body injury.
The Avalanche's game this evening won't be televised in Colorado's market, but a live radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio FM 92.5 and AM 950 in the Denver area or online at AltitudeSportsRadio.com.
The Vegas Golden Knights are televising the game locally on KTNV, with it streamed online at NHL.tv (subject to blackouts).
Game time is at 8 p.m. MT. Click here to follow along with the action at ColoradoAvalanche.com.
Avalanche Roster at Vegas Golden Knights
Preseason (Sept. 25, 2019)
|32 ||Hunter Miska ||G |
|39 ||Pavel Francouz ||G |
|5 ||Dan Renouf ||D |
|7 ||Kevin Connauton ||D |
|11 ||Matt Calvert ||LW |
|12 ||Jayson Megna ||C |
|13 ||Valeri Nichushkin ||RW |
|14 ||Shane Bowers ||C |
|15 ||Sheldon Dries ||C |
|16 ||Nikita Zadorov ||D |
|20 ||Conor Timmins ||D |
|24 ||A.J. Greer ||LW |
|25 ||Logan O'Connor ||RW |
|34 ||Jacob MacDonald ||D |
|36 ||TJ Tynan ||C |
|45 ||Bowen Byram ||D |
|48 ||Calle Rosen ||D || |
|61 ||Martin Kaut ||RW |
|81 ||Vladislav Kamenev ||C |
|83 ||Matt Nieto ||LW |
|88 ||Michael Joly ||RW |
|No. ||Name ||Pos |