With the reassignments of forward Mike Carman and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on Wednesday, the Avalanche’s roster now stands at 27 players heading into the team’s final two preseason contests.
And as the regular season draws near, it’s nearly impossible for fans to examine the roster and not try to figure out which players might stick with the club and which ones will be hoping to be recalled from Lake Erie when the Avalanche needs reinforcements later in the year.
If injured forwards David Koci and Peter Mueller
begin the season on Injured Reserve, that means the Avalanche would only need to make two more cuts before the Oct. 7 season opener to get down to the NHL’s roster maximum of 23 active players. If one or both of them is ready for the season opener, that would lead to more cuts being made.
Not counting the two aforementioned players, Colorado currently has 15 healthy forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders on its current preseason roster. Teams typically carry two reserve forwards (14 total), one reserve defenseman (seven total) and two goaltenders during the regular season, but it’s not completely abnormal for a club to carry just one extra player up front (13 total) and two on the back end (eight total).
Putting the numbers game aside, nothing is set in stone for the handful of players still trying to grab one of the final roster spots.
“It would be down to a couple of cuts,” said head coach Joe Sacco after Wednesday’s practice. “There’s still two games left. We’re going to play those guys so we can get a good look at them right up until the end and then make our decision.”
In talking to some of the players fighting for one of the final roster spots, the recurring theme was all about taking it one day at a time.
“Have a good practice, have a good game. When you get the opportunity to play, play,” said defenseman Colby Cohen. “I kind of came in with the mindset of not worrying about other guys and it’s worked for me. I’m hoping to put a couple of good games together and make the team.”
Even so, with the number of players in the locker room shrinking every few days, it can be tough not to take notice.
“Sometimes it’s kind of hard because you try to count bodies and figure out who’s going to be in and who’s not, so it’s hard sometimes to stay focused,” said Philippe Dupuis. “But if you take it day-by-day, you’re going to perform on the ice.”
Just like in 29 other NHL locker rooms across North America, the competition for the few available spots has been fierce. At the same time, even though the players are fighting tooth-and-nail for jobs, they seem to acknowledge that it’s about something bigger than themselves.
“It’s a whole team thing. It’s not even about who gets cut or not. It’s about how the Avalanche does throughout the whole season. If I can just be a little piece of that and help the team win a little bit, then all the better,” said center Mark Olver
. “I came in and I’ve done everything I could. I’ve worked as hard as I can and at the end of the day, it’s about the organization as a whole.”
Still, everyone seems to know that there are no guarantees. It might come down to who performs in the very last preseason game, because things in the NHL can change in a heartbeat.
“That’s how it is in the NHL. Within a minute anything can change,” said Dupuis.” The main thing is to try not to think about it too much and be focused every day.” Wednesday’s Practice Briefs
The Avalanche heads out onto the road for the remainder of the preseason, facing off against Dallas tomorrow at American Airlines Center before taking on the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in Las Vegas.
After taking a maintenance day on Monday and not being in the lineup last night against the Stars, Avalanche forward Chris Stewart was back at practice today.