Avalanche Mailbag: Where in lineup will Alex Newhook play this year?
Let’s do an Avalanche Mailbag here.
What’s a reasonable 21-22 projection for Newhook?
— Ben Petroski (@BenPetroski) August 14, 2021
Great first question Ben. It’s all going to depend who he plays with, I think. If he gets a second-line role, and stays there consistently, I think you have to expect 40 points out of him. If he’s bouncing around the third and fourth lines, I think 25-30 points is the hope.
He’ll probably have to play a lot of right wing too, if he is to play on one of the top two lines. I mean, Landeskog and Burakovsky are the top two left wings on the team and should play in the top six. It’s going to be a very, very interesting subplot to the coming season, how Newhook does. He’s still a kid, let’s not forget.
Is your disdain for the Minnesota Wild an act – or is there a story behind it? Did some young filly from MN break your heart in a previous life?
— adam skol (@adscoll78) August 14, 2021
It’s an act Adam. I don’t hate the Wild and never have. I really like the great state of Minnesota and the great hockey heritage there.
The old Red Wings days? Yeah, there was a bit of hate there. I’ve admitted that in my book, “Blood Feud.”
I DO have a talent for getting under opposing fans’ skin, and sometimes I’ve enjoyed doing that. I actually like to have FUN sometimes on Twitter, but in today’s hyper-sensitive social environment, where nobody has a sense of humor anymore and everything gets taken out of context, I mostly have retired my Matthew Tkachuk/Tom Wilson act.
Do you think it’s better to play Newhook or Jost at 3C this year?
— will choi (@kimjongwil) August 14, 2021
Another good question regarding Newhook, Will.
At this point, I’d say Jost. He is definitely the more advanced player right now when it comes to the defensive/checking side of the game, and that’s paramount as a 3C. I think the fervent hope of the Avs is that Newhook will establish himself as a worthy top-six forward. He’ll probably have to play on the wing to do that this year, but no doubt the Avs have hope for him that he can be the replacement at 2C for Nazem Kadri after this season – assuming this might be Kadri’s last year with the club.
Read different takes on this, but what do you think the 2nd, 3rd, at 4th lines will be when the season starts?
— Samuel Patterson (@patttersonsam) August 14, 2021
Samuel, I will go with this for right now:
That fourth line is going to be interesting. I think the Avs might interchange Maltsev and Helm at center occasionally, with the other playing on the wing, likely the left side. But you’ve got guys like Kurtis MacDermid, Kiefer Sherwood and Sampo Ranta who will challenge for a regular roster spot too. It’s going to be a very competitive camp for those depth guys.
How much of the decision on Grubauer is based on Justus Annunen?
— Dwayne Hall (@dhall4013) August 14, 2021
It’s a good question Dwayne, and I think it’s fair to think the Avs didn’t offer as much term to Grubauer as he wanted because they have a prospect such as Annunen in the pipeline. But we all know how long goalies take to develop. I think we’re still looking at a couple years, minimum, before Annunen gets a real shot with the Avs. If he has a huge year with the Eagles and guys such as Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz somehow don’t play beyond this coming season, then Annunen’s track to the NHL could be sped up.
The fact is, nobody has any idea how Annunen will be in the NHL. I don’t think Grubauer’s situation wasn’t influenced by Annunen, but maybe a little.
Obviously the Avs are banking on a kid like Newhook to make up some of the scoring void left by Saad and Donskoi but how long do they give him if it's not clicking early on before they make a move? And what kind of move do you think that would be?
— Nic (@nzamora86) August 14, 2021
Lots of Newhook questions here, so it’s obvious what’s uppermost in the minds of many Avs fans right now.
Tough question, because the Avs have almost no cap room left and a full complement of one-way contracts to the roster. If Newhook is awful and either does more time in the minors or is just an occasional player on one of the bottom two lines, then there is a void in that top six, for sure. But my guess is the Avs would do something of a top-six winger by committee internally, with Nichushkin a likely candidate or Compher. Hey, maybe Sampo Ranta tears it up and becomes a top-six guy? Again, it’s going to be a top subplot to the team, how well Newhook establishes himself.
I love Jared Bednar but do you think that this is the year where the seat starts to sizzle abit? Is the rope getting shorter?
— Avaholik (@avaholik86) August 14, 2021
I mean, yeah, it’s quite likely. There’s no question that there is pressure on Bednar this year. But there’s pressure on every NHL coach. Every NHL coach’s seat is warm. That’s the nature of the business. Well, maybe not Jon Cooper’s seat, but…
Bednar knows this. He’s not naive. Joe Sakic is not a guy who makes rash decisions, though. He’s kept the faith in Bednar through a lot of ups and downs already, and I don’t expect that to change. But, yeah, of course, a bad start or just underperformance in general would likely force Sakic’s hand in wondering if a change would be necessary.
Is there a chance Justin Barron will play this year
— Beast, Cartogenous (@Cartogenous) August 14, 2021
Only in the case of injury to the top six. I think the Avs are expecting him to get a full year under his belt in Loveland, and look more toward next year with regard to making him a full-timer. Of course, injuries could speed up his development track.
Thanks for the questions folks.