J.T. Compher and Bo Byram were absent from today’s Avalanche practice at Family Sports Center, and coach Jared Bednar afterwards said Compher would be out of the lineup “approximately a month” with an upper body injury.
He also noted that Byram, who missed Saturday’s win over San Jose after taking an elbow to the head against Vancouver on Thursday, is in “protocol.” Bednar added: “So he’s out until he feels better.”
He said the Avalanche wouldn’t be extra cautious, given Byram’s concussion history.
“To me, it’s the same,” Bednar said. “When he’s feeling good, he hits the ice and starts to get ready to play. He’ll let us know. Ultimately, once you enter that, it’s up to the player to sort of be honest and evaluate how he’s feeling. On his good days, he’ll work out off the ice and he has to follow that regimen.”
With Compher out, Logan O’Connor stepped onto the top line at today’s practice. Mikko Rantanen moved to center, with O’Connor and Gabe Landeskog on the wings. Of course, Compher had replaced the injured Nathan MacKinnon as the top line center before being knocked out of the lineup, too. So that will be the top line, at least at the outset of Wednesday’s game at Vancouver.
Bednar said O’Connor took the top-line spot “just because he’s playing great. He’s all over pucks, making plays. He’s a hard-working guy who’s earned that spot. He’s the guy that I see most likely to be able to move up there and help those guys. It also leaves our second line together, which has been pretty good the last few games.”
Why Rantanen at center?
“He played center when he was young,” Bednar said. “He played center at San Antonio before he came here, he played center for us at different times, not a lot. He’s an intelligent player … He works at the goal lines to help out defensively. If he comes up with pucks, he’s big and strong down there and good defensively. If he comes up with pucks down low he’s going to have it on his stick more. A little bit different workload playing center, going goal line to goal line all night, but if anyone can handle it, Mikko’s a real good option for us.”
Forward Nicolas Aube-Kube, claimed on waivers from Philadelphia, practiced with the Avs today.
“He’s a right shot, hard-working winger that’s sturdy on the puck,” Bednar said. “He’s got good detail to his game. If he brings the work ethic we expect him to, he can help our team and contribute. Not just on the defensive side of it, but also on the offensive side of things. He’s put up big numbers in junior and the American, he’s had a shortened season a couple of years ago where he was helping and contributing offensively, so he’s another guy that just kind of fits in our mix, gives us more depth and we’ll see how he plays.”