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Avalanche Notebook: Artturi Lehkonen On First PP-Unit As “Wheel” Guy



Artturi Lehkonen
Phelan Ebenhack/AP

As noted elsewhere on this site today, it appears that Alex Newhook has already won the second-line center job with the Colorado Avalanche – at least for now. That job used to belong to No. 91, but No. 1 in our hearts, Nazem Kadri. Kadri also had the job as the “wheel guy” – the man in the middle of a five-man power-play unit – on the first team. It appears as if that job, at least for now, is being filled by Artturi Lehkonen.

Artturi Lehkonen was in the wheel today – flanked by Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Valeri Nichushkin – and looked great, I thought. He scored a couple of quick rebound goals and was smart and active in setting screens. Keep in mind: Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog remains sidelined with a lower-body injury, and he could easily replace either a Lehkonen or a Nichushkin on the first PP unit.

One thing I’ve learned: today’s set lines are tomorrow’s Bednar Blender. In that sense, the Avalanche line combinations are very Buddhist. So, while that was the lineup for today, things can easily change tomorrow. But I think this is going to work out pretty well. I think Lehkonen is a 30-goal scorer waiting to emerge. He’s a smart player, a skilled player. He likes the action around the net – as we saw in the Cup playoff run.

That said, a dry spell could easily put him on the second PP unit. It’s all about results in this business, in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately way.

Bednar said he has “no timetable” on Landeskog’s return from a lower-body injury. But he said there’s no cause for alarm. I’m personally predicting a mid-November return. That’s just a pure guess, but what seems might be a realistic one.

Look, I’m not sounding any true alarms here. But I saw Alexandar Georgiev get beat more than a couple times to the high glove side today. That’s after his terrible outing in Vegas the other day.

Martin Kaut seemed to have just an average day, but in defense of him: there was not a scrimmage, where true competition can be better assessed. I think a LOT is riding on how he performs in the next preseason game or two, whether he makes the team or not.

Some drills with Newy and ERod after practice:

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