Despite the team feeling reenergized after a longer summer, the Colorado Avalanche are still dealing with some injuries.
So many injuries that Head Coach Jared Bednar had to read them all off a long sheet of paper, which took several minutes. From the sounds of it, there is nothing major that they’re dealing with when it comes to key players on the team, but it’s still noteworthy, including their top defenseman missing the start of camp.
Bednar, Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog met with the media for about 40 minutes in total, going over various topics. No reason to waste any time, so let’s get into it.
- I asked Avalanche coach Jared Bednar about the longer summer, and if he senses the team feels reenergized. “I think it can help with the hunger,” Bednar said about going out in the first round. “But a longer summer to allow our guys to heal, and get some rest, after having a short summer the one before, looking at the big picture and what can help set us up for success this year, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing.” Yeah, about those injuries…
- There are A LOT. So many that Jared had to lean over and read them directly off a sheet of paper. So, here we go…
- Andrew Cogliano – He’ll participate in camp, but likely won’t play in preseason. Hopefully ready for regular season.
- Josh Manson – Still dealing with a lower body issue. “It’s taken a little bit slower than what we would have liked, and what he would have liked,” Bednar said. He’ll skate tomorrow, but is not fully 100%.
- Pavel Francouz – Out, lower-body, won’t skate.
- Cale Makar – won’t skate at start of camp, considered day-to-day, likely will skate this weekend. More on this below.
- Jean-Luc Foudy – not cleared, dealing with a lower-body injury
- Chris Wagner – Ruptured achilles, out until 2024
- Ondrej Pavel, Jason Polin, Wyatt Aamodt – day-to-day, they’re hoping to get them back quickly and get them in preseason games.
- Cal Ritchie – He will miss start of season, won’t participate in camp.
- Makar spoke about his injury, and it sounds like it’s still the same issue he was dealing with at the end of last season. “Things have lingered quite a bit longer than I’d liked them to have,” Makar said. He said he’ll probably miss the first few days of camp, and should be ready to start skating by the weekend. He’s been full tilt on the ice in the summer, but wants to make sure it’s 100% when the season starts.
- Speaking of injuries, Gabriel Landeskog spoke about his rehab, and you can tell he’s encouraged by everything right now. “I feel really good,” Landeskog said. “I definitely see the path (to a return). No doubt. I feel really good about where I’m at, and I’m excited for what’s next. Not skating yet, but I think it’s in the somewhat near future.” No real “ahead of schedule” talk from the Captain, but it sounds like he’s really happy with where things are at with his rehab. Considering how many questions there were around his surgery, that’s great news.
- Devon Toews made it very clear – he wants to stay with the Avalanche. “We’ve talked,” Toews said, when asked about an extension. “It’s a business, right? We’ll hopefully find some common ground here. I’d rather not drag on into the season, but my intent is to stay here the rest of my career.”
- Both Landeskog and MacKinnon were big fans of the moves the Avalanche made this summer. “I loved it,” MacKinnon said. “I think it addressed a lot of needs. All the guys that have been brought in are very chatty, and very personable guys, which is fun to have around on a daily basis, as well as great players.”
- Bednar is happy with the depth the Avalanche brought in at forward this summer. “Kind of reminds me of the year when we brought in Burakovsky and Donskoi and those guys to help push us over the top,” he said.
- I asked MacKinnon specifically about Jonathan Drouin, his former Halifax teammate. “Obviously, I knew him as a teammate in Junior, and I knew him the last 10 years as a person,” Nate said. “I think he’s a great guy, and another guy that’s fitting in really well with this group. I don’t know what the lines will be. You know, I wasn’t telling him to come here to play with me or anything, just that it’s a great group. Obviously, Montreal is a heavy, heavy place for a French Canadien, and I think he loved it there, but time for a change. I think it’s a great spot here. I think he’ll be very versatile. Such a talented player, works really hard, and it’s been fun being back on the ice together.
- Bednar briefly coached Ryan Johansen in the AHL, and thinks he can slot in as the 2C nicely. “We’ve studied his game closely. We’ve looked at a lot of things. I expect him to be able to slot into that 2 hole for us. He’ll be able to play with some of our top players and help them create offense. He’s a real good face-off guy.”
- One thing you can always count on with MacKinnon is honesty, and he kept it real when talking about last year’s Avalanche squad. “I just don’t think we had the team to win last year,” he said. “When you’re in it, you always believe. We’re very motivated. It just felt like we never really had ‘it’ last year.”
- Valeri Nichushkin will meet with the media tomorrow after skate, but each person was asked about him and gave a little different response. No one went into details, as you would expect, but Makar did give an interesting response.
- “I’ve talked to him multiple times,” Bednar said. “I saw him early in the offseason. We’ve talked a little bit more here recently. I have a lot of faith in Val and who he is as a player and as a person. He’s a hungry player, he wants to come back in and make a huge impact like we know he can.”
- “Obviously, what happened, happened,” Makar said. “It’s a tough circumstance. You have a super tight knit group going into the playoffs, and then something like that happens and everybody just kind of, all their minds go astray. You don’t really feel like you’re all together at that point again, so to have him back and to have him being here and seeing how committed he’s been since being back for a week, it’s been awesome. I think we’ve all turned the page on that, and we’re excited to see him back out there in full force. Obviously, with everything personal that went on, it’s his stuff and we support him with whatever he’s got to do.”
- “With open arms,” MacKinnon said, when asked how the team has welcome Nichushkin back. “We love Val, and I think it’s more than faith, we just know he’s going to be here for us. He’s such an amazing player. Val’s a good person. At the end of the day, he’s a great guy, we all love him, and yeah, everything’s good.”
I think those are the big parts. The Avalanche will hit the ice Thursday morning for training camp, and preseason starts on Sunday. Hopefully, some of these guys get back healthy before the season starts, but everyone is excited for a new year.