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‘He’s So Valuable For Us’: Avalanche Eager To Get Lehkonen Back



avalanche lehkonen

After their 7-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, the Colorado Avalanche quickly sent Jason Polin back to the Eagles. Polin showed well, and actually went back to the AHL and immediately scored a goal, but there isn’t room for him on the roster anymore.

That’s because Artturi Lehkonen is back, or at least it appears he is.

After practice on Monday, we were told Lehkonen would be available to speak on Wednesday. That just so happens to be the day the Avalanche host the Washington Capitals.  Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt spoke to the media after practice in place of Jared Bednar, who was absent due to personal reasons according to the team. While Pratt didn’t confirm Lehkonen will play on Wednesday, it sure seems like it.

And they can’t wait.

“He’s so valuable for us in all situations,” Pratt said. “Five-on-five, powerplay, penalty kill, so we’re hopeful. He’s taking strides every day, so hopefully he’s back.”

Lehkonen spent practice on a line with Ryan Johansen and Andrew Cogliano, and you can expect to see that on Wednesday. If Valeri Nichushkin was with the team, he would likely be the third member of the line, but that’s obviously not the case. There’s also no way the team is going to break up a line like Miles Wood, Ross Colton, and Logan O’Connor with the way they’ve been playing.

When Lehkonen does come back, they’ll ease him back in with lighter minutes to start, but Pratt is certainly excited to get him back on the penalty kill.

“He’s just so good at everything he does out there. He’s got such a good stick defensively, so we’d be welcoming him back for sure, in that respect,” Pratt said.

Mikko Rantanen can’t wait to get his fellow countryman to return.

“He looks good out there,” Rantanen said on Monday. “Looks like himself, and that’s good to see, because we’ve been missing him a lot. Obviously, he’s a really good player, and all around player. He helps us on the defensive side of it and penalty kill as well, so good to see him back in the lineup.”

Other News And Notes

  • I asked Rantanen about Patrick Roy‘s return to the NHL, as he and MacKinnon are the only two players to have played for him previously. Rantanen’s stint was short, as it was just in training camp and then a quick nine-game trial.
    • “Happy for him. He probably deserves another chance in the NHL. He did a pretty good job here, with looking at his record. Good for the league to have a legend like him back coaching (a) team.”
  • Bowen Byram was also a full participant at practice, but his availability seems a little more up in the air for Wednesday. He took the majority of his line rushes with Caleb Jones, while Sam Malinski was with Jack Johnson.
  • The Avalanche will take Tuesday off, and then return to the ice on Wednesday for morning skate.

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