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Avalanche Waive Depth Center; What Could It Mean?




On Saturday afternoon, the Colorado Avalanche put forward Fredrik Olofsson on waivers.

A surprise move? I’d say so, although the Avalanche haven’t exactly gotten a lot out of their bottom six lately, so it’s not a huge surprise. Maybe the biggest surprise is that it’s Olofsson on waivers and not Joel Kiviranta, who hasn’t scored a goal in nearly three months, but the difference in usage between the two of late has been noticeable.

Olofsson made the team out of camp after being acquired from the Dallas Stars over the summer, but after a hot start, has slowed down significantly. He has just one goal since Nov. 15, and hasn’t regularly played on the penalty kill in quite a while. On Thursday night, he was a healthy scratch against the Detroit Red Wings, so maybe the writing was on the wall, but he’s still dressed in 55 of the 58 games the team has played.

Perhaps we over analyze every move at this time of year, but that’s what we’re here to do – over analyze. What could this move potentially mean for the Avalanche?


Colorado loves this term – flexibility. If Olofsson passes through waivers, they could still choose to keep him on the roster, but they’ll have 30 days to make a decision on what to do next. If they want to send him to the Colorado Eagles, they could, but the point is, they would have options.

What is likely to happen in the next 30 days? The arrival of Nikolai Kovalenko, whose Torpedo squad has plummeted to 7th in their conference over in the KHL. They’ll be underdogs against whoever they play, so a first round exit is very possible, and he didn’t sign a deal to come over and play in the AHL. The KHL playoffs start on 2/29, so a mid-March arrival could very well happen.

And then you have the eventual return of Valeri Nichushkin. I anticipate he’ll be back before the season ends, but when exactly is an unknown. Waiving a guy like Olofsson allows you to freely move him to the AHL if/when these two arrive, it just doesn’t have to happen right now.

Wagner Wins the 4C Job…

When your fourth line center can’t even win 40% of their face-offs, it’s a bit of an issue. Since Chris Wagner got to Denver last week, they’ve moved him to center, and put Olofsson on the wing. Now, Wagner hasn’t been a full-time NHL player in a few years, but when he was, he was a much better face-off guy than Olofsson.

This move very well could have happened sooner, but Wagner didn’t return to action until January after an injury from off-season training. Wagner is a different type of player than Olofsson, as he brings a bit more sandpaper to the lineup. Maybe that’s the change they were looking for.

…For Now

Maybe Wagner is the 4C for now, but could it be temporary? It would be a relatively big surprise if Colorado made it past the NHL Trade Deadline without acquiring another center. It might not be a second line center, but I’d still expect them to get some help down the middle. A move getting rid of Ryan Johansen seems unlikely given his contract, so a guy like Olofsson is an easy guy to push out of the lineup.

We’re less than two weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline, so we’ll find out soon enough what Colorado is going to do. Stay tuned to CHN for news as it comes in.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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