Erik Johnson out - forcing an O'Reilly deal?
If the season was starting to slowly get better for the Colorado Avalanche, it just took another blow. The Colorado Avalanche will be without their number one defensemen, Erik Johnson, for the next 3-8 weeks. Missing vital games that could make or break Colorado’s playoff hopes and season.
Johnson is tied for first in the NHL among defensemen with his career high 12-goals. Johnson cannot talk to the media due to the injury and Colorado’s organizational rules, but Coach Patrick Roy stated, “Johnson is very disappointed in the situation, but it is out of their control.”
On that note, does this push the Ryan O’Reilly trade into effect for Colorado? Much speculation has been made that O’Reilly is on the market and rumors have been flying. With the departure of Paul Stastny, O’Reilly and his contract issues with Colorado have become the new target.
Ryan O’Reilly, though, is heating up for Colorado and moving him could end up hurting the team in the long run. The connection he has made with Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla have the three producing points at a steady pace.
With Johnson expected to miss the next 1-2 months and Colorado already looking for a defensemen could force Sakic and GM Sherman to move Ryan for less than what they are looking for. Which seems mainly to be Morgan Reilly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, although Toronto does not want to move the young defensemen.
The only downfall to this situation for Colorado could be who ever they trade for, may not fit into the Avalanche system or worse, not fit will with the players on the team. It would almost seem better for the Avalanche to wait until the off-season before they move the almost 24-year-old Center/Left Wing.
Ryan is in the first of a two-year deal with the Avalanche. After Colorado lost Paul Stastny for no return, if Joe cannot sign O’Reilly for his price, he will want to move him no later than the off-season. We have seem huge trades for far more in the off-season that at trade deadline, where more often than not, one team gets bogus. The off-season trade would also allow a new player to form a relationship with their new club and have training camp under their belt. Making a trade more worthwhile.
These are two huge keys that are in the process of breaking the Avalanche into the playoffs or out. Erik Johnson’s knee injury will not have Patrick Roy forcing him into the lineup quickly. Like Semyon Varlamov’s injury, the player will need to be 100% ready to go, especially if the Avalanche sneak into a playoff spot.
On another note Calvin Pickard was reassigned to Lake Erie and Reto Berra was recalled after going 3-1-1 during his conditioning assignment. Dennis Everberg was also sent down for the All-star break, but has been recalled. There was no defensemen recalled to replace Johnson. Zach Redmond and Nick Holden have been the healthy scratches all season when the lineup has been healthy. They will stick with those two, as well as, Tyson Barrie, Nate Guenin, Jan Hejda, and Brad Stuart.
What’s the key here for Colorado? The Defense needs to prove they are deep enough to lose their top guy. Colorado’s defense has not been their strong point the last, well, since 2001 or so it seems. The defense will need to play, smart, solid and positional to win games, they will also need to help produce.
The Avalanche forwards need to be the forwards they were last season, starting with Nathan MacKinnon. If the 19 year old can find confidence, it can spark the older players on the club like Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog to find their stride.
Older vets like Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla need to continue their strong play all around, while elder defense like Jan Hejda and Brad Stuart need to lead the way in front of Varlamov.
Last but not least, Semyon Varlamov out-lasted Tuukka Rask in their meeting back on the 21st of January, a 3-2 shootout win. Varly has been playing solid, but with the loss of Johnson, may need to be even more solid. Reto Berra built a little bit of confidence in Lake Erie over the past two weeks. Colorado will look to fall on him at least once in the next ten games. That one game may determine what happens to either himself or Calvin Pickard.
The best note of all:
Colorado will host the Detroit Red Wings in one of the 2016 stadium series games. The game will be played at Coors Field in Denver. More information on ticket sales will be released at a later date!
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