Colorado Avalanche Player Grades: Forwards
As the NHL Playoffs get going and the Colorado Avalanche find themselves on the outside, they will begin what all teams do in the offseason, personnel review. The team will hardly be the only ones making their own judgments on the players, and we at The Hockey Writers are no different. Here are the player reviews for the Colorado Avalanche, starting with the forwards.
Matt Duchene: B+
Matt Duchene led the Avalanche in scoring this season with 59 points, and had his first ever 30 goal season in the NHL. Offensively, Duchene carried the team for the majority of the year, despite having a very slow start. He also had an excellent year in the face-off circle, with a 57.9% winning percentage. Duchene was easily the most consistent for the Avalanche in terms of production and effort, but not quite cracking 60 points is a B+ in my mind. Still, he was the team’s best player.
Gabriel Landeskog: C+
Second on the team in scoring, Gabriel Landeskog was the picture of inconsistency on the Avalanche. 53 points is okay, but just 20 goals on the year is not what you need from Landeskog. Landeskog was suspended a couple of times this season for some bad plays that showed some serious lack of discipline. When he plays his game he is a dominant player, but he frequently gets off of his game for some reason. The team needed more from Landeskog this season and didn’t get it, yet somehow all people can talk about is how Matt Duchene celebrated his 30th goal too much.
Nathan MacKinnon: B-
Some ups and downs for MacKinnon as he continues to figure out how it is to be a scorer in the NHL. He started out the year absolutely on fire, but slowed down quite a bit. He picked his game up again later before ending the year with a quirky knee injury. MacKinnon needs to keep shooting the puck but, as a lot of the Avalanche players do, he gets away from his game at times. He had some seriously dominant flashes this season, but is still looking for that consistency. Hopefully he finds it next season.
Carl Soderberg: B
Carl Soderberg had a very difficult start to the year for the Avalanche and struggled to find his rhythm on his new squad early. Many began to question whether or not the Avalanche had made a mistake in signing him. Soderberg did manage to turn things around for the Avalanche and became a big part of the team in all aspects. He played 5 on 5, power play and penalty kill situations and contributed. He posted career highs in points (51) and assists (39). His face-off numbers were not where you would want them, 47 %, but considering how he started the season in the dot, things could have been much worse.
Jarome Iginla: C+
Iginla was another member of the Avalanche that had a hard time with consistency throughout the year. He had a strong start to the season, fell off in the middle, played better towards the end but finished rather cold. He brought an exciting moment by tallying his 600th career goal in a game vs. the Kings, but he struggled to find much productivity 5 on 5. Of his 22 goals on the year, 13 were on the power play. It’s nice to have that kind of production on the power play, but just nine goals in 82 games at even strength is not good. Iginla definitely is in the twilight of his career and probably isn’t much of a part of the plans for the Avalanche going forward.
Blake Comeau: A-
Blake Comeau was brought to the Avalanche to play a very specific role, to make the Avalanche more difficult to play against. He gets an A because he played his role very well, bringing physicality, toughness and some offense. He played in all situations, as well, and also tallied a career high in assists (24). Comeau makes the Avalanche better and I look forward to another year with him on the roster.
Mikhail Grigorenko: Pass
Grigorenko was a very interesting case this season. He started the year seeing time on lower lines or being a healthy scratch, struggling to get too much ice time. Towards the latter part of the season, however, he really began to gain confidence and played very well once he was put on the same line as Matt Duchene. Once Duchene got inured, Grigorenko had a harder time finding his offensive legs, but seeing the chemistry he does have with Duchene is very encouraging. His defensive play also was a pleasant surprise throughout the year. I give him a passing grade simply because we didn’t see him enough in the right type of role most of the season. I expect he will be back, though.
John Mitchell: C
John Mitchell had such a strong start to the season, the type nobody really expected him to keep up as he is a bottom-six forward. His season was pretty average, as a whole, nothing really that stands out either way. He gets the most middle-ground grade there is.
Jack Skille: B
After making the team out of training camp on a tryout, Jack Skille played every game the same way, all out. He missed a few games to injury in the middle of the year, but he was definitely one of the few guys that really put everything into every game he played. No, his numbers weren’t fantastic, but for a guy on the fourth line, he made the most of his ice time.
Cody McLeod: D
I have a lot of love for Cody McLeod and players like him because of the type of game that he plays, but McLeod leaves a lot to be desired now. Yes, he can fight, but he doesn’t do too much else and certainly not enough to make him take up a roster spot. He had a really great November, but was pretty forgettable the rest of the season.
Mikkel Boedker: Incomplete
Acquired at the trade deadling, Mikkel Boedker showed some serious promise with the Avalanche. His speed and hands make him a huge positive to have on the team, but he also can leave something to be desired with 5 on 5 play. It’s hard to completely judge Boedker on the brief time he was in Denver, so he gets an incomplete. We may not get to see too much more of him, however, depending on what his contract demands end up being.
Shawn Matthias: A
Another trade deadline acquisition, I am going to go ahead and give Shawn Matthias an A despite only having seen him for 20 games. He added a lot to the Avalanche during his short time in Denver and provided some much needed depth and energy. He tallied 11 points in 20 games for the Avalanche, nearly equalling his total from the other 51 games he played in Toronto this season. Matthias definitely earned his keep and the Avalanche need to make sure to bring him back.
Andreas Martinsen: C-
Martinsen is transitioning from European leagues to the NHL, so there is definitely going to be a bit of a learning curve for him. He showed some very strong flashes throughout the season, showing the tools that a player his size needs to be successful in the NHL. He also showed some need for growth and maturity in his game, which was to be expected. I think there is a lot to like with Martinsen, but a lot of room to grow. It will be interesting to see what the Avalanche do with him during this offseason.
The Rest: Incompletes
This includes Ben Street, Andrew Agozzino, Dennis Everberg, Borna Rendulic and Mikko Rantanen. About the only of these players that I could really form a meaningful opinion on was Everberg who was a big disappointment this season. Last year, Everberg found a home in the lineup with some tenacious play and a disregard for his body. That didn’t seem to be with him this season and he was sent down to the AHL after 15 games where he had no points and a total of nine shots.
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