Three games were enough for the Colorado Avalanche to shake up its forward depth and consider reshuffling lines.
The Avs placed fourth-line center Lukas Sedlak on waivers and assigned winger Ben Meyers to the AHL affiliate Colorado Eagles on Tuesday. Both have averaged fewer than eight minutes of ice time per game for the Avalanche (2-1-0), which struggled against the Minnesota Wild’s fourth line in a 6-3 win Monday night.
Meyers scored a deflection goal in the win, but according to Natural Stat Trick, Colorado only had two scoring chances while he was on the ice. Minnesota had four. Avs coach Jared Bednar described his forward depth as “up-and-down and inconsistent” through the first week of the season.
“I think both guys need a little time, and maybe get some playing time,” Bednar said. “I liked both of their training camps. … I’m searching for some chemistry to try and build another line. So we want to look at all of them, and then we’ll evaluate these guys vs. the new group that comes up.”
Bednar said Tuesday that he knows who will replace Sedlak and Meyers on the NHL roster, but he chose not to disclose names, only confirming that the roster moves are not to make space for a returning injured player. Captain Gabe Landeskog and back-six forward Darren Helm remain out, although Helm skated individually Tuesday at an optional practice. The Avs host the Winnipeg Jets at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Sedlak will join Meyers in Loveland with the Eagles if he clears waivers.
Potential options to join the team against Winnipeg include Eagles forwards Martin Kaut, Shane Bowers and Charles Hudon. There’s also Anton Blidh, who seemed set to start the season on Colorado’s fourth line before being placed on waivers.
If Bednar experiments with his forwards, the maneuvering could extend up the depth chart. The Avs haven’t gotten much production from their second line, where 21-year-old center Alex Newhook is attempting to fill the skates of Nazem Kadri. Kadri signed with the Calgary Flames after putting together a career year with 87 points on Colorado’s title-winning team.
Newhook and newcomer Evan Rodrigues were on the ice together at the optional skate, getting shots in against backup goalie Pavel Francouz. Rodrigues signed a one-year deal in September after his own career year for the Pittsburgh Penguins (19 goals, 24 assists), but he’s working on his on-ice chemistry with new linemates Newhook and Valeri Nichushkin.
“I think when you’re not getting the chances, that’s when you’re starting to overthink things,” Rodrigues said. “But I think they’re coming, and I think a big thing for our line is our speed, so if we just focus on the D-zone, keep it simple, get pucks out, we can kind of let our skill and speed take over from there. … Sometimes when you don’t have that chemistry you have to take an extra second to look up and find a guy, and that’s sometimes all a defense needs.”
If Landeskog is able to return early in the season, the domino effect on depth would be substantial. Artturi Lehkonen is playing up with the top line right now, but he could move down to the second line. Rodrigues has been playing wing, but he has experience at center and is versatile enough for Bednar to try different arrangements with him.
But Bednar didn’t have any updates last Saturday regarding Landeskog’s progress returning from a lower body injury. The captain has not been on the ice.