It has been about half a month since the Colorado Avalanche had their season come to an untimely close. There has been time to reflect and time to digest everything that happened this past year. Now it is time to look forward as the team heads into the meat of their offseason in preparation for another great campaign in the 2014-2015 season.
This is the first of what will be a series of analytical assessments of what the future holds for players in the Avalanche organization, both those on the current roster and those in the developmental system. A fitting player to start with is the young man who made his long awaited NHL debut during Colorado's playoff appearance, Joey Hishon.
Hishon, as fans may recall, was Colorado's first round selection in the 2010 NHL Draft when he was taken 17th overall, about a full round higher than he was projected to go. The reason for his NHL debut being almost four years later was because of a major concussion that gave Hishon lingering symptoms and problems for the better part of two years. Usually, a player taken in the first round suits up for his NHL team at some point over the next couple of years, but it took twice as long for Hishon. Those troubles are behind him now, as he returned to the ice this year playing for Colorado's AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, and later donned an Avalanche sweater in the playoffs.
Now the question is where will Hishon fit next season on an Avalanche team loaded with gifted forwards? With everyone healthy, the only logical place for Hishon is on the fourth line. Between Hishon, Marc-Andre Cliche, Patrick Bordeleau, Max Talbot and Cody Mcleod there will only be room for three on the fourth line, while two of those players will not have full time roles, at least not at first. Mcleod is an alternate captain and has a clearly defined enforcer role, so his spot is unquestioned. The team specifically wanted Talbot's penalty killing ability and his playoff experience, so he isn't likely to be going anywhere. The last regular spot would then come down to Hishon, Cliche, or Bordeleau. They would all be on the team, but those three would likely take turns being healthy scratches. There won't be room for them all to be game-in, game-out players until injury to other forwards necessitates it, which at some point will surely happen.
None of this factors in the upcoming NHL Draft, but with so much talent already on the team, it would be nothing short of miraculous for any forwards the Avalanche take in this draft to make the team the same year. The team almost literally has more talent than they know what to do with. That's a good problem to have.
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