After it was revealed that captain Gabriel Landeskog had undergone knee surgery and would be out for the next 12 weeks, the Colorado Avalanche were struck a devastating injury setback. Landeskog was disappointed with the news because he had anticipated missing the beginning of the season as he recovered from the knee injury. However, with the news of the operation, his timetable has been severely delayed.
The Avs must maintain the status quo as Landeskog recovers from his knee injury if they are to win the Stanley Cup again. Making sure the Avs don’t miss a beat during Landeskog’s absence will be essential since having a great regular season and earning a high playoff seed may be important to their prospects of making another deep run through the Western Conference in the playoffs.
There are a few players who will need to step up and bear a little bit more of the load till Landeskog returns in order for them to live up to their preseason expectations and secure the top spot out of the West. Before suffering a knee injury that ended his regular season, Landeskog scored 1.15 points per game in 51 games last season. Landeskog might have reasonably approached or surpassed 40 goals last year if he had played 82 games, or close to it. This would have been just his second 30-goal season in his career. Although Colorado won’t be able to replace his output easily, they have the skill to carry on without him, particularly if these individuals decide to take matters into their own hands. The three Avs players listed below must perform in the wake of Landeskog’s injury.
3 Avalanche players who must step up after Gabriel Landeskog injury
3. Valeri Nichushkin
This offseason, Valeri Nichushkin committed to an enormous eight-year, $49 million agreement with the Avs. While some players would have let up after getting the big one, Nichushkin has not. The left winger for the Avs has had an incredible start to 2022–23, leading the squad with five goals in four games. He has scored in every game so far this season, and with eight points, he is second on the club to Mikko Rantanen, who has nine points overall.
The offence suffered greatly with the loss of Landeskog, but the Avalanche have been able to adjust thanks to Nichushkin’s development from late last season into this year. He has been nothing short of devastating when the Avalance have a man advantage, scoring four of his five goals during that time. The 27-year-old had a career year with 27 goals last season, and he might surpass that total in 2022–2023.
2. Artturi Lehkonen
Due to Landeskog’s injury, Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Lehkonen are now on the first line. Lehkonen’s season stats will undoubtedly improve because he gets to play frequently with those two, but it’s up to him to make sure that having him in that line truly helps MacKinnon and Rantanen. Early indications indicate it has been. Lehkonen, who has two goals and two assists, has four points in as many games. With a combined 17 points so far this season, MacKinnon and Rantanen have not had much trouble finding the scoresheet.
Lehkonen, who had previously spent his whole career with the Canadiens, was traded to the Avalance last year. He’s only played in 20 regular-season games for the Avs, but he’s already been assigned to a line with MacKinnon and Rantanen, and he’ll need to keep performing well to stay there.
1. Evan Rodrigues
Evan Rodrigues, one of the Avs’ major offseason additions, will play a significant part in his first campaign in Colorado. He hasn’t had the ideal start to his early Avalanche career, scoring zero points in his first four games while sporting the worst plus/minus on the team (-3). Rodrigues has not made the early impact fans had hoped for with only eight shots on goal in his first four outings.
However, the 29-year-old still has plenty of time to make things right. Evan Rodrigues only just last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins recorded a career-high 43 points while playing in all 82 games. Rodrigues was expecting to continue his upward production trend as he was just one goal away from a 20-20 season, but after his first four games, he has failed to register a single goal. Nevertheless, Rodrigues excels in the faceoff circle and will keep looking for chances to contribute to the Avalanche’s offence this season.
The first version of this article, titled “3 Avalanche players who must step up following Gabriel Landeskog injury blow,” was published on ClutchPoints.