Gabriel Landeskog has been missed to the fullest extent by the Colorado Avalanche, but his return to the ice may be coming soon.
Landeskog, 20, skated for an unspecified length of time at the team’s practice facility, with Avs medical personnel looking on. Neither Landeskog nor the team commented on where he is in his recovery. A team official described Friday’s skating session as “going through the process” of recovery.
Even though this could be the first step in a long, long process, some progress is better than no progress. And being cleared to skate around, for no matter how long, is good news.
With Landeskog this season, Colorado is 2-2. Since that Saturday afternoon where Landeskog took a nasty hit from Brad Stuart, the Avs have won just three of their last eight games and currently sit in second-to-last place in the Western Conference.
Landeskog gives Colorado a versatile scoring threat when he’s on the ice. Colorado wasn’t a leading scoring team last season, averaging 2.43 goals per game, but that statistic has dropped to 2.17 goals per game this season. Although it isn’t a big difference, Landeskog being able to play again could mean that number increasing drastically.
Dater also reports that it’s unclear as to when Landeskog will skate again, but Colorado hopes that it’ll be soon.
Where is Ryan O’Reilly Going?
If there’s one thing we know about Ryan O’Reilly it’s that there’s a very slim chance he takes the ice for Colorado this season. Last year’s leading scorer for the Avs has yet to agree to a contract for the 2013 season and it’s likely that he will be traded before the upcoming deadline.
Colorado and O’Reilly—and his possie—have been trying to negotiate a deal for the restricted free agent, but as the clock continues to tick, the chances of him returning decrease dramatically. With Landeskog out with the head injury, Colorado really could’ve used another scorer to play alongside of Matt Duchene and P.A. Parenteau.
But Colorado doesn’t want to overpay for the rising star and O’Reilly isn’t ready to agree to a deal that he doesn’t think is fair. The standoff has gone on for much too long and now the Avs are basically forced to get rid of him.
There are several teams that are interested in O’Reilly, and Craig Custance of ESPN recently wrote about the clubs that would love to get their hands on him. Custance listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes as the likeliest destinations for the young forward.
Of that trio of teams, I think the likelihood O’Reilly gets traded to the Flames is lowest. It would be strange for Colorado to trade arguably their best player to another team in the Northwest Division. The Avs still play Calgary three more times this season, with Colorado having taken the first of four matchups 6-3 on January 31.
No Offense from the Defense
Colorado is clearly having a tough time scoring this season, as I’ve mentioned, but that’s really because of one reason: the defense.
The Avs defensemen have played horribly this season when it comes to putting the puck in the net. On February 8, Dater wrote about how Colorado was the only team in the NHL without a goal from a defenseman. It’s been more than a week and that statement still stands true.
Not one defenseman to take the ice for Colorado this season has been able to find the back of the net. Ryan Wilson, Jan Hejda, Greg Zanon, Ryan O’Byrne, Shane O’Brien, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Matt Hunwick all are goalless. That’s embarrassing.
“There’s no question, we need some offense from the back end,” head coach Joe Sacco told Dater around a week ago. “We have a couple of guys we think are capable of contributing offensively for us. Some of them, we don’t expect much offensively, but certainly a few guys we do.”
Several players have suffered from various injuries this season, but eventually, someone on defense is going to have to step up. But Colorado has lacked a goal-scoring defenseman before this shortened season.
Last season, Kyle Quincy led all Avs defensemen in goals and he only scored five times. Johnson is the best two-way defenseman Colorado has and the Avs desperately need him to get going—although an injury kept him out against the Wild.