It must be mailbag day on the NHL beat. Earlier we linked to Joe Haggerty’s piece on the Bruins and now Mike Chambers of The Denver Post chimes in answering some tough questions regarding the Avalanche. First and foremost, Chambers discusses Gabriel Landeskog and what his expectations are for the gifted power forward. In the opinion of the scribe, based on his talent and the fact he was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, Landeskog has to start producing 30-goal seasons in order to live up to his billing.
Landeskog posted a career-high 26 goals in 2013-14 and since has recorded seasons of 23 and 20 markers. He has netted four goals in 15 games this season which would put him on a full-season pace of 20 – 21.
As Chambers notes, Landeskog is a good NHL player and is the Avalanche captain, but with Colorado once again off to a slow start, Colorado needs him to start being great if they want to sneak back into the playoff race. Currently, the five-year veteran left wing is out of action due to a lower-body-injury.
There were rumblings that Colorado could shake up its core this past summer and one player rumored to perhaps be moved in such a scenario was Landeskog. GM Joe Sakic instead kept the core intact and simply made a couple of changes around the edges. However, if Colorado doesn’t start playing better soon, they may revisit that choice and Landeskog could be made available later this season.
Elsewhere around the Central Division:
- In the same mailbag, Chambers took a question on Tyson Barrie. Barrie, prior to inking a four-year, $22MM extension this summer, was also thought to possibly be available via trade. As a right-handed blue liner with plenty of offensive ability, many teams would have been interested in Barrie’s services. Clearly he is viewed as a top-end puck moving defender, which as Chambers notes, often comes with high-risk, high-reward tendencies. Chambers argues that when the team is going well, the mistakes are easily overlooked. On the flip side, when things are not going so well, each mistake is magnified.
- St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh completed a minor deal today, with minor league forward Danny Kristo headed to the Penguins and defenseman Reid McNeill headed the other way. The news was first reported via the Blues official Twitter account. Kristo was Montreal’s second-round pick in 2008 and has also played in the New York Rangers organization. He appeared in 71 games for the Chicago Wolves, tallying 25 goals and 48 points. McNeill, two years Kristo’s junior, was selected in the sixth-round of the 2010 draft by St. Louis. With 409 penalty minutes in 234 career minor league games, the 6-foot-4, 216-pound blue liner appears to be more of a physical force than an offensive threat. The trade likely serves as little more than two clubs searching for minor league depth with the Blues moving a forward while acquiring some blue line help.
- Nashville Predators defenseman Anthony Bitetto has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate on a conditioning assignment, tweets Adam Vingan of The Tennessean. Bitetto has been out since opening night with an upper-body-injury. It will be interesting to see what the Predators do once the 26-year-old blue liner completes his conditioning assignment. In his absence, Yannick Weber has stepped into the top-six and has three assists in 15 appearances. Former Shark Matt Irwin has replaced veteran Matt Carle in the lineup and has responded with three goals and five points in 10 games. It seems likely that Weber would be the odd man out though there is no indication from Nashville or Vingan that this is the case.