The Colorado Avalanche won’t have Devon Toews in the lineup on opening night, as head coach Jared Bednar told reporters including Peter Baugh of The Athletic that the defenseman had shoulder surgery this offseason and has not yet been cleared for contact.
Toews, 27, had a brilliant first season in Colorado after the team acquired him from the New York Islanders last October. The trade, which cost the Avalanche two second-round picks, was followed quickly by a four-year, $16.4MM contract that showed just how much Toews’ new team believed in him. That belief paid off, as Toews became the regular partner of either Cale Makar or Samuel Girard and set new career-highs in goals and points despite playing just 53 games in the shortened season.
Locked in as a top-four option when healthy, Toews’ absence can only mean more minutes for young Bowen Byram and newcomer Ryan Murray as they piece together a group in the early part of the season. Bednar also explained that Kurtis MacDermid, acquired from the Seattle Kraken for a fourth-round pick, will start at defense but could end up playing some wing later on in the year.
The Avalanche still have a deep group on the back end, especially if Erik Johnson proves healthy again after playing in just four games during the 2020-21 campaign. The veteran is expected to be back, though it’s unclear what kind of role he’ll have now at age-33. The team also has Jack Johnson in training camp on a professional tryout, who could perhaps earn a spot if Colorado suffers any further injuries.