Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar was busy with the media today, issuing multiple updates on the team’s swath of injured players.
Most notably, Bednar still has no timeline for a return on captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s missed the entire season with a knee injury. Bednar called Landeskog’s recovery a “slow-moving process,” There remains no guarantee he will play at all this season.
There’s also the matter of veteran defenseman Erik Johnson, who’s been out for almost a month since sustaining a broken ankle in a game on February 11. His initial timeline for recovery was eight to 10 weeks, and although he remains on that timeline, Bednar said he was “startled” by Johnson’s quick recovery progress. Johnson skated today for the second time since sustaining the injury, and Bednar is hopeful his return will come closer to the eight-week mark, right at the end of the regular season.
Another tenured skater has missed most of the season for Colorado – two-time Stanley Cup champion Darren Helm has played just five games all year. Although he’s returned to skating at practice, Bednar’s only update was that he’s “cautiously optimistic” Helm will play again this season. Helm was an important fourth-line piece for Colorado last year, recording five points in 20 games en route to the Cup.
Defenseman Josh Manson is still dealing with a reaggravated lower-body injury that kept him out for 31 games earlier in the year, but Bednar sees his return is on the horizon. He remains hopeful Manson will return by the end of the month, giving him a chance to get his feet back under him before the playoffs start. An important defensive presence for Colorado, Manson has played just 27 games during the first season of a four-year, $4.5MM average annual value contract.
On a less positive note, backup goalie Pavel Francouz is recovering slower than expected from a lower-body injury that’s kept him out since mid-February. Francouz has now passed the expected recovery timeline of three weeks, but Bednar is hopeful he will return before the end of the season. Colorado has rotated backups in his place, recalling Keith Kinkaid, Jonas Johansson, and Justus Annunen at times.