While the Colorado Avalanche are trying to find the right mix for their fourth line, the top unit will also be in flux for a while. Gabriel Landeskog underwent knee surgery yesterday and will be out for “12 weeks give or take.” The team will also recall Jayson Megna from the AHL to give them another center.
Landeskog, 29, hasn’t played this season and will now miss at least three months following this new surgery. The Colorado captain is coming off another outstanding year with 30 goals and 59 points in 51 games, and a playoff performance that could have easily earned him the Conn Smythe. In 20 games en route to his first Stanley Cup championship, Landeskog scored 11 goals, and 22 points, and was the league leader in goal differential with a +15 rating.
Not only does it hurt the Avalanche to lose his offensive performance, but Landeskog is also one of the most well-rounded players in the league, adding physicality, defense, and faceoff ability to his scoring prowess. That last point is one to note, as Landeskog was often asked to take important draws despite being a winger by trade.
Most of the team’s other centers – Nathan MacKinnon, J.T. Compher, Megna, and Evan Rodrigues – are all right-handed. Landeskog’s absence (and Nazem Kadri’s offseason departure) leaves them without a reliable left-handed faceoff option. Alex Newhook is at 35% through his young career and even Darren Helm, a reliable defensive pivot, struggled in the dot last year.
It’s little things like this where Landeskog’s absence will add up, even if they can find a way to replace his offensive numbers on the top line. The team did retain Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin in the offseason but their forward depth is quickly evaporating, leaving a lot of responsibility for MacKinnon and the defense corps.