Colorado Avalanche: 9 Players Who Need to Have a Good Camp to Make the Team

Kevin GoffContributor IAugust 30, 2011

Colorado Avalanche: 9 Players Who Need to Have a Good Camp to Make the Team

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    The Colorado Avalanche finished last season dismally and with a ton of injuries. More than 400 man games lost to injury meant that there were several players on the roster that didn't start the year.

    Everybody wants to be on that roster opening night, and Colorado's last season was one that required several players to look themselves in the mirror and fix their game.

    Other players took the end of the season as a means to show that they deserve to be around the NHL, and have the potential to create some very interesting position battles as we come into training camp.

    Some are veterans, and some are rookies, but here are nine players that need to have a very solid training camp if they hope to make the opening night roster for the Colorado Avalanche.

Mark Olver

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    Mark Olver had a great camp last season and managed to find his way onto the opening night roster for the Colorado Avalanche.

    The stay, however, was short lived even though he did manage to find his way back to the Avalanche roster before the end of the year.

    That was still more due to injury than him winning his way back up.

    Still, while Olver was up on the big squad he managed to find a pretty good amount of chemistry with Matt Duchene.

    Olver has a good amount of skill and speed, but with the return of Peter Mueller and the drafting of Gabriel Landeskog, Olver is going to have to have an amazing camp to make the roster this year.

Kevin Porter

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    Kevin Porter's production last season was very much a microcosm of the Avalanche season as a whole.

    He was up and down, super productive and then completely invisible.

    The former Hobey Baker Award winner has shown some really good offensive abilities, but he has also shown that he is having a really hard time making good passing decisions both in his own zone and in his offensive zone.

    Porter really isn't the first- or second-line player that he was forced to be last season as a result of all of the injuries.

    Porter probably does have a very good chance of making the roster this year, but I highly doubt he'll be on the second line.

    A pretty good camp will most likely assure Porter of a spot on the roster this year.

Brandon Yip

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    Brandon Yip had a horrible season last year. He managed to save a little bit of face at the end of the season by putting up a few points.

    The problem that Yip had all last season was that the only thing that he really had done consistently was disappear and then reappear in the worst ways you possibly can show up for your team.

    Yip took bad penalty after bad penalty and cost his team a lot of time and kept putting them in situations they couldn't get out of.

    He also was bad defensively and just couldn't get things going.

    If you ask me, the few good games that he did have at the end of the season aren't going to be enough to earn him an automatic spot.

    Yip is going to have to work very hard throughout camp, or else he's going to find himself back down in Lake Erie, which is exactly where I think he belongs.

Stefan Elliott

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    Stefan Elliott looked to be almost a sure thing to make the roster once John-Michael Liles was traded at the draft.

    Then the Avalanche went on a binge of signing defenseman that all have more NHL experience than Elliott and are all bigger than he is.

    Elliott, however, is one of the most prolific offensive defensive prospects that the NHL has going right now.

    Elliott is going to have to play his game very well at camp this season in order to crack the lineup at the start of the season, but the fact is that the Avalanche now don't have anybody that has the offensive prowess from the blue line that he does.

    If Elliott shows the skills that made him the WHL Defenseman of the Year, then he could sneak into the Avalanche opening night lineup.

    I know I would love to see what Stefan Elliott could add to the Avalanche roster.

Tyson Barrie

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    Tyson Barrie has the same great upside to his game that Stefan Elliott has with his fantastic offensive talents.

    The big downside with Barrie, and you'll have to forgive me for wording it that way, is his size.

    The Avalanche front office has decided that it can't afford to be a small team on the blue line anymore, and Barrie lacks size.

    He has fantastic offensive ability and was WHL Defenseman of the Year a year before Elliott was, but may find himself playing in Lake Erie next season.

    In the end, spending time down in the AHL could be the best thing for Tyson Barrie as he adjusts from juniors to the pros.

Matt Hunwick

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    The Avalanche wasted a really good prospect when the traded Colby Cohen to the Bruins for Matt Hunwick.

    Hunwick was easily the worst trade that the Avalanche made in quite a while.

    Plain and simple, Hunwick is pretty much a waste of a roster spot who shies away from any physical contact and panics whenever he is pressured by a forechecker. 

    It was a mystery how Hunwick consistently found himself in the lineup last season and was an even bigger mystery why he was re-signed by the Avalanche when he was such a liability.

    The only thing that Matt Hunwick has going for him is the fact that coach Joe Sacco seems to love Hunwick, despite how often he costs his team.

    If Sacco is smart, he will make Hunwick earn his spot and based off of the players that the Avalanche have brought in from free agency and through their system, it doesn't look like there is a place on this roster for Matt Hunwick.

Joey Hishon

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    Joey Hishon might have been one of the more savvy draft picks out of his year as not too many people were high on Hishon because of an injury that he had.

    Hishon then tore up the OHL this past season, but still has a hill to climb if he wishes to make the Avalanche roster.

    Hishon is a center and the Avalanche have a lot of centers on the roster already with Stastny, Duchene, O'Reilly and McClement.

    Hishon could be moved to the wing, but even at the wing position Hishon will have a lot of work to do to crack the roster.

    I'm going to give Hishon one more year before he manages to make the roster.

Cameron Gaunce

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    Cameron Gaunce was one of the plethora of defenders that suited up for the Colorado Avalanche last season, and he played pretty well.

    Gaunce may be another player that is forced to wait for another year because of the acquisition of Hejda, O'Brien and crew on the blue line.

    Gaunce showed some promise last season, and even some really great character to stand up for teammates against some much bigger opponents.

    That type of character is something that the Avalanche are big fans of on their squad, especially because of the difficult finish to the season the Avalanche had.

    Still, Gaunce is going to have a lot of work to do to win a spot on the team.

Greg Mauldin

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    Greg Mauldin burst onto the scene when he was given his chance on the Colorado Avalanche last season.

    His production fell off after a bit of time, and it was really expected that that would happen as his role is not one of a scorer. He got sent back down to Lake Erie afterwards.

    Hopefully his role will be much clearer this season and he will be able to take the role of the speedy checker that grinds the opponents into submission in the offensive zone.

    Mauldin isn't going to give you a ton of points, but can definitely play a huge role in getting some energy for his team.

    Mauldin does need a good camp to show the jump that he can still provide the team.

    Kevin Goff is an NHL Featured Columnist and a Featured Columnist for the Colorado Avalanche on Bleacher Report.

    You can follow me on Twitter for more hockey discussion here.

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