Colorado Avalanche Set Final Roster, Make Decision on Captain

Kevin GoffContributor IOctober 5, 2011

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 22:  Stefan Elliott #50 of the Colorado Avalanche controls the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during preseason NHL action at the Pepsi Center on September 22, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Kings defeated the Avalanche 4-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Wednesday, October 5 is the deadline for each of the NHL teams to set their 23-man roster for opening night of the NHL season.

For the Colorado Avalanche, this final decision ended up being a bit more difficult of a decision than many people previously thought.

Stefan Elliott had a magnificent training camp and played very well in the preseason in order to make a case to have him in the opening lineup.

Today, the Colorado Avalanche reassigned Stefan Elliott to the Lake Erie Monsters where he will join fellow prospect defender Tyson Barrie as they make their AHL premiers.

So how on Earth could Sacco and crew decide on players like Matt Hunwick over Stefan Elliott? Well, in the end, I can actually understand why sending Elliott to the Monsters would make sense.

While Elliott did demonstrate the ability to play at the NHL level, this move is probably a better one for him as well because he will get far more ice time down in Lake Erie than he would behind several other defenders on the Avalanche roster.

If Elliott continues to play as well as he did throughout training camp, then he will be making a huge impact for the Monsters and might crack the Avalanche roster before the end of the regular season.

If Elliot isn't able to be a part of the Avalanche roster during this season, I would be stunned if he didn't make it up to the team next season.

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01:  Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on April 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in an overtime shoot out.  (Photo by Chr
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One other decision that was made today was regarding the captaincy of the Colorado Avalanche, who have been without a captain since Adam Foote retired at the end of last season.

In an interview posted on the Avalanche website, Avalanche coach Joe Sacco revealed the answer to the question that has been on the minds of Avalanche fans ever since Adam Foote announced his retirement.

That answer is...nobody. Joe Sacco, who is the person in charge of naming the captain for the team, plans to keep Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny as alternate captains and rotate a third alternate captain throughout the team.

I understand the reasoning behind this. You don't want to just toss the captaincy to somebody that isn't going to be the best possible leader for the team.

Let the players play and allow your captain to emerge.

The only thing about this one is that I really feel like the captain for the Colorado Avalanche has emerged in Erik Johnson.

E.J. led all warmups and drills for his teams throughout training camp and the preseason. For those of you who weren't able to attend camp, EJ played on the same team as Paul Stastny during scrimmages.

E.J. played like he was another coach on the ice. He directed traffic for his players, and when somebody was out of position or made a bad pass (cough...Matt Hunwick...cough), he was on them right away, telling them what they should have done.

E.J. has shown that he is a leader for this team. Even though he has only been in Colorado for a short time, he has earned the captaincy.

The preseason has come and gone and now the only thing left to do is wait for opening night. We'll see you Saturday night in the Pepsi Center.