Colorado Avalanche Injuries Provide Opportunity for Kyle Cumiskey, Ryan Wilson

James CriderCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2009

MONTREAL- OCTOBER 15:  Kyle Cumiskey #10 of the Colorado Avalanche stick handles the puck while being chased by Kyle Chipchura #28 during the NHL game on October 15, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Avalanche defeated the Canadiens 3-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Heading into the season, Colorado had a complete log jam at the defense position. Sure, it wasn't the best group of defenders in the league, but picking six of Adam Foote, Scott Hannan, Brett Clark, Tom Preissing, Kyle Quincey, Ruslan Salei, and John-Michael Liles isn't exactly an easy decision.

Seven games into the 2009-2010 NHL season, only four of those seven suited up last game versus Montreal.

Not unlike the previous two Avalanche teams, this years version has been hit by the injury bug. Tom Preissing is recovering from knee surgery, Ruslan Salei is day-to-day with back spasms, and John-Michael Liles is sidelined with a bruised shoulder.

Enter Kyle Cumiskey.

The 23-year-old made his NHL debut way back on new years day, 2007. Since then, he's bounced back and forth between the AHL and the NHL, never being able to secure a roster spot with the Avalanche.

Many have said his development has been headed in the wrong direction because often times Cumiskey found himself watching from the press box as the healthy scratch seventh defenseman. Late last season, injuries to Clark, Salei, Nycholat, and Tjarnqvist would have given Cumiskey a chance to prove his value, but he too was sidelined with a shoulder injury.

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Now healthy, the former 222nd overall pick has cemented a roster spot for himself.

Often referred to as a one dimensional defender known for his speed, Cumiskey has proven nay sayers wrong. His three takeaways are second best among all Avalanche defenders, and has contributed offensively with two points through the first seven games. And most importantly, the team is winning with him playing a key role.

Ryan Wilson is another story.

The 22-year-old Windsor Ontario native was never drafted, and found his way to the majors after Calgary signed him to a two-way contract following a string of successful seasons with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL.

Colorado acquired his rights, along with defenseman Lawrence Nycholat and a second round draft pick last March in exchange for Jordan Leopold (a deal I'm sure Calgary regrets making, as Leopold is no longer with the organization).

The chances of Wilson playing a game in the NHL this season appeared to be slim to none, especially when considering that the Avalanche called up defensemen Ray Macias and Derek Peltier over Wilson when defensive injuries struck late last season. Coach Joe Sacco must have seen something he liked and decided to give Wilson the nod.

Wilson made his NHL debut this past week against Montreal, playing over 11 minutes and registering a +1 rating. While it's unlikely he remains with the Avalanche once higher salary defensemen return from injury, the next few games present a chance for him to make a bid at becoming a regular on the blue line for next season, as the Avalanche have three defensemen set to become unrestricted free agents.

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