The Colorado Avalanche confused more than a few people when they selected Nathan MacKinnon no. 1 overall in the draft over the summer. It brought about multiple questions. Outside of the obvious passing on Seth Jones, a future star at a position of need, it also overloaded them at center.
Granted, having as many talented centers as the Avalanche have on their roster is a problem that many teams would probably like to have. Nonetheless, having all of MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, and Paul Stastny all in the mix opened up some questions for the Avs.
Which is why moving O’Reilly out on the wing makes some serious sense for this club. The Avalanche have rolled O’Reilly out at left wing throughout training camp and in the preseason. This shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise, as someone was going to make the move to the left wing, it was just a matter of who.
The choice of moving O’Reilly, while it’s not surprising, is intriguing. It would have made a certain degree of sense to have MacKinnon on the wing as he tries to adjust to this level. But with Duchene and Stastny virtual locks, as they represent quality options as two-way centers, Patrick Roy went with O’Reilly over MacKinnon.
As of right now, the plan appears to be to roll with O’Reilly as the first line left wing, next to Duchene and P.A. Parenteau. Given the success that Duchene and Parenteau had together last year, adding an offensive talent like O’Reilly should pay off in a big way for the Avalanche.
There are still some serious concerns with this team, but there’s no doubt that they boast some real offensive talent. Putting the puck in the net won’t be a problem for them this year. Keeping it out of their own net will be the issue.