The Avs are really stocked deep as far as defensemen go. They have a plethora of options as far as defense goes. In fact, it is not outrageous to suggest that in five years, not a single defenseman from the 2008-09 team will remain. Here is the list of defensemen currently in the Avs’ pipeline, listed alphabetically:
Colby Cohen- 6’2” 200lbs. Boston University. (NCAA) Cohen plays with Shattenkirk at Boston University. He has good offensive skills, including a powerful shot. However, he is a little lazy and undisciplined in the Defensive zone at times. It could take Cohen a few years to reach the NHL level but once he does, he should make an impact especially on the power play.
Kyle Cumiskey- 5’11” 164 lbs. Cumiskey is an enigma. Lake Erie Monsters. (AHL) On one hand, he has great speed and good offensive instincts. On the other hand, he has a hard time skating with the puck and hitting the net with his shot. If he can improve on these, look for him to become a good defenseman.
Cameron Gaunce- 6’1” 203lbs. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors. (OHL) Gaunce is the Avs’ second round draft pick in this year’s draft. He has a good frame and good offensive skills that can be used on any team. He possesses an extremely hard shot and good passing skills. His offensive game is very refined, especially for defenseman as young as he is. He is also very gritty and will occasionally drop the gloves. Gaunces is a leader on and off the ice. However, he will need to improve his skating before he can jump to the pros. Don’t be surprised if the Avs try him out at the NHL/AHL level next year, maybe even putting him through the same summer training sessions that helped Chris Stewart.
Jens Helgren- 6’3” 192. Sweden. Helgren is the only true defensive-first defenseman the Avs have. He is a very physical, in-your-face type player who doesn’t shy away from the big hit or the scrum in front of the net. He has some real nastiness and grittiness that you’ll typically find in your defensive defensemen.
Derek Peltier- 5’11” 190. Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) Peltier is a poor-man’s John-Michael Liles. He has a good wrist shot and great speed. He is very much an offense-first guy and gets lost in the defensive zone. However, with time and grooming, he could turn into a good fifth or sixth defenseman.
Kevin Shattenkirk- 5’11” 193 lbs. Boston University. (NCAA) Shattenkirk is unusually smart for a player his age. He understands the game. He has great all around skills and vision. His passes are very accurate and very hard. While his shot isn’t the best in college, he manages to get it through screens and on net. He has also been a leader one every team he’s played with. He plays the same type of game as the Anaheim Ducks’ Scott Niedermayer. Don’t be surprised if the Avs sign him after this year to push toward the future.
Nigel Williams- 6'5" 226 lbs. Lake Erie Monsters. (AHL) Williams appears to be the complete package. He has the size to be a really good NHL defenseman and speed to boot. Williams possesses a great slap shot, speed and vision. Expect him to crack the Avs’ lineup within the next year.
While the Avs have a ton of defensemen in the system that could play for them in foreseeable future, they are all lefties. None of the aforementioned defensemen are right-handed. That could hinder the growth of this franchise.