The Colorado Avalanche are getting older — and bigger — on defense.
Having already dropped blueline prospects Chris Bigras (18 years old) and Duncan Siemens (20) from training camp, the Avs dispatched 22-year-old Stefan Elliott to AHL Lake Erie on Wednesday.
Elliott, the 49th overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has appeared in 57 games with Colorado over the last two seasons, scoring 13 points in 39 games in 2011-12, and four in 18 games in 2013. Along with Bigras (the 32nd overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft) and Siemens (11th overall, 2011), Elliott is part of the Avs’ eventual youth movement on defense.
His reassignment leaves Colorado with nine defensemen in camp and, judging by those still in attendance, it’s clear new head coach Patrick Roy is looking for players with more seasoning and experience to play right now.
Nate Guenin, a 30-year-old journeyman, is still in the mix after spending all last year with AHL Norfolk, as is 26-year-old Nick Holden, a longtime Columbus farmhand.
It’s possible Roy is looking for bigger, more physical defensemen after stressing the need to clear the front of the net during training camp. Guenin is 6-foot-3, 207 pounds while Holden is 6-foot-4, 207.
The club also acquired 6-foot-4, 207-pound veteran Cory Sarich in a trade with Calgary this past summer.
Roy has revealed his top-six defense for this season to the Denver Post, adding that he’ll carry eight blueliners to start the season. The top six are Erik Johnson, Andre Benoit, Ryan Wilson, Tyson Barrie, Jan Hejda and Cory Sarich, with Matt Hunwick, Guenin and Holden battling for the final two spots.