Home / World News / Avalanche turning corners along with 30-something Carl Soderberg – The Denver Post

Avalanche turning corners along with 30-something Carl Soderberg – The Denver Post

LOS ANGELES — Avalanche center Carl Soderberg was on the opening-night roster, but he wasn’t really part of the team’s plans. The Avs were rebuilding with youth — particularly down the middle with rookie centers J.T. Compher, Alex Kerfoot, Tyson Jost and Dominic Toninato — and they were willing to put Soderberg’s big contract on the bench.

Soderberg, 32, was a healthy scratch Oct. 5 at the New York Rangers because Colorado wanted youth and speed to replace significantly slower 30-somethings. The Avs used a buyout on 37-year-old defenseman Francois Beauchemin, but they chose to continue with Soderberg and his $4.75 million contract. Multiple buyouts were deemed too costly.

In some ways, the Avs were stuck with the Swede.

Ten weeks later, they’re thrilled to still have him.

“Coming out of training camp, we had all these young centers — Kerfoot, Compher, Jost, obviously (Nathan) MacKinnon and we had (Matt) Duchene at that point — and you want to try to give those guys a look in their natural positions,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “Now, some of those guys are playing wing and (Soderberg) has become the pivot in that checking role, where we can put him out against the top lines from the opposition.”

Soderberg has become one of the Avs’ top forwards. He’s fifth among forwards in average ice time (16:57) — trailing only Compher and the three members of the top line — Gabe Landeskog, MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen — and he’s playing in all situations. He’s killing penalties, serving as the net-front presence on the power play, and he and his wingers — Matt Nieto and Blake Comeau — are Bednar’s first choice in the opponent’s empty-net situation.

“We’re all reliable in the D-zone and we create some offense too. It’s a good line,” Soderberg said. “We’re a checking line, but we’re still skilled players who create offense too.”

The Avs are 15-14-1 with Soderberg in the lineup. In addition to opening night, Soderberg didn’t play in the two games in Sweden against Ottawa because his wife was due to give birth to the couple’s third child that week. Carl-Frederik Soderberg, Carl’s first son, was born a few days after the Avs went 0-1-1 in Sweden.

In general, the softspoken Soderberg has had a wonderful fall and early winter. He doesn’t talk much, and he doesn’t have a nickname, but his play speaks volumes to Colorado’s early-season success after the disaster that was 2016-17.

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