In the deal that saw Ryan Smyth leave to LA, the Avs took back two NHL defensemen in Quincey and Preissing. That brings the total number of NHL defensemen on the Avs roster to 7. The others would be Liles, Hannan, Foote, Clark, and Salei. Also waiting for regular NHL ice time is prospect Kyle Cumiskey.
It has been pretty well known that Avs owner Stan Kroenke is in full cost cutting mode. There is no way that he would want to pay someone like a Brett Clark, Ruslan Salei, or Tom Preissing the money they are making to sit out everynight as the team's 7th defenseman or rot away in the AHL. I believe one of these guys will be dealt before the start of the season. Only question is which one will it be?
-Tom Preissing was brought in mainly as a salary dump for the Kings as we dumped Smyth's loaded contract on them. He is capable of being a pretty solid bottom pairing defenseman and add a little scoring depth to our blue line. The main concern here is his health. He's only played 99 games over the last 2 seasons which could make trading him a little tough.
-Ruslan Salei, when he was acquired from Florida, brought that physical element that the Avs lacked. He also was not afraid to shoot the puck while the rest of our D seemed scared to shoot. It seemed like a full season under Jacques Cloutier's coaching turned him away from his style. With Cloutier out of the picture now, Salei should turn back into what he used to be and play a more physical style. One knock on Salei is that he takes a lot of stupid and lazy penalties. Other teams could see that as a problem but his physical play could prove valuable to a contending team as a nice bottom pairing defenseman.
-Brett Clark was a journeyman between the NHL and AHL until securing a full time spot with the Avs after the lockout. Clark regularly ranks among the top of the league in shot blocking. He is not afraid of sacrificing his body to block a shot. Because of this, though, he often puts himself out of position and gives up a scoring opportunity. He should use his shot blocking skills more in a way to break up a play rather than to just go down so easy to block the shot. If he could work more on staying in defensive position rather than flailing on the ice, he could be used as a good middle pairing defenseman for the Avs or a bottom pairing guy for a contending team.
Out of these three, I would love to keep Preising and Salei around and try to move Clark out. Shot blocking is great to have but not when one guy is attempting it the whole game and giving up valuable scoring opportunities for the opposition.