When assessing the Avalanche’s situation up the middle going into the offseason, there are a lot of factors to consider.

The first of which is Matt Duchene, and his future with the team.  There has been some speculation that he may be traded.  Even if he sticks with the Avalanche, do they plan to play him at center or right wing next season? If Duchene is moved, or moved from the middle, then the team may have a need at center.

There is a chance both Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher could make the team next season. While both have the versatility to play either center or wing, they will likely at least begin at the latter position. As such, even if they both indeed make the team, it likely will not impact the Avalanche up the middle.

The same can be said for unrestricted free agent Shawn MatthiasAcquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, he is listed as a center on the Avalanche roster.  That being said, he played almost exclusively on the wing for the burgundy and blue; and thus will be considered a winger for the purposes of this article.

The inverse is true of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikhail Grigorenko, two of the Avalanche’s restricted free agents.  While they both can play wing also, they spent the majority of their time last season at center. As such, they will indeed be considered centers in this article.

The center market this offseason is actually pretty darn strong.  It remains to be seen how much of players the Avalanche will be in that market.  Either way, here’s a preview of five names to watch for:

5. Mikhail Grigorenko

GrigorenkoTeam: Colorado Avalanche Age: 22 Status: RFA

2015-2016 stats: GP: 74 G: 6 A: 21 P: 27 +/-: 2 PIM: 8

It was an interesting season for Grigorenko.  At the beginning of the campaign, he was seemingly always either in Patrick Roy’s doghouse or in the press box as a healthy scratch (sometimes both). During the second half, he was one of the Avs’ most versatile and surprisingly responsible forwards.

Considering that Grigorenko is only 22, his inconsistency isn’t all that surprising.  As is all too often the case with Russian forwards, when he struggled, it was usually due to a low compete level.  When he is on his game, he can play in all situations.  With the Avalanche, he saw time on every line, at center and wing, on the point on the powerplay and even on the penalty kill.

Grigorenko is a very smart player.  It is also reasonable to assume that Avalanche coach Patrick Roy has a bit of a soft spot for the forward considering their history together, which dates back to the QMJHL.  His versatility makes him a solid depth forward, with the potential to develop into something more. The Avalanche should absolutely bring him back, if the price is right.

Estimated cost: $1-2 million per season.