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Colorado Avalanche center Alex Newhook (18) passes to a teammate during the first day of training camp on Thursday, Sept. 22, in Centennial, Colo.(Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette)

The Avalanche have started the evaluation process to determine a second-line center.

Three returning players who might fill the role — J.T. Compher, Alex Newhook and Mikko Rantanen — recently discussed the training camp vacancy created by Nazem Kadri's signing with Calgary.

— Compher: “(Coach Jared Bednar) has always been fair. If you’re playing well, you’re going to get more ice time. That’s how he’s been with me throughout my career. I’m just focused on playing my game and getting comfortable again.”

— Newhook: “Over my past two years here, I’ve learned a lot about how to play defensively. I think that’s a big role that needs to be filled as a second line centerman. … Along with my speed and skill, that defensive reliability has become a good part of my game. I think it can complement our team and that line pretty well.”

— Rantanen: “I played (center) the last two years maybe a total of 20 games. … The more you do it, the better you get at it. If we need to play me there as a team, I’m ready to do that.”

Health updates 

The Avalanche were without the same four players for the second day of training camp Friday at the team’s practice facility.

Three due to injury: Darren Helm (lower body), Gabe Landeskog (lower body) and Val Nichushkin (lower body). Josh Manson was absent for a second day, for good reason, with a newborn welcomed into his family. Bednar expects Manson back for Saturday’s training camp finale.

Landeskog is unlikely to be healthy to start the regular season, Bednar said. Nichushkin and Helm appear closer to making a return. Both players got in some skating Friday prior to Group 2 hitting the ice.

“Everything is going pretty good with those two guys," Bednar said. "Again, I don’t have a tight timeline on it, but I want to see how this week goes. Then see when we can get them working a little bit more … and then joining the group.”

Goalie depth 

Justus Annunen is the brightest young goalie prospect in the Avalanche farm system. He’ll begin the year starting in net for the Colorado Eagles (AHL). Annunen, 22, enters the final year of his entry-level contract ready to prove he belongs with the NHL club.

The 2018 third-round NHL draft pick is a daunting presence at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds.

“I think I just need to experience more of the small-rink game, have a good season, and let’s see if I get more assignments this year,” Annunen said. “I just want to show what I’m capable of. Obviously, I want to play here. I’m going to try and make the team.”

Annunen played in two NHL games last season and won his first start with 27 saves and one assist at the Flyers (7-5 on Dec. 6). He dressed in three playoff games to back up Pavel Francouz with the injury absence of starter Darcy Kuemper.

“It was an awesome experience,” Annunen said. “Just to get to see how guys are preparing for the big games and stuff. … It’s great to be back.”

Annunen returned to the AHL for Eagles’ postseason run going 6-3 with a 2.46 GAA and .923 save percentage over nine games. He will likely be called upon this season if Alexandar Georgiev and/or Francouz are injured.

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