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yave1964

Avalanche offseason primer

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FINAL RECORD 2017-18 43-30-9 95 points made playoffs lost in first round to Predators.

 

  The year before the "lanche were a bad joke, losing there coach and local icon Patrick Roy right before the season and they stumbled to a 22 win 49 point season, the worst record since the start of the losers point shootout era. Nothing was expected of the team who entered last year with the Duchene thing still hanging over their head and ISO of a defenseman local prospect Butcher spurned Colorado to go to New Jersey. GM Sakic was on the hotseat, the team was a joke and it was a matter of if not when they imploded. 

  They started slow but better thanthe year before and dealt Duchene to the Senators in early November for a nice package including the Sens first rounder (2019) a second and third, Samuel Girard and Kamenev in a three team deal. They continued to win as many as they lost until early December when Nathan Mackinnon made a statement with his play by becoming the force he had been predicted to be for years, teamed with Landeskog and Rantanen to form a deadly line, the Avalanche in spite of defense that was often an adventure, mediocre goaltending and very little forward production beyond the dominant first line pushed past the Blues to secure the final playoff spot.

  It was a wild ride. They went on a 10 game winning steak, lost 6 of 7, had a 9 game point streak (6-0-3) built a nice lead before losing 6 of the final 8 to set up the final game of the year against the Blues which they won 5-2 to make the playoffs.

 

TOP PROSPECTS

Girard is now established as an undersized but skilled defenseman. Kamenev is a middling or slightly better forward prospect. First round pick Cale Makar will likely stick on the blueline and a lot is expected, very skilled player. Conor Timmins is yet another top defensive prospect who will almost certainly bounce between NHL and AHL action this year. Some people like forward AJ Greer and the team needs secondary scoring but I don't think much of him.

 

FREE AGENTS

 Bernier did a solid if unspectacular job of filling in whenever Varlamov inevitably went down. They would like him back and he has said the right things.

Comeau was a nice rugged veteran middle six presence who they would like to keep as well. That is it. With over 22 million in available cap space and only a few RFA to take care of they could be a big player in free agency.

 

OFFSEASON QUESTIONS:

 

WILL THEY SPEND TO THE CAP

They have more money than most cap wise, I have read them linked to about everyone,  Sakic has said he would like to stay the course and continue the youth movement which has fans thinking not much will happen this offseason but they have the money, it is a matter of identifying who fits your needs and making it happen. 

  Lets say they sign Bernier/Comeau for 6 million between them and their limited RFA another 4 million they still have 12 million to spend. A 2nd pair stay at home defender is a must as is another winger who can finish. I gotta think that in spite of Sakics comments he has to address true needs.

 

WAS LAST YEAR FOR REAL? IMHO no, it was a historic swing, 46 points in the standings just doesn't happen. What goes up tends to go down, I think they are due to slip not just a little but a lot. They have a top line as good as anyones but not much else. If Mackinnon continues to dominate and play huge minutes they may remain somewhat competitive.

 

 ARE THEY BUILDING A DEFENSE? Yes, a damn good one. Johnson does nothing spectacularly but everything well, Barrie is small but a great puck mover, Girard is cut from the same mold, throw in the crazy talented Makar and toss in Timmins for good measure, this has the making of a very talented unit that will rush the puck on all three pairs. Size and strength are a concern as is inexperience but I really like the grouping. Zadorov is the other guy in the mix and he is talented and loves to hit and can rush the puck as well. 

 

IS THERE HOPE FOR THE MIDDLE SIX FORWARDS? A mixed bag,  rookie Kerfoot was okay at times and looked promising at others, Soderberg and Nieto are just bodies as is Colin Wilson and former top pick Yakupov. The hope is that Compher and Jost who have been ranked highly within the organization will team with Kerfoot to form a solid kid line on the second line. It is possible but I see flaws with all three. Even if they improve the first line is likely to slip some this year and a third line of Soderberg centering Nieto and Yak is glaringly bad.

 

 

 

 

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