It’s hard to argue that the Colorado Avalanche are much improved from their last season’s debacle. They began with replacing former head coach Joe Sacco with Hall of Fame goaltender, Patrick Roy. Then Roy followed through with his pre-draft promises and drafted Nathan MacKinnon over defenseman Seth Jones. While the Avalanche have improved, they are still a bit away from being a playoff team. Number 23 on our NHL Season Countdown is the Colorado Avalanche.
The Colorado Avalanche (Photo: hockeyfanland.com)
After drafting Mackinnon, the Avalanche traded
David Jones and Shane O’Brien to the Calgary Flames for Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich. They also chose to part ways Greg Zanon through a buy-out and decided not to sign Milan Hejduk. The Avalanche elected to go with a younger, faster team for the 2013-2014 season.
The biggest move for the Avalanche this off season is moving divisions. Colorado will now be conference rivals with Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville and Dallas. This could be a bit of a tough move for the Avalanche after playing in a division with the Oilers, Flames, and Wild last season.
Colorado’s offense is extremely promising and adding Nathan MacKinnon is only going to make them better. Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, and Ryan O’Reilly are a promising young core who are extremely fast. P.A Parenteau, Paul Stastny, and Steve Downie are also great for depth. John Mitchell also put together a pretty impressive season last year. In fact, Colorado’s top 9 forwards are extremely impressive. The only question mark with the forwards is injury. Last season, Gabriel Landeskog and Steve Downie both missed a great deal of time due to injury. Also Ryan O’Reilly missed some time due to long contract discussion which ended with an offer sheet from Calgary. Having the entire line-up in for a full season could help the Avs climb in the standings.
Defense on the other hand is a bit of an issue. Granted, last season Erik Johnsons and Ryan Wilson missed a bit of time with injury. Colorado lacks top-pairing defensemen that can eat a good amount of minutes or can play against a team’s top line. Jan Hejda and Matt Hunwick are a couple of veterans anchoring the Avalanche blue line. Also, Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott could make the jump to full time NHL-ers but they alone won’t be enough to help this train wreck of a defensive core.
Semyon Varlamov has proved that if he can stay healthy he can steal games and be a legitimate number one goaltender. He was a bright spot on an injured and sub-par Avalanche team last season. Jean-Sebastien Giguere has also proved that despite his age, he can still be a very solid back-up goaltender. The goaltending duo in Colorado is going to get peppered with shots and might not be enough to hang in against the new divisions rivals in St. Louis and Chicago.
Colorado is a team that could go either way in the standings. They could surprise a lot of people and make the playoffs or they can disappoint and finish in dead last. We believe that the Avalanche could show a lot of promise, but aren’t ready to be a playoff team. Their defense is still very weak, especially compared to their new divisions rivals.