We move on today to the team that had the most eventful August, the Colorado Avalanche, who saw franchise legend Patrick Roy resign from his position as head coach. Here to tell us more about the Avs’ outlook is Ethan Fisher:
1. Most people spent the summer thinking Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie would be traded because they didn't fit in Patrick Roy's system. Instead, Roy ended up leaving the team. How does that effect the immediate outlook for this team?
Most of us at MHH went into the summer begging for Duchene and Barrie to NOT be traded, and as we now know, they weren't, which warranted a sigh of relief from me and a majority of Avs fans. When Roy left and details came out about how he wasn't on the same page as GM Joe Sakic, we were mostly in agreement this worked out the best way it could. We didn't want anyone in the core traded, particularly Duchene and Barrie.
If we take off our burgundy and blue colored glasses, we see that Roy isn't exactly a great NHL coach. All you have to do to see that is look at possession numbers and shot differentials. So as far as how it affects the team's immediate outlook, we now have a cautious sense of optimism with Jared Bednar. There's a lot to like about what Bednar has done with his career, having worked his way up from the lowest levels and then winning a championship in the AHL. So his coaching history warrants lots of respect. As a coach, he seems to create a 2-man forecheck which we are VERY excited about because we haven't had that in a while, so we're excited about what's to come.
2. The Avs had no one score 60 points last season, but five players in the 50s. Who will lead the team in scoring over the coming year?
Assuming they all stay healthy, I'd put my money on Duchene. He cracked 30 goals in a season for the first time and seems to be coming into his peak years as a player. I think he gets another 30+ goals and 30+ assists to get into the 60's. Nathan MacKinnon is my guess for runner-up, followed by Gabe Landeskog and then Carl Soderberg, who I can legitimately see getting 45 assists with 0 goals. But that's not meant to be an insult towards Carl, because he sets up goals as well as anyone else on the roster.
3. Most people see the Central as the toughest division in hockey. Considering that, how do you expect the Avalanche to perform this season?
Well, I'm not expecting the Avs to make the playoffs this year. It would be nice, but I'm not counting on it. A lot of that has to do with the division. I think Colorado will finish 6th for the second straight year beating out Winnipeg. Nashville is my personal pick for 1st, with Dallas 2nd, Chicago 3rd, St. Louis 4th, and Minnesota 5th. The Avs made a lot of depth moves this offseason. Nothing splashy, but moves that sure up the 3rd and 4th lines along with the 2nd and 3rd defensive pairings. I do believe in my heart of hearts the core of Duchene, Landeskog, MacKinnon, Barrie, Erik Johnson, and Varlamov is good enough to win a championship some day. I really do, but they need help in the middle which Colorado is slowly working towards. In due time, I think the Avs will be a Cup contender again, but to get there this team still needs to grow, and the top teams in the Central will have to start regressing for that to happen.