Regular Season: Injures to key players as well as the extended holdout by Ryan O’Reilly contributed to a poor season for the Avalanche, one that resulted in a shakeup in the front office and behind the bench, as well as winning the draft lottery and getting the first overall pick.
Playoffs: Finished last in the Western Conference, 16 points out of the playoffs.
Ready To Make The Jump: F Nathan MacKinnon
BIG 3 FACTORS
1. D-funct: The Avalanche’s big problem lies on the blue line, and swapping O’Brien for Sarich and Benoit isn’t going to fix that problem. They opted for offense with the first overall pick, when the consensus number 1 pick was defenseman & Colorado native Seth Jones. That could be a short term growing pain with some regret.
2. Roy & Sakic: The new braintrust continues the trend of having star players in management roles. It has worked for some, but others have fizzled. Sakic has paid his dues learning the ropes, and should not go the way of Brett Hull. Roy will be fiery behind the bench, and with some track record in junior, we will see how that translates to the NHL level.
3. Young Core Too Young?: The Avalanche have only 4 skaters on the roster over the age of 30, and two of them were acquired this summer via trade. There will be a lot of pressure on the young leaders like Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene to lead from the front at relatively young ages.
PROGNOSIS: The Avalanche stunned many by passing up on a young stud blueliner, and that might hurt them this year as they really haven’t upgraded on the area that hurt them so badly – the goals against. The Avalanche finished 27th in the league in goals against, and without making any drastic changes there will have to be an improvement from within. Offense won’t be an issue, but its tough to outgun and outrun teams every night, especially with such a young team.
PREDICTION: 5th Central Division
We will be previewing every NHL team ahead of Training Camp which for most teams will begin on Sept 11th. As a twist, we will be unveiling our teams in reverse order to how I predict they will finish in the standings. Here is the schedule (you can click on a team name to see the preview for that team):
|1||Sept 9||Sept 8||Sept 7||Sept 6|
|2||Sept 5||Sept 4||Sept 3||Sept 2|
|3||Sept 1||Aug 31||Aug 30||Aug 29|
|4||Aug 28||Aug 27||Aug 26||Aug 25|
|5||Aug 24||Aug 23||Avalanche||Oilers|