We’re back with a Season Primer for your Monday night, taking a look at the Colorado Avalanche. After a successful 2013-14 season, mostly due to the superhuman goaltending of Semyon Varlamov, the Avalanche came into this past season with high expectations from some, and others saying that a decline in the standings was inevitable. Despite another strong season from Varlamov, a disappointing all around performance from the team led to a 7th place finish in the Central Division. Colorado was involved in one of the biggest moves this offseason, sending forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn to Buffalo in exchange for forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and J.T. Compher, as well as defenceman Nikita Zadorov. An unrestricted free agent heading into next season, Colorado felt that they wouldn’t have the cap space to re-sign O’Reilly.
Key Additions: C Carl Soderberg, C Mikhail Grigorenko, RW Blake Comeau, RW Mikko Rantanen, LD Francois Beauchemin, LD Nikita Zadorov
Key Subtractions: C Ryan O’Reilly, LW Jamie McGinn, RW Daniel Briere, LD Jan Hejda
While O’Reilly and McGinn are big subtractions for the Avs, they have significantly improved their defence with the additions of Francois Beauchemin and Nikita Zadorov. They were also able to ensure their forward depth remains intact with the additions of Carl Soderberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Blake Comeau. All in all, while Colorado’s forward group may not be as good, their significantly better defence, which was something they needed, should improve this team.
In addition, the Avalanche added Mikko Rantanen through the draft, who could become a fixture in their top 6 for many years.
Projected Lines (All Players Healthy):
Gabriel Landeskog – Carl Soderberg – Nathan MacKinnon
Alex Tanguay – Matt Duchene – Jarome Iginla
John Mitchell – Mikhail Grigorenko – Blake Comeau
Cody McLeod – Marc-Andre Cliche – Dennis Everberg
Francois Beauchemin – Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov – Tyson Barrie
Nick Holden – Brad Stuart
Roster Contenders: C Jesse Winchester (Injury status unknown), C Freddie Hamilton, C Joey Hishon, C Ben Street, C Colin Smith, LW Andrew Agozzino, LW Andreas Martinsen, RW Borna Rendulic, RW Mikko Rantanen, LD Duncan Siemens, LD Chris Bigras, RD Stefan Elliott, RD Mat Clark, RD Maxim Noreau, G Calvin Pickard
Colorado has a decent forward group. It would really help them if Grigorenko panned out. One thing that could soon become a problem are aging wingers Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, who are 35 and 38 respectively. Eventually they will have to be replaced, but Mikko Rantanen is the only real elite forward prospect in the system. Another reason why Grigorenko elevating his game could really help this team.
As mentioned, Colorado’s defence has improved significantly, and there are some decent prospects in the system, led by Chris Bigras, who could be on this roster sooner rather than later. Also, will someone force Brad Stuart out of the lineup by season’s end?
In goal, we have Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra, plus the promising Calvin Pickard in the system.
In conclusion, I don’t think this is a playoff team yet, but they have made improvements to their weakest position that should allow them to improve their puck possession and add some wins.
A player to keep an eye on? Nathan MacKinnon. How many points do you think he will get this season? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!