The Colorado Avalanche finished the 2008-2009 campaign without a playoff birth for the first time since moving to Denver in 1995. This once proud franchise headed into the summer with a lot of holes to fill. Free agent tough guy/defenseman David Koci and goaltender Craig Anderson have been added to the mix for the next two years but that’s been about it. Even the average fan has to ask, has Colorado done enough to return to the post-season this Spring or have they possibly become even a less competitive squad?
Joe Sakic retired this summer. Sakic has been the heart and soul of this franchise going back to his days with the Quebec Nordiques. Ryan Smyth, who led Colorado in scoring last year, was traded to the LA Kings. It was thought that the Colorado Avalanche would seriously look at Marian Hossa or Marian Gaborik to replace the loss of these two key front line components. Neither player even visited Denver during free agency. On the plus side, The Smyth deal did bring in promising young defensemen Tom Preissing and Kyle Quincey, a move that should solidify the blue line for many years.
The recent problem in Denver however has been scoring and goaltending. July addition, goaltender Craig Anderson, will be an improvement over Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft but Colorado’s “goals for” category will still be lacking. Will a healthy Paul Stastny put the Avalanche in playoff contention? Can Wojtek Wolski double the 14 goals that he scored last season? Is it possible that August could bring with it the likes of Mats Sundin, Maxim Afinogenov or the return of Alex Tanguay to the Mile High City? Only time will tell. The Avalanche finished in the Western Conference’s cellar in 08-09 and currently the 09-10 season looks like it will be even more of a struggle.