The Colorado Avalanche have gone through a lot of change since the arrivals of Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy. Last season, more than half the team was overhauled, and now they can move forward with their plan. This summer, they’ve added some nice pieces to the puzzle, not just for the NHL, but for their AHL team in San Antonio as well.
It is very important for the Avalanche to possess a solid farm system, to create a winning culture/mentality throughout the entire organization. The San Antonio Rampage are now a much better team with the new additions recently added, which will only benefit everyone involved, from prospects to veterans.
Kudos to the @Avalanche and their staff. Were aggressive in filling Rampage needs. Foundation now there. Hope everyone enjoys their holiday!
— Dan Weiss (@DanWeissPBP) July 1, 2016
We all know the Avalanche have a very talented group of young core forwards, though it’s very important that they are surrounded by the right pieces. Same can be said for the defense, but time will only tell if they have found the proper recipe for success heading into the future.
With Mikkel Boedker and Shawn Matthias gone, both of whom were acquired around the trade deadline, Colorado essentially replaced them immediately. Mikko Rantanen, the young and very promising prospect will most likely take Boedker’s place, and that should be welcomed by fans.
They then replaced Matthias with Joe Colborne, who was signed as a free agent after the Calgary Flames didn’t qualify him. Colborne had 22 points in the last 22 games for the Flames, why would they not want to keep him? Their loss, Colorado’s gain. Colborne is also familiar with the area, having played college hockey at the University of Denver.
There are a few “X factors” amongst the forwards, players like J.T. Compher and newly acquired Rocco Grimaldi will be watched closely to see if they can make the Avalanche right out of camp. Another important player to watch is Mikhail Grigorenko. If he can continue his development with Colorado like he showed last year, that will go a very long way towards solidifying that top-nine group of forwards.
It is time for Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon to take that next step and lead the way up front. The pressure is on, and Sakic is watching.
Defense and Goaltending
Moving on to the defensive side of the team, this is where most of the movement has occurred since the end of last year. They have improved, by how much we can’t say yet obviously. The Avs are going to rely on top prospects Nikita Zadorov and Chris Bigras to step up, which is very exciting. Those two along with Eric Gelinas, Patrick Weircioch(another former DU player), Fedor Tyutin, and Duncan Siemens are much better alternatives to Nate Guenin, Nick Holden, Zach Redmond, and Brad Stuart.
Colorado could still be looking to make a big trade involving a top defender coming back, as that is what Sakic covets most of all. We’ll have to wait and see if that actually materializes or not however. For now we are working with what we have.
As for the goaltending department, it’s been rather quiet. Colorado brought in prospect Chase Marchand(yet another Huskie), and made a nice trade sending Reto Berra to the Florida Panthers for Grimaldi. Leaving their duo at the NHL level of Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard intact.
Potential 2016-17 Lineup
With all that said, here’s a look at how the Avalanche could line up come the season opener, obviously with some players interchangeable, though I’d like to see these lines in particular.
- Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
- Grigorenko – Duchene – Colborne
- Comeau – Soderberg – Iginla
- Martinsen/McLeod – Mitchell/Compher – Grimaldi/Mitchell
- Beauchemin – Johnson
- Zadorov – Barrie
- Bigras – Gelinas/Weircioch/Tyutin/Seimens
Overall they have improved, albeit slightly. Though remember, they only just missed out on the playoffs during the final stretch of the year, if this team can get off to a better start(which shouldn’t be hard!), the Avalanche will be back playing playoff hockey once again.