THW’s Colorado Avalanche Mailbag

Colorado Avalanche

If I have learned one thing over the course of my 18 years of sports fandom it is that fans love to do two things: question all decisions made by their teams and complain about said decisions. The Colorado Avalanche kindly oblige us by allowing us to do both on a regular basis.

Now that I’ve joined The Hockey Writers, I thought I would give back to the great Avalanche community by allowing them a place to send their questions about their favorite team. Unlike the majority of fans I don’t view the game from the stands. I’m in grad school for a degree in Sports Management, so I have become a realist and view the game from the office.

With that perspective in mind, check out the fan questions after the jump!

What do you think of the Avs new Power play? –Callie Agnew, Colorado

Since Ryan O’Reilly returned to the Avalanche the team is only 2-3-1 but the power play has gone 3/15 in that time. Even though that is still only 20%, sadly a major upgrade, the man-advantage has seen much improved movement with more chances. In  the 4-0 loss to the Oilers the Avs had a PP at the end of the 2nd period with many great chances, but they just couldn’t capitalize.

Joe Sacco has taken a risk putting five forwards on the ice on the power play, but with O’Reilly at the point, this has proven to be a risk with a decent reward. The Avalanche still have work to do but if they are to make a run for the playoffs from the 14th spot in the conference, the PP will have to be a consistent force.

Is Paul Stastny a key piece to the Avs future after his contract is up? –Marc Parsons, Alberta

For the past few years we have heard the Stastny rumors but at the end of the season he always puts up decent numbers and the Avs keep him around. When the O’Reilly drama was still going on, it seemed the team would have to keep Stastny or else they would have no centers.  Stastny has seen a decrease in production every year since 2009 but I still maintain that he is a top talent in the NHL.

I honestly believe no one on the Avs, including O’Reilly, would benefit more from a change of scenery. Stastny needs to be paired with more consistent scorers and as long as the Avalanche have David Jones he will be a Stastny linemate. More on this in the next question.

Paul Stastny Avalanche
(Icon SMI)

Will the Avalanche make any significant moves by the trade deadline? –Matty Petrero, New


Paul Stastny, Shane O’Brien, Ryan O’Byrne, Matt Hunwick, and Greg Zanon.

These are the five pieces I believe Greg Sherman will be willing at this years trade deadline. That doesn’t leave the Avalanche much of a chance for a significant move unless they finally pull the trigger on a Stastny deal, which I believe they finally will. Moving him would allow the Avalanche to do a couple things.

First, if there is any chance they keep O’Reilly they need to start repairing the relationship and giving him back Landeskog on his wing after moving Stastny is a good start. Second, this frees up an alternate captaincy for Duchene with another opening after Hejduk retires this season, another way to repair the relationship with O’Reilly. These seem like very material reasons to move Stastny but when dealing with such a young team they do matter.

Moving any of those four defencemen can become addition by subtraction due to their ability to recall Tyson Barrie.

At the end of the season, who’s the better line? MOP or DUMP? –Matt Jordan, South Carolina

MOP, for the uninitiated, refers to the Mitchell-O’Reilly-Palushaj line, while DUMP is Duchene-McGinn-Parenteau and both have looked very good since the return of O’Reilly. I absolutely love the chemistry of the MOP line and the O’Reilly-Mitchell pairing was one I called for as soon as the Avs matched the Flames offer sheet.

Palushaj is that Galiardi/Porter type with enough grit to hang with the checking guys but enough scoring ability not to make O’Reilly not have as much impact. There is one glaring issue I see with this MOP line and that is consistency. O’Reilly can maintain the level of play he has had since coming back but can Mitchell and Palushaj? That is a question that really can’t be answered just yet. Another issue is what if the MOP line doesn’t stay together, especially if Stastny is moved.

I can go on and on about the positives about the MOP line but in the end Duchene and Parenteau will be 1 and 2 on the Avs in scoring and when the Avalanche win they are the ones you will find on the score sheet. With McGinn not getting a consistent scoring stretch going it may not be the most gelled line but their ability can not be questioned. It is the best line on the team and the first line for a reason.

Who in the Avs system are fans most excited about for the future ? –Jeff Adelsberg, Ohio

Sports fans are notorious for their excitement in prospects and the future and Avalanche fans do have some to pick from. Mitchell Heard, Colin Smith, Duncan Siemens, Cameron Gaunce, Garrett Meurs, Tyson Barrie, Stefan Elliott, Joey Hishon, and Calvin Pickard are all names Avalanche fans have become quite familiar with and the thought of any making the pro team is exciting.

Putting Barrie and Elliott aside since they have had chances I’m going to focus on Siemens and Hishon. Siemens is an impressive young defensive defenseman who over his last 30 games or so has really upped his game and looks like the real deal. With the Avs defensive struggles, fans have dreamed of him making the pro roster for some time and I definitely think there is a decent chance of that next season.

Another guy to watch is Hishon, a forward in the Avs system who hasn’t played since the 2010-11 season playoffs. Hishon was a surprise first round draft pick who fans became excited for after seeing what he was capable of. It was the same Jeff Adelsberg who asked this question that spoke to Hishon recently, and Hishon informed him he expects to finally return in about two weeks, and Hishon is traveling with the Lake Erie Monsters. I know Avalanche fans are happy for Hish and will be very excited to see him play for the Monsters.

Why do the Avs keep trading their players? Budaj, Wolski, Shattenkirk, Stewart, I feel like before long the team will consist of Duchene and Landeskog and that’s it. And another thing, I love Landeskog, but giving him the C when he’s only been out a year, that’s a little bit of a slap in the face to some of the guys who’ve paid their dues. –Cherie Tinker, Kansas

I’ve seen this from a lot of Avalanche fans about how the Avs seem to let so many guys go or get rid of them in a trade. But let us look at the four players Cherie named. Only Shattenkirk is really a player the Avalanche can regret moving. Even other pieces the Avalanche have lost in recent memory, Fleischmann could not return to the Avs, Mueller had many injury concerns, and Winnik/Galiardi became McGinn. Even the dealing away of Shattenkirk enabled the Avalanche to get Landeskog and Siemens.

On the Landeskog captaincy, I never really had an issue with it and the reasoning is pretty simple. Landeskog was ROY and with his style of play, it was only a matter of time before he received the C so why wait? Why would the Avalanche give it to someone else only to take it away in time to give it to Landeskog. The only other realistic possibilities would have been Stastny, Johnson, Duchene, and O’Reilly, but Stastny and O’Reilly’s status as longterm players was/is always up in the air. Duchene had a very down season last year, and with Johnson I believe the issue of taking the C away in time was the thought.

Thank you to everyone for their questions, have a question for the next THW’s Avalanche Mailbag? Send me an email!

Follow me on Twitter: SCrociata