All That Has Transpired: Colorado Avalanche

We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.

Today, we take a look at the Colorado Avalanche.
By:  Ken Will (@PensNation_Ken)

Colorado Avalanche

2013 Season: 16-25-7, 39 pts (5th Northwest Division, 15th Eastern Conference)


Patrick Roy

D Nate Guenin (ANA)
D Andre Benoit (OTT)
D Nick Holden (CBJ)
RW Guillaume Desbiens (VAN)
RW J.T. Wyman (TBL)
D Cory Sarich (CGY)
W Alex Tanguay
D Karl Stollery (FA)

D Joel Chouinard
F Mike Connolly
W Aaron Palushaj (CAR)
RW Geoff Walker (TBL)
D Shane O’Brien (CGY)
W David Jones (CGY)
F Bill Thomas
D Sean Sullivan

Promising Prospects:
C Nathan MacKinnon
C Michael Sgarbossa
D Tyson Barrie
D Duncan Siemens
G Calvin Pickard

The Colorado Avalanche organization and fans would like to put the 2013 season behind them as quickly as possible, and they have made all of the right moves during the offseason to make it seem like an already distant memory. On the ice, they are already loaded up with young talent at forward. Add 2013 first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon to a cast of players that already includes Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog and you have a pretty well-rounded core of players to lead this team into a new generation of success.

But how do you sell that kind of hope? Why not hire the two biggest names associated with Colorado’s glory years to run the team. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are unquestionably foot that bill in Denver. Before the maintenance staff had even laid ice at the Pepsi Center, the culture in the dressing room had already been transformed–an important step for any team trying to establish a winning tradition. But there is still a lot of work to be done, and Patrick Roy has a lot of questions to answer; most notably, is he capable of coaching an NHL team?

Roy comes into the job with zero NHL experience, but he has plenty of hours logged behind the bench with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, including a Memorial Cup championship in his first year as head coach (2006). But, as history shows, success at the junior level does not always translate to professional success. But this is Patrick Roy we are talking about. He is not your typical junior coach. He is a hall of famer who understands the needs–and the egos–of professional athletes. The fact that Roy is also inheriting a young team is a benefit to his entrance to coaching at this level.

Likewise, Joe Sakic is stepping into the front office. He has already made waves as he took over the headlines at the NHL draft by shopping the first overall pick aggressively before selecting MacKinnon. His biggest move thus far has been reuniting Colorado with Alex Tanguay and bringing in defenseman Cory Sarich while sending David Jones and Shane O’Brien to Calgary. Like Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay, Sakic is a general manager who will be respected in circles throughout the league.

While the Avalanche get an A up front, they cannot be satisfied with the blue line or between the pipes. Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are both players who have put up some impressive numbers during their time in the NHL. But Giguere is 36 years old and has not appeared in more than 36 games since the 2008-09 season with Anaheim and Varlamov’s biggest post-season success was the 2009 run with the Washington Capitals that ended with the Game 7 meltdown against the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, Varlamov is still young, and at 25 his best years could well be ahead of him. If there’s anything that has been proven about goaltenders, it is that the older players continue to thrive even as the NHL becomes more of a young man’s league. Giguere has  a cup already and Varlamov has the talent–but they just need to find a way to make it happen in Colorado.

On the blue line, the Avalanche need more from their young defenseman Erik Johnson, who finished last season with four points and a minus-three [which is isn’t terrible when you consider the team GAA of 3.12]. You can count Ryan Wilson as an addition to the lineup since he missed all but twelve games to injury last regular season and also add Cory Sarich to the defensive corps. But when Jan Hejda is your star defeseman, there are going to be question marks–a punctuation that often follows “Should the Avalanche have drafted Seth Jones?”

Ken Will (@PensNation_Ken)