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_K)
2014 Season: 52-22-8, 112 pts (1st Central Division, 2nd Western Conference)
C Dany Briere
RW Jarome Iginla
RW Jesse Winchester
D Brad Stuart
C Paul Stastny
RW P-A Parenteau
D Matt Hunwick
G J.S. Giguère
Coming off of their surprising success in 2013-14, the Colorado Avalanche are a sure bet to draw a great deal of attention this year. Will they be able to continue where they left off in Patrick Roy’s inaugural run as head coach? Surely, they won’t sneak up on anyone. The young talent is developing nicely and they added the veteran leadership that every team wants in their dressing room. But did the Avalanche get TOO old? Jarome Iginla leads the bill in this category and his numbers last season would indicate that he has something left in his tank. But as we learned in Pittsburgh, how Iginla is used makes all of the difference.
In Boston, Iginla found a home with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. He’s likely to saddle up with Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene in Colorado. That’s not a bad collection of talent, but it will be interesting to see how they gel. In Boston he had a tough, physical line that creates space with their muscle and in Colorado we see a fast, skilled line that creates space with their speed. Either way, Iginla is a 500-goal scorer for a reason and he has three years to figure out the right chemistry in Colorado.
The Avalanche have also added Dany Briere, who is a playoff juggernaut; Brad Stuart, a veteran presence on the blue line with Stanley Cup ring; and Jesse Winchester, who is Jesse Winchester.
Parting ways with the team is center Paul Stastny who signed with the St. Louis Blues for four years at 7 MILLION DOLLARS PER. So good for you, Colorado. You win.
For the first time in a long time, the Avalanche will enter the year with some security surrounding Ryan O’Reilly, who signed a two-year deal in the offseason. O’Reilly is a consistent winger and the perfect compliment for Nathan Mackinnon’s sophomore season. He’s also a perfect gentleman who holds doors for the ladies and volunteers at soup kitchens in between shifts, earning him the Lady Byng Trophy in 2014. Mackinnon, for his part, dazzled in his debut campaign with 24 goals and 39 assists—good enough for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. There’s nothing to suggest that he won’t be even better in 2015. He’s a good Cole Harbour kid and that’s just what they do.
Gone from the crease in Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who spent most of last year backing up Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov revived his career last season under the tutelage of legendary goaltending coach François Allaire. His domination through the first half of the season was enough for the Avalanche to extend him for five years. He finished the season with a .927 Save Percentage and a 2.41 goals against and came in second place in voting for the Vezina Trophy.
The Colorado Avalanche will be among the NHL elite this season. Every team in the West is faced with a demanding schedule against some stiff competition and the standings are sure to be a difficult ladder to climb, but the Avalanche will be there. The NHL season is an 82-game marathon, but if you don’t approach it like a sprint in the Western Conference you’re likely to find yourself looking up pretty quickly.
Ken Will (@PensNation_K)