Monday, September 23, 2013

Meet The Central Division: Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche
Head Coach: Patrick Roy (1st season with COL)
Arena: Pepsi Center (Capacity: 18,007)
2012-13 Record: 16-25-7 (Last in Western Conference)
Record vs MIN in '12-13: 1-4-0
Leading Scorer: PA Parenteau/Matt Duchene-43 points
Leading Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov-35 G, 11-21-3, 3.02 GAA, .903 SV%

2012-13 Recap: To anyone related with the Colorado Avalanche, last season never happened. The Avs began season with hopes of making the playoffs, and after a terrible start, those hopes were gone rather quickly. The Avs never recovered from that slow start, and at points, some began questioning whether players actually cared anymore. Colorado went on to have the worst record in the West, and ended up winning the Draft Lottery because of it. The awful season also cost Head Coach Joe Sacco his job. So, literally the only positive from 2012-13 was the fact Colorado got the first overall pick. 

Offseason Additions-HC Patrick Roy, C Nathan MacKinnon, LW Alex Tanguay, D Cory Sarich, D Andre Benoit, D Nick Holden, D Nate Guenin: After firing Sacco, Hockey Ops boss Joe Sakic brought in some old buddies from the Avs glory days. He first hired his netminder Patrick Roy as the team's head coach, then he traded for Alex Tanguay from Calgary. And ith that first overall pick, Sakic drafted Nate MacKinnon over D Seth Jones, a local boy. MacKinnon is a very talented center and should be making an impact on Colorado this season. 

Offseason Subtractions-HC Joe Sacco, RW David Jones, RW Aaron Palushaj, D Shane O'Brien, D Greg Zanon: To get Tanguay, Sakic shipped David Jones and Shane O'Brien to Calgary (yeah, apparently it costs that much for Alex Tanguay). As before mentioned, Joe Sacco was fired just days after the regular season due to the team's massive underachieving in 2013 (he should have been fired after the 2011-12 season). The Avs also took a huge loss in the shot blocking department when they let Greg Zanon depart via free agency. 

Top Prospects: Well since the Avs drafted him first overall, Nathan MacKinnon heads the list of Colorado prospects. He averaged a point and a half per game in the QMJHL last year and was a huge factor (actually MVP) in leading his team to the Memorial Cup title. Duncan Siemens (taken just one pick after Jonas Brodin) has come along nicely for Colorado in the WHL as he can be a physical presence on the blue line this team sorely needs. Calvin Pickard (no relation to Jean-Luc) made a huge jump into the AHL last year as Lake Erie's #1 goalie and fared very well (2.47 GAA) for just 21 years old. With the team so heavily invested in Varlamov, it does not seem likely that Pickard could be the #1 goalie anytime soon, but he could be the backup not too far down the road.

Projected Lines:
Gabriel Landeskog-Matt Duchene-Ryan O'Reilly
Alex Tanguay-Paul Stastny-PA Parenteau
Jamie McGinn-Nathan MacKinnon-Steve Downie
Cody McLeod-John Mitchell-Mark Olver

Jan Hejda-Tyson Barrie
Ryan Wilson-Erik Johnson
Matt Hunwick-Cory Sarich

Semyon Varlamov
JS Giguere

(Projected lines courtesy of

Scouting Report: Before we dive into the negatives of this team, a big positive attribute this team carries, is its ability to score. They have some elite forwards who can create plays and get the puck in the net. Just look at the top two lines. But that was the positive. Other not so good things you notice about this team is the lack of aggression from its defenseman (you literally can just walk all over them) and their forwards did a horrible job of back checking when the other team is on the attack. Semyon Varlamov can be a good goalie in this league, but he just plays too sloppy at times (bad angles, no rebound control) to be considered above average. Keep in mind all of this could very well change under new coach Patrick Roy, but this is what made the Avalanche the worst team in the West in 2012-13. They are very solid up front, but defense and goaltending will be a huge question moving forward.

Check back on Saturday to see where the Avalanche finish in the division this year.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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