The winds of change have blown through Denver, so it isn't quite the same team that lost in the playoffs to the Minnesota Wild, after dazzling us in the regular season. No, although most of the core pieces are still there, a few changes have been made and you can argue that the team improved in their intangibles, but may have suffered a little in their overall talent level.
The team now boasts both the reigning rookie and coach of the year, a future hall-of-famer and a young core that will make NHL general managers blush. The additions of some seasoned veterans, both up front and on the blueline should only make the kids a little wiser in a shorter period of time and these Avalanche players could be a good source of players for our hockey pool draft.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Matt Duchene||80||6.000||Erik Johnson||40||3.750||Semyon Varlamov||85||5.900|
|Ryan O'Reilly||65||6.000||Nick Holden||30||0.600||Reto Berra||20||1.450|
|Gabriel Landeskog||65||5.500||Jan Hejda||20||3.250|
|Nathan MacKinnon||60||0.925||Brad Stuart||15||3.600|
|Jarome Iginla||50||5.333||Ryan Wilson||10||2.250|
|Alex Tanguay||40||3.500||Nate Guenin||5||0.800|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||0.750|
|Joey Hishon||25||0.851||Duncan Siemens||15||0.863|
|Jesse Winchester||15||0.900||Stefan Elliott||15||0.851|
|Marc-Andre Cliché||5||0.700||Maxim Noreau||10||0.625|
|Ben Street||5||0.650||Zach Redmond||5||0.750|
First Round Picks
This could be a well-argued point, but I think given some of the circumstances and where some of these kids fit into the line-up and where they are in their careers, I don't think I would put too many of them in the 1st round of the hockey pool draft. Right now, I only have two players there in goalie Semyon Varlamov and forward Matt Duchene, who should each hit the 80+ point range this coming season. I'm sure would argue for one more, at the very least, but I don't think they're quite there... yet!
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
I am going to go off the board a little bit with my pick here in Colorado, because I think 34-year old forward Alex Tanguay may be the most intriguing piece of the puzzle of this team, going into the season.
Tanguay barely had a cup of coffee upon his return with his original club, playing in only 16 games, scoring 4 goals and 11 points, hardly getting a taste of what was to come with the powerhouse group of young players. Sure, Tanguay didn't have a strong season last year, between knee and hip injuries, but I think a comeback to a confident team will be rejuvenating for Tanguay and he could very well thrive under these parameters.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Avalanche may have lost a bit of their core group of young players, but they have definitely done a good job to replace that loss with some more of a veteran presence. Jarome Iginla and Daniel Briere should both be pool-worthy and possibly even under-projected, but their role will be to push the young forwards along. A decent playoff run last year should boost the confidence of their youth, but I can't see big pushes, as it was a long year in 2014 and it could make for a slow start to the year. They'll get points, no question, but they may not come quite as easy in 2015.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Today, I have only a couple of pool worthy defensemen listed on the projected roster, as one remains unsigned. Erik Johnson should be primed to have another good go at 2015, while newcomer Nick Holden should get a good look at the draft. Holden may be one of those guys who slips down in the draft order, due to a lack of name recognition. If you can hold out a round or two, you may end up with a bargain there.
Number one is Varlamov, but the new number two is Reto Berra. Berra, who was acquired from Calgary at the deadline last season, only appeared twice in an Avalanche uniform, failing to win in either appearance. Berra played really well for a Flames team that couldn't give him any scoring support, but in a regular shift with the Avalanche, he may get a better shot at earning some wins, which don't only come in extra time.
Team To Pick From?
The Avalanche are somewhat top heavy, in a good way, but their depth is really only good for eating up minutes and not so much for quality scoring. I think the Avs will be picked apart fairly early, leaving behind only the scraps. If the reasonable ones are still there, go for it, but I have my doubts.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
One unsigned restricted free agent still in need of a deal, Tyson Barrie from the blueline. Barrie, I believe, is poised to have a big year and is in need of a new deal. He put up 38 points in only 64 games last season and should improve upon that, so how much is that worth to the Avalanche? They have $6.7 million left in space with only three roster spots to fill, so his market value could be reached in there, but I'm sure the Avalanche want a better bridge deal to get him to a long-term agreement.
Colorado did suffer through some injuries last season, but everyone does appear to be good to go for training camp at the moment. Barrie's knee and Tanguay's hip should both be 100% for the start of the season.