According to the Denver Post, the Colorado Avalanche are not interested in signing any high end free agents this summer. The article mentions that the Avs will continue to build from within and grow their roster from their prospects.
I think the Avalanche, along with a couple other teams like the Canucks and the Rangers, are going to dominate the league for a long period. They have everything they need to succeed and I love the idea of them wanting to further their already elite team through their own young guys.
In this article I will be going over their whole roster and prospect pool and explaining why I believe this is the team of the future.
Let’s begin with their first line. Composed of wingers Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog along with center Nathan Mackinnon, this is arguably the best line in all of hockey. They have the capacity to absolutely take over any game they play in whether it be through a highlight reel play from Mackinnon or from a snipe by Landeskog. On top of having one of the best lines in hockey, the Avs are lucky having locked it up at an extremely affordable price : all three contracts combined amount to a bit over 21 million dollars towards the salary cap. To put this is perspective. Toronto has 33 million dollars locked up for Matthews, Marner and Tavares. This line is what any team dreams of having when building a dynasty.
Their second line, with the help of a couple breakout seasons, has become a solid two way contributor for the Avalanche. The trio of Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin has solidified itself as a worthy second line at the NHL level. Kadri blossomed as a safe centerman in Toronto and has brought that experience with him to Colorado following the Tyson Barrie trade. Burakovsky, since his first season in the NHL, was being held back by a deep offensive core in Washington. He thrived this season in Colorado having loads of ice time. Nichushkin had a decent contribution offensively with 27 points in 65 games but his 6’04 210 pound frame brings a lot more to the table than just offense.
Now let’s talk about their bottom six forwards. A group composed of Colin Wilson, Martin Kaut, Vladislav Namestnikov, Joonas Donskoi, JT Compher and Tyson Jost is one of the best supportings casts in the league. They have a very deep forward group considering there are four other guys I could have included in this portion of the roster. While they are relied on to shut down the opposition, there is a lot of offensive potential in this group, guys like Kaut and Namestnikov could easily find themselves in top six roles in the future.
I absolutely love the forwards on this roster, I think they have the perfect blend of veterans and young players to be strong for the next decade. They have most of these guys locked up for affordable prices, it’s hard to find a contract that is obviously bad. While their prospect pool is more defensively inclined, they do have a couple great players up front in Alex Newhook and Shane Bowers who should help their squad in the coming years.
The defensive core on the Avalanche should be considered elite throughout the league for the next decade. Composed of Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, Erik Johnson, Ian Cole and prospects Bowen Byram and Connor Timmins who are expected to make it out of camp next season, if they can lock these guys up they’ll be set for a long time.
Makar is fresh off a calder worthy rookie season and seems legit, he has the tools to be the PP1 quarterback for the next decade. Graves, a defensive defenseman, finishes the first pairing perfectly by covering up when Makar goes on the rush, he lead the league this year in +/- at 40. This is a duo worthy of consideration for the best of the league.
Girard is a two way defender capable of contributing in every aspect of the game. He’s locked up at an affordable 4 million dollars each year for the next six seasons. This duo is completed by Erik Johnson a reliable veteran that I’d have no problem sending on the ice in any situation. This pair, while being able to put up some points, are more of a shut down asset for the team.
The third pair next year could realistically be the best one in the league. Ian Cole is a very solid defensive player and with both Byram and Timmins being elite prospects he could very well end up being moved out of the lineup. I could see both guys having success as first year players in the NHL, especially Byram who I have as a front runner in the Calder trophy race. Byram will most likely quarterback the second power play unit and this pair could end up being different if he moves up in the pairings.
Finally, while the goalie situation is not the best in Colorado, they have two solid goaltenders in Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. The starter role is currently in Grubauer is possession but that could change quickly if Francouz goes on a run. They do have one solid goalie prospect in Justus Annunen who had a solid season in the Liiga this year. If there’s one spot on their roster i’d consider improving through a trade or the draft if I were Joe Sakic it’s the goaltending.
To conclude, the Avalanche has one of the deepest forwards core in the league and one of the most elite young groups on the blue line in recent history. I firmly believe they are not far away from contending for a Stanley Cup. Avs fans should get excited for what’s to come.
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