The Colorado Avalanche had a season to remember in 2013-14.
After finishing with the league’s second worst record in the lockout shortened
season, they played to a 52 win season which won the Central Division and
placed them third overall in the NHL. Moving up 26 spots is impressive, but
expectations heading into 2014-15 are at an all-time high.
Jarome Iginla –RW Paul Stastny – C
Danny Briere – C/RW P.A
Parenteau – RW
Brad Stuart – D Andre
Benoit – D
Jesse Winchester – C Matt
Hunwick – D
Zach Redmond – D
Ben Street – C
They lost Paul Stastny in Free Agency to St. Louis, but they
have their top-4 scorers (Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and
Nathan MacKinnon) from last season all returning. The most impressive thing
about those four, is they are all 23-years-old or younger with an average age
With Stastny departing, they lose 60 points (25G / 35A) in
71 games. How do you replace that production? Simple. You bring in Jarome Iginla. Iggy scored 30 goals last season, that is only the 12th time he has
scored at least 30… No big deal. The Avs also dealt P.A Parenteau to Montreal
for veteran forward and big-game star Daniel Briere. Parenteau’s relationship
with head coach Patrick Roy never got off of the ground, so they bring in a
low-maintainace forward who brings with him a wealth of experience and
leadership–exactly what a young squad needs.
It’s hard not to love what the Avalanche are doing here.
They have an awesome year, they realize they have an abundance of young talent
and how do you keep those guys on track? Veteran leadership.
Sure Iginla is 37-years-old, but he is still an elite goal
scorer and you can not state how valuable it is to have a player like that in
your locker room. They will also enjoy the return of 34-year-old Alex Tanguay,
who missed 66 games last year with a knee injury, that later developed into a
The Avalanche were a terrible possession team last year
(47.4 CF% – 25th) and with the group of D-men they have you would think that
would have been a problem. On paper their blueline looks mediocre, but they
defied the odds last season.
Former first overall pick Erik Johnson finally put together
a good season. This guys had disappointed through five seasons, but last year
posted career-highs in assists (30), points (39), plus/minus (plus-5), shooting
percentage (5.7%) and was sixth on the team in hits (136) and second in blocked
shots (130). As their top blueliner they need more of that from the 26-year-old
in 2014-15. Jan Hejda, 36, will likely line up with Johnson again, but won’t be
a huge fantasy contributor. They brought in veteran Brad Stuart from San Jose,
but his offensive game is gone at this point in his career, but Tyson Barrie’s
is just getting underway. Barrie, 23, missed 18 games, but still posted 13
goals and 25 assists (38 points), which was one behind Johnson and tied him
with Mike Green for 28th in the NHL among D-men. Heading into his third full
season, Barrie should be the Avalanche’s points leader on the back-end.
I said that their blueline defied the odds last season, but
was it the D-men or Semyon Varlamov’s great season that covered up for the
team’s consistent lack of possession? He posted the league’s third best SV%
(.927) and led the NHL in wins (41). His back-up is 27 year-old Reto Berra who
posted a 3.07 GAA and .893 SV% in his first NHL season between Calgary and
Colorado and will not challenge Varly for starts unless he implodes or runs
into more trouble with the law.
Season prediction: Despite improving as a team, the Avs find
themselves in the NHL’s hardest division and finish 4th in the Central and 6th
overall in the Western Conference.
View the Avs’ entire roster and cap space heading into the
2014 – 2015 season