With the NHL season just weeks away, PHR is looking at each team, in-depth. Today: the Colorado Avalanche.
Last Season: 39-39-4 (82 points), 6th place in the Central. Did not qualify for the playoffs.
Cap Space Remaining: $1.53MM via CapFriendly.
Player to Watch: Mikko Rantanen – After going scoreless in 9 NHL games to start the year, the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft was sent down to the San Antonio Rampage, where he dominated, posting 24 goals and 60 points in 52 games. The Avalanche hope he will be able to continue his upward trajectory and make an impact at the NHL level. They’ll need the offensive help.
Key Storyline: After the sudden departure of coach Patrick Roy in August, the Avalanche will have a new coach, Jared Bednar. Can the new coach boost the club? Of the three notable additions, two players were cut by their previous teams: Tyutin was bought out and Wiercioch was not qualified as an RFA. Offensively, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene will shoulder the load, but will need captain Gabriel Landeskog, veteran Jarome Iginla, and Rantanen to step up. Newly-signed Tyson Barrie and former first overall pick Eric Johnson will anchor a blue line with little else guaranteed beyond them. Can Semyon Varlamov return to form after a year of league-average goaltending, or will young Calvin Pickard take over the net?
The Avalanche’s season depends on several players having career years under their new coach. Playing in a tough division also won’t help, so the team needs to get on the winning side of the ledger early and often to have a chance at the playoffs.