2010-2011 Team Preview - Colorado Avalanche

The Avs were one of the surprise teams of the league last season, when a team largely predicted to finish at or near the bottom of the Western Conference got their play together enough to scrape into the playoffs. They were fairly easily dismissed in round 1 by the Sharks, but in all it had to be considered quite a year for a very young team anticipating a real rebuild over the next couple seasons. Fans of the Colorado Avalanche then must be wondering what to expect this year. Was the play of their youngsters a fluke that is doomed to fail this season? Or will they build and develop into a rock solid playoff team? It’s a question worth asking, but frankly I’m more inclined to think the former.

Overview:

Last season the Avalanche overachieved by almost any standard. Although sneaking into the playoffs as the #8 seed has to be considered a resounding success, they are still a team with many questions. Shipping out questionable Wolski at the deadline last season was a gamble that appears to have paid off, at least in the short term, but growth in Mueller’s game will be necessary to make it a long-term win.

Key Players:

Matt Duchene, Milan Hejduk, Adam Foote, John-Michal Liles, Ryan O’Reilly, Paul Stastny

Offense:

Milan Hejduk provides some veteran offensive ability to a roster that is resoundingly dominated by youngsters. Matt Duchene could be a major player in year-end awards for years to come, and Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly are truly impressive talents. O’Reilly will obviously need to build on his solid rookie season, and Chris Stewart will need to repeat his successful season, but there are certainly some guns on the Avs squad. That said, they’re very young, and with youth comes unpredictability. The Avs will have to hope that Hejduk can provide some stability on the scoring front, but long droughts offensively could doom any playoff hopes for this team.

Defense:

Uh-oh. Adam Foote was talented, but he’s 39 years old, and plays the kind of game that is hard to play at 39 years old. The leading defensive player (based on ice time) was Kyle Quincey. Don’t get me wrong, I liked his play with the Kings before we dealt him for Ryan Smyth, but he’s just not a #1 defenseman in the NHL and any team relying on him to play as one is in some trouble. John-Michael Liles is another skilled player, but his play is inconsistent (and he’s dramatically overpaid), and relying on him may not be the wisest of decisions. But that’s ok, because they’ve got a brilliant keeper to bail them out, right? Nope. Craig Anderson is solid. And sometimes brilliant (can anyone forget the monster 1-0 win against San Jose in the playoffs?). But he doesn’t have the chops of a Ryan Miller or Martin Brodeur, and just isn’t going to be able to drag this defense over the hump.

Prediction:

If they youngsters grow and develop as some would hope, it could be a good year. More likely, they’ll struggle at times and end up just outside the tough Western Conference playoffs. I see them coming in probably around #10 in the conference. That said, with Calgary, Minnesota and Edmonton in their division, they could rack up some easy points against some patsy teams and sneak into the bottom of the playoffs. Either way, their post season will be short (or non-existant).

Tags: Adam Foote Calgary Flames Chris Stewart Colorado Avalanche Craig Anderson Edmonton Oilers John-Michael Liles Kyle Quincey Martin Brodeur Matt Duchene Milan Hejduk Minnesota Wild Paul Stastny Ryan Miller Ryan O'Reilly Ryan Smyth San Jose Sharks Wojtek Wolski

  • skyler

    This article is full of fail.

  • cody lemon

    Mr. Humes, I hope your not getting paid to write this article. “Fairly easily dismissed in round 1 by the Sharks”? Did you watch any of the games, or just the highlights?
    Agreed that the boys overachieved, but to put them at finishing 10th in their conference is just inaccurate. Your taking a gamble by saying that they are going to finish further back than last season.
    The Av’s offense is great. I would relate the young offense, Stastny, Stewart, Duchene, O’Rielly, Galiardi,Yip, and Mueller to the Blackhawks offense of 2 years ago.
    Staying healthy is the key. Our bench is deep and as long as Laqroix has his hand in it, we will be competing for the cup.I expect the Avs to grow by rooting these players into their system over the next couple of years.
    As far as the defense, well, we need one. I agree, Quincy is alright but he’s not great, JML is way over paid, and forgive me Adam but you are getting old for a hockey player. Chelios is just a freak of nature.
    A Duncan Keith and a Brent Seabrook is what they need back with Cumiskey. The Avs need their powerhouses back and points from the blue-line again and Tucker, Hannan, and Clarkie just aren’t cutting it.
    About Andy, your just flat wrong. He’s a late bloomer, that’s for sure, but he bloomed none the less. Confidence is key in a net-minder and Andy’s got a big bag of it now. If the D can just give him some help then the Avs will soon be knocking on Lord Stanley’s door.

    • http://www.theIEsolution.com Gavin Humes

      Cody, Fair points (except the unnecessary insult to start…), and certainly I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make the playoffs again. Putting them at #10 is a bit of a gamble, but it’s more of an endorsement of other teams in the conference, as opposed to against Colorado. The offense is solid, but young (as I noted) and the defense is weak (as you appear to agree). Frankly we agree on most of the points except 1)prediction, and 2)goaltending. I think Anderson comes back to earth, but we’ll have to wait and see. As they say, that’s why we play the games! I will say that the idea that the Avs have a legit chance of a Stanley Cup in the next year or two seems (to me) to be misguided. As you point out, they need a Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but picking up two gamebreaking blueliners isn’t as easy as just snapping them up off the waiver wire.

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