After winning the Central division with 112 points in the 2013-2014 season, the Colorado Avalanche looked to be a team on the rise. A young core of talented future stars seemed destined to only improve. The team has gone in the opposite direction however, notching 90 and 82 points in each of the last two years respectively. After missing the playoffs for a second straight time, Colorado General Manager Joe Sakic will have his work cut out for him this offseason.
The team spent a lot of time in their own zone this season, ranking near the bottom of the league in shots allowed, goals allowed and penalty kill percentage. As a result they were also in the bottom five of shots taken and possession. Those statistics are somewhat surprising considering the talent on the roster. Center Matt Duchene scored 30 goals for the first time in his career and let the team with 59 points. 23 year old Gabriel Landeskog scored at least 20 goals for the 3rd straight season and Nathan Mackinnon (20) added 52 points in 72 games. These personal accomplishments however were not enough to overcome the issues with defense and goaltending.
Pending Free Agents: It would probably be easier to name the players not up for free agency as opposed to those that are. The organization has more than half of its players (in Colorado and minor league San Antonio) without a contract this offseason. The two most notable are Mackinnon and 24 year old defenseman Tyson Barrie. The two restricted free agents will both be looking for significant raises, which is a problem for a cap strapped team like Colorado. Veterans Jarome Iginla and Brad Stuart are set to make $9 million dollars next season, which truly limits what the team can do.
Another restricted free agent the team will try to keep is goalie Calvin Pickard. The 24 year old outplayed starter Semyon Varlamov, which could make the high priced Varlamov available on the trade market.
Draft Picks: Considering the team’s struggles on defense, and the fact that one of their top blue liners is 35 years old, there is a good chance Colorado will take a defenseman when they pick at number ten. Some options may be Jake Bean, Dante Fabbro and Olli Juolevi.
Free Agent Additions: As previously mentioned, the Avalanche do not have a lot of cap room and still need to sign many of their own players. That being the case, there are rumors swirling the team could trade anyone, including Duchene, Mackinnon and Barrie. If they are able to free up some cap space, the team has been linked to Russian forward Alexander Radulov. After failing in his initial NHL stint in 2012 because of character concerns, it appears Radulov is ready to return the U.S. and Colorado may try to snap him up.