Well, I’ve taken some time, skipped some rocks on the lake, and contemplated this roller-coaster year for the Colorado Avalanche. I don’t think anyone could be disappointed with the year our boys have had, especially the fans.
For the first time in a number of years, we’ve been treated with a high energy, fast-paced offensive game with spectacular goaltending. Craig Anderson has risen to become my favorite active player, and I look forward to seeing him really settle into his role as Colorado’s #1 goaltender.
The youth of this team is staggering, and what the rookies have accomplished in this year would have been unfathomable a year ago. The biggest question is, were the rookies overachieving? Will we come back down to Earth next season and have to go through a proper rebuild when all of the rookies go through their sophomore slumps? That remains to be seen, but in my heart I believe these guys are the real deal. They’re only going to continue to improve, especially Matt Duchene, who’s work ethic and skills will translate so well in the coming years.
Who else is eager to see Peter Mueller skate with us for a full season? If he continues to score the way he has for us, he could potentially be our top scorer. Then there’s Chris Stewart, who took a huge step in his development. I’m willing to bet he’ll crack the 30 goals mark next season. We can’t forget about TJ Galiardi, who really took his game to another level in the playoffs. I’d say, besides Anderson, he was the most interesting player on the ice in that series. And Ryan O’Reilly, who wasn’t even supposed to make the squad, amazed me at his progress and his superb decision-making.
There are so many players who did the fans and the team proud this season, it’s difficult to name them all in a single post. This was truly a magical season for the Avs, a historical season. We were facing the loss of our great captain, Joe Sakic. I can guarantee you, when he was up in his box at the Pepsi Center watching the Avs skate to victory continuously throughout the season, he was wishing he could be out there on the ice with the rest of them.
So what’s next? Well, we’ve got the draft coming up. It won’t be quite as exciting as it was last year, when we drafted Duchene 3rd overall, but it’s always an intriguing time of year. Looks like we’ll draft 17th overall, with Montreal’s miraculous victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, so we have the chance to pick up a really great player. As good as our drafting has been of late, I’m excited to examine the possibilities in the coming weeks.