It has become common knowledge among Avalanche fans that the team lacks a perennial 30-goal scorer. That type of consistency has been gone since the days of Joe Sakic, who actually remains the last 30-goal scorer in Avalanche history, when he played his last full season in 2006-2007. Obviously, teams do not have the ability to pluck Joe Sakic like talents out of the ground, but they can produce 30-goal scorers with relative ease. In fact, the 2012 season featured 30 players with at least 30 snipes, hailing from 20 different teams. The 2013-2014 season shouldn’t be any different.
Any successful franchise consists of depth and firepower. Colorado relies on the former with less emphasis on the latter. This lack of surefire weaponry impedes the franchise from reentering an era of perennial playoff appearances. Cultivating youth still counts as the easiest way by which a team can be a dynasty.
In fact the three dynasties of the past 10 years (the New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins) all developed their young guns into superstars.
Names such as Travis Zajac, Brian Rafalski, Scott Niedermayer, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, and Brian Gionta were all brought up by New Jersey since their rookie years. The same can be said in Hockey Town with regards to Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Niklas Lidström, Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterburg. And of course, Pittsburgh has unnaturally bred talent such as “Le Magnifique” Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, and others.
Suffice it to say, the Avalanche have a ways to go before they become a dynasty like New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Detroit, but they definitely move in the right direction when they decide to rely on homegrown talent such as Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Stefan Elliot, Paul Stastny, and Ryan O’Reilly. While the teams above all had 40-goal scorers, the Avalanche are yet to find one out of their hodgepodge of playmakers, power forwards, and defensemen.
Clearly, Elliot, and Barrie will never reach that 40-goal level on account of their positions. But both of them could settle in as successful 15-goal scorers. Stastny has also proven to management that he can make plays out of nothing, but cannot light the lamp on his own. No worries, his contract expires in 2014 anyhow.
Moving on, Landeskog looks to be your typical power forward, causing mismatches at the net because of his size and physicality, able to produce goals out of less than stellar situations. He could approach the elite 40-snipe level, but he will more likely be seeing no more than 30 scores in 2013-14.
Matt Duchene could definitely hit 30 this year. On one of the least efficient offenses in the NHL last year, he was on pace for 30 goals last year at age 22. Perhaps asking for 30 goals would not be overvaluing Duchene’s ability. Asking O’Reilly or MacKinnon for anything more than 20 goals would be too demanding.
Keep in mind that, for the time being, P.A. Parenteau is able to place the puck in the net 30 times in a season. The surprisingly strong finisher put up 29 in the 2011-12 season, and, by extrapolating his lockout season stats, would have had 31 goals last year.
That leaves this team, known by many a hockey fan to be devoid of scaring, in good position to total 90 goals from three players in 2014.
What do you think Avs fans? Am I forgetting about somebody? Am I overestimating somebody? Could this team make a play for a true sniper? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section.