Colorado Avalanche Will Struggle in Central Division


The Colorado Avalanche is part of what is arguably the strongest division in the entire NHL. It features the dynasty of the Chicago Blackhawks, as well as other strong teams, including the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. All seven teams in the division have the goal to make the playoffs next year. So, naturally, the Colorado Avalanche will struggle on their way there.

Over the past weeks, I have done a lot of evaluation of the Avalanche’s current roster and where the team could be headed. I came to the conclusion that the team has a very strong core, but a lot of inexperienced forwards. At the end of the day, the Avalanche will make the playoffs — I am totally convinced of that. That, however, does not mean that they won’t struggle on the way there.

More from Mile High Sticking

The NHL’s new division alignment is a little bit confusing, especially when determining the teams that will take part in the playoffs. Instead of just having the eight best teams from the two even conferences, the league now has one conference of 14 teams and one with 16. The best three teams from each division are automatically qualified, while the other eight or 10 teams, respectively, battle for the two wild card spots.

Unfortunately, the Colorado Avalanche play in a particularly strong division. In the 2014-15 season, both wild card seeds were taken by teams from the Avalanche’s Central Division, while the Pacific Division only saw three teams going into the playoffs. In fact, both wild card teams — the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets — even ended the season with more points than the Pacific’s third seed — the Calgary Flames.

ESPN’s first power ranking for 2015-16 had four of the Central Division teams ranked in the top six and five of them in the top 15. That’s how strong the division is. For the Colorado Avalanche, that simply means that it is even harder to get into the playoffs, since each team plays 29 inner-division games per season.

More from Avalanche News

Even though the Avalanche improved their defense in the 2015 off-season, there are still quite a few questions left. Francois Beauchemin is aging and may regress quickly, while Nikita Zadorov may not be ready for a big role yet. Similar questions remain on offense as well, as Carl Soderberg will have to fill Ryan O’Reilly’s big footsteps and rookies are hoping to step in.

The thing is this: some of those players with question marks will likely blow us away, while others prove that they aren’t ready yet — or anymore, in Beauchemin’s case. It is highly unlikely that we will see all young players taking the exact same developmental path.

That doesn’t mean that we won’t see the Avalanche in the playoffs at the end of the season. However, question marks on the roster don’t make things easier, especially in a division like the Central.

Live Feed

3 reasons the Avalanche won't win the Stanley Cup in 2024
3 reasons the Avalanche won't win the Stanley Cup in 2024 /

Puck Prose

  • Could Flames Goalie Dan Vladar Be A Trade Option for the Avalanche?Flame for Thought
  • Colorado Avalanche sign free agent Tomas Tatar to one year dealPuck Prose
  • The most important player to watch this season for the AvalanchePuck Prose
  • 2023 Central Division Preview Series: Colorado AvalancheBlackout Dallas
  • The Top 5 Centers in the NHL Today Might Not Be Who You ThinkPuck Prose
  • The Blackhawks lost quite a few players, but should still be good enough to easily finish first or second in the Central Division. Behind that, we have the Blues, who will likely take that other spot in the top two. The rest is very much up in the air.

    As opposed to other divisions, which have teams like the Arizona Coyotes, every team in the Central Division expects to fight for a playoff spot. It is special that all of those teams actually have a chance, too. The Wild are still strong, the Jets’ youngstars keep getting better and the Stars acquired Patrick Sharp. Meanwhile, the Predators are still one of the strongest defensive teams league-wide.

    No matter what happens in Colorado, the Avalanche will struggle to make the playoffs, mainly because of the division they play in. Will they make it? I sure hope so. But they will struggle.

    Do you think the Avs will make their way back into the playoffs next season? Let us know in the comments!

    For more Colorado Avalanche coverage, follow us on Twitter @MHSAvalanche and like us on Facebook

    Next: 4 Reasons Why Avs Playoff Hockey Will Return

    Next: Final Thoughts On the Lost Season

    More from Mile High Sticking