Colorado Avalanche Outsider’s Opinion: Puck Daddy’s Ryan Lambert


The Colorado Avalanche’s roster has changed a lot over the summer. A few players left, some new ones came in, and at Mile High Sticking, every one of our writers has analyzed every move. That is all important, but it should be interesting to see what totally objective hockey writers think about the Avalanche roster overhaul.

More from Mile High Sticking

That is why we will bring a few outsiders’ voices to our site, starting with Puck Daddy columnist Ryan Lambert, who also writes for several other hockey sites. Lambert is responsible for general NHL coverage at the Yahoo! Sports blog, which allows him to look at the Colorado Avalanche from a more objective point of view.

We asked him a series of questions regarding the Avalanche’s off-season. So let’s take a look at what he thinks.

1. The Colorado Avalanche dealt Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and a second-round pick (whose closest relative is A.J. Greer). Did they get a good enough return for a player like O’Reilly?

Ryan Lambert: They got as good a return as they were going to get, certainly. Two NHL-ready players, a guy who probably isn’t going to make it but should stick in the pros for a while, and a second-rounder isn’t bad.

2. With that answer in mind, who do you think will look like the winner of the trade a) after next season and b) five years down the road?

RL: O’Reilly is likely to be a great second-line center option for Buffalo for years to come (even if he might be slightly overpaid). We have no such assurances that this is what Zadorov, Grigorenko, or anyone else in the trade will become, so yeah, I’d rather have the No. 2 center.

3. Mikhail Grigorenko is said to have been rushed into the league, hurting his development. He has also been contemplating a move back to Russia. What do you think he can bring to the Avalanche right now and in the future? 

RL: He’s obviously a high-skill player who was handled bizarrely in Buffalo. Maybe he can rise to the level of his draft position or, if you prefer, potential, but he has a lot of work to do in that regard. A year or two in the AHL might be in the cards here.

4. The Avs signed free agents Francois Beauchemin and Carl Soderberg to play on the top D-pairing and center the second line, respectively. Beauchemin is now 35, and Soderberg has never centered a second NHL line before. Were they the right choices? 

RL: They were the best available choices, which isn’t the same thing. Beauchemin is a signing that’s hard to agree with, because as you say he’s 35. Soderberg is a lot older than most people with similar experience in the NHL and the Avs paid through the nose for him.

5. Many fans and Avs writers are convinced that the team gained some much-needed depth this off-season. Do you agree?

RL: They got deeper, but I don’t think it’s nearly enough to make them competitive. They missed the wild card by nine points, and a divisional playoff spot by 12. These additions don’t nearly make up that kind of ground.

6. Overall, did the Avalanche become a better team over the summer? 

RL: Yes, but again, “better” than where they ended up last year still isn’t very good.

7. If you were the Avalanche’s GM, what would you have done differently this off-season? 

RL: Not given Beauchemin a multi-year deal.

8. Last but not least, where will the Colorado Avalanche finish in the Central Division in 2016?

RL: Well outside the playoffs again.

Thank you very much, Ryan!

Overall, Lambert’s answers were little surprising, yet very interesting.

More from Avalanche News

The additions of Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko have been talked about a lot, ever since the trade was made. It is true that O’Reilly will leave a big hole in the lineup, but the Avalanche have done the best they could to get a decent return. Francois Beauchemin and Carl Soderberg are supposed to take on big roles on the Avs next season, but both carry big question marks as well.

What’s interesting about Lambert’s answers, is the prediction that the team will be better than last season, but still “well outside the playoffs”. In the 2014-15 campaign, the Avalanche missed the playoffs by nine points, which is quite a bit, but really not that much. If the team is good enough to get just three more wins than last year’s 39, they will have six more points, which would have meant three points outside of the playoffs last season.

Three additional wins isn’t that much, but it would be too much to call it “well outside the playoffs again”. However, considering the many question marks this roster currently has, anything is possible. Especially in the tough Central Division, a better Colorado Avalanche team than last year’s can easily miss the playoffs again — by more than just three points.

Again, thanks a lot Ryan Lambert!

Do you agree with Ryan Lambert? Let us know in the comments!

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

Next: Is the Colorado Avalanche Bubble Out?

Next: 4 Reasons Why Playoff Hockey Will Return to Denver in 2016

More from Mile High Sticking