Colorado Avalanche Need Depth Over Stars

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have been pretty fiscally responsible when it comes to the players they pay, but as the offseason gets into full swing using some of the room may pay dividends.

The Colorado Avalanche have had the 6 million unspoken internal salary cap for a while now. It forced Paul Statsny to leave (even though I think he’s overpaid in St. Louis), and it created tension in the Ryan O’Reilly saga.

And for the most part I think it’s responsible and a good idea that GM Joe Sakic is smart enough to have a bar he won’t spend above (unless MacKinnon breaks it soon). However recent Stanley Cup champions have shown that fiscal responsibility isn’t everything.

Many people like that Sakic is building a homegrown core slowly, but as he says he wants to compete now he’s not following the blue print of how other teams have been successful. Let’s take a look at some of the past Stanley Cup winners.

Toeing The Salary Cap Line

Yes all successful teams have their stars. But what I’ve noticed is that the good teams are becoming increasingly aware of how much their depth players matter. And I think if the Colorado Avalanche had just one problem, it would be the drop off after their first two lines.

It’s tempting for fans and teams to want to pay it all to the stars to keep them in town, but unfortunately the days of superstars carrying teams are nearly over. Defensive pairings and schemes can diminish the effectiveness of every player in the league, especially with the last change. Which makes having a solid 3rd and 4th line that much more important.

For example, the Blackhawks have 3 true core players: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith. They have many other very good players, but they’re committed to winning as opposed to keeping a happy family together.

We’ve seen the Hawks part with so many players over the years it’s getting hard to remember which great players didn’t have a year in Chicago. Whether it’s Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien, Brandon Saad, Teuvo Teravainen, or Andrew Ladd (pre or post return); the Blackhawks have seen numerous stars come through their arena.

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But they don’t keep them forever and make them part of their core. Many they use for their young years while they are cheap and then trade them while their value is high before the big paydays come.

At the same time in Pittsburgh this year you have Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, Kris Letang (and maybe Phil Kessel as part of the core). But they’re not carrying the team alone as Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Nick Bonino, Trevor Daley (before he was hurt) and then Olli Maatta all played enormous parts in the cup win.

This is something I think the Colorado Avalanche lack. I don’t know if it is intentional or not but Sakic seems to have his scorers and then his checkers. In the league nowadays you can’t have guys who are just out there to hit and be big, everyone needs to be a threat to score.

Every team has a shutdown guy that’s going to be predominately out there against Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. So it’s up to Sakic and Roy to have more then Jack Skille, John Mitchell, Andreas Martinsen, Jesse Winchester, etc to generate chances against the other teams offensive guys.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Mitchell’s two-way play, just as I like Skille’s hustle and Martinsen’s strength. But the Avs a long way off from having Ladd as a depth player.

Next: Sakic Sends Message To Core


The Colorado Avalanche have some great forwards, but unfortunately they also have a sizeable drop off in skill after the top 6. It absolutely kills me when guys like Tomas Fleischmann and David Jones, who were first line players on the Avs, go to playoff teams and are 4th line players.

It will hurt if it means losing one of the young guns, but like it or not, the Avalanche need some consistency from guys not making 6 million a year. And I hope when Sakic goes to offer Barrie a stupid high number this summer he takes a look around the league and sees how other teams are building up in the modern age.