Needs for the Forward Corps
A team cannot be built on just one type of forward, or even versions of one type of forward. There needs to be balance.
Right now the Avalanche have plenty of speedy forwards with good stick skills. They even have a couple power forwards to chip in on physicality. What they lack, though, is a strong enough two-way presence. They lost that when they traded away Ryan O’Reilly, and Carl Soderberg hasn’t proven an adequate enough replacement, not for the top lines.
Here’s where the draft comes into play and why I hope Colorado can draft Gabriel Vilardi. Future Considerations describes Vilardi as playing “aggressively both when his team does and does not have the puck; often hunting it down and stripping it from his opponent.” That’s some good two-way ability. Vilardi is even a player who might make the team out of training camp, or at least sometime next season.
Colorado can also look to free agency for some help. They should not seek out a veteran, but they might be able to pick up a two-way player for the lower lines.
At first blush — I’ll be doing comprehensive free agency posts later — I like the looks of a couple pending UFAs, center Greg McKegg and winger Gabriel Dumont, both from the Tampa Bay Lightning. McKegg is scouted as an offensive-minded playmaker with some two-way ability. Dumont is scouted as a versatile agitator with good checking qualities.
Both are depth players. Colorado could make low-risk offers to them — meaning not a lot of money nor term. They could help fill in the lower ranks of forwards while the Avs wait for players such as J.C. Beaudin and Julien Nantel to develop.