Colorado Avalanche: NHL Now Discusses Team Future of the Avs

DENVER, CO - APRIL 17: Members of the Colorado Avalanche salute the crowd after the victory against the Calgary Flames in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Flames 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 17: Members of the Colorado Avalanche salute the crowd after the victory against the Calgary Flames in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Flames 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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NHL Now discusses the future of the Colorado Avalanche, Spoiler alert: It’s bright.

The Colorado Avalanche is getting some press after the last couple seasons, and that always makes me nervous. It seems like this inception of the team thrives on the underdog role. And that’s not them anymore.

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The Avs aren’t a dominant team… yet. However, the general consensus is that they’re a team on the rise. And the dominance is only a matter of time.

Recently, NHL Now discussed the Avalanche’s ceiling. Analyst E.J. Hradek sat down with host Jamison Coyle to discuss the team. Again, I’m not always a fan of outsiders discussing the team because they don’t know the ins and outs of the Avs specifically. Anyway, let’s look into some of the positive comments they had for the team.

Hradek starts with praising the top line — but only Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen specifically. He does allude to the fact that the Avs need to sign Rantanen.

Well, Mikko Rantanen is a restricted free agent coming off a entry-level contract. As we well know, he was dominant the last two season, yet he was vastly underpaid. He is the biggest RFA the Avs have to sign. It’s thought he wants both money and term, which is fair. I’m going to guess Colorado offers him term, but at the expense of money.

That said, there’s a rumor floating around that the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators are interested in Rantanen. Well, I say there are 31 teams interested in Rantanen, but only one will see him skating with them next season — the Avalanche.

And if one of those teams decided to offer sheet Mikko? Who cares? Colorado still has ridiculous cap space to match the offer.

Anyway, back to NHL Now. Hradek likes the addition of Nazem Kadri, whom the Avs acquired in the Tyson Barrie trade. As E.J. points out, Kadri had two 30-goal seasons as a second-line center. We here in Avs Nation wouldn’t mind seeing that happen.

Let’s take a moment to talk about line combinations. Now, it’s ridiculous to talk about line combinations in mid July. It’s ridiculous to talk about line combinations in October. Hells, it’s ridiculous to talk about line combinations in February. Jared Bednar has shown he takes a salad spinner approach to lines, and he’ll even change them mid-game. Or mid-shift.

However, NHL Now poses the following line combinations:

Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen

Burakovsky-Kadri-Donskoi

Wilson-Jost-Compher

Nieto-Bellemare-Calvert

I imagine at some point in the season, we’ll see some version of that. However, I doubt new-comer Andre Burakovsy will make the second line regularly over Tyson Jost or J.T. Compher. I don’t know about Joonas Donskoi either. They’ll have to earn their spots same as everyone else not on the top line.

That said, as Hreadek points out, the Avs have built up their secondary scoring. When Matthew Nieto and Matt Calvert have to drop to the fourth line, that’s an improvement for the team’s scoring.

Side note: Get players’ name right. It’s Jost, not Yost. That said, he does mention that Tyson has “the chance to build on the season” and that’s two hockey insiders now who’ve said so.

Anyway, Hradek also had some special words to say about Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, whom the Avs signed in free agency:

"“I love Pierre-Edouard Bellemare coming in as the number-four center there. Terrific guy, been in big games. And big character guy in the room.”"

In all, Hradek sees positives in that group of forwards.

Moving to the defense. Well, the big news for Colorado is the trade of Tyson Barrie, which brought Kadri to the team. I have to say, that loss of Barrie doesn’t feel real yet. It probably won’t until I see him in a Toronto jersey.

As E,J. points out, the main player Colorado has tapped to replace Barrie is the fourth-overall from two years ago, Cale Makar. He was on fire in his 10 games with the Avs. However, as Hradek points out, 2019-20 will be his rookie year.

NHL Now’s breakdown of the defensive pairings is a little wonky:

Johnson-Cole

Girard-Makar

Zadorov-Connauton

I say that because Ian Cole is almost definitely out until December because of surgery on both hips. Johnson also had surgery, on his left shoulder. No word on when, exactly, he’s expected back.

Nonetheless, in addition to the above-mentioned defencsemen, Colorado has Mark Barberio, Calle Rosen, and Ryan Graves as NHL-experienced d-men.

Finally, Hradek addresses the situation in the Colorado Avalanche goal:

"“[Philipp Grubauer] was tremendous in the postseason. Really, down the stretch, he was the guy in goal. The reason that [Semyon] Varlamov became so expendable is because Grubauer just took the net and ran with it.”"

However, as Hradek points out, he needs to put up another memorable year — that’s what all starting goalies must do year after year.

I’d also like to point out that the franchise has three goalies between two teams, so, obviously, they’ll have to pick up or sign at least one more.

Nonetheless, here’s what EJ Hradek thinks of the Colorado Avalanche:

"“This is a team, their future is really, really bright.”"

I think so, too.

Full show:

Next. Promise of Shane Bowers. dark

What do you think, Avs Nation? How do you think next season will go?