This is the latest file in THN.com’s ongoing “The Three Important Questions” series – an analysis of the critical questions for every NHL team ahead of the start of the 2022-23 regular season. In today’s dossier, we ask three important questions about the Stanley Cup defender Colorado Avalanche.
Three questions regarding avalanche burning in 2022-2023:
1. Let’s get started – can the Avs win it all again for the second season in a row? Colorado completely defeated its opponents last season, as well as the playoffs. They took second place in the NHL team rankings with a score of 56-19-7, and in the postseason, Colorado lost only four games in four series as they won their second Stanley Cup in franchise history. And while border restrictions have forced them to make major changes, Avalanche still has some of the best talent in the entire league.
For proof, look at the top two lines up front: star quarterback Nathan McKinnon leading the way, with Finnish sharpshooter Mikko Rantanen on one side of him, and top Russian Valery Nikushkin on the other. Avas suffered blows when second-line center Nazim Kadri left for Calgary as an unrestricted free agent, and second winger Andrei Burakowski left as one of the NFL for Seattle. But in mid-September, Colorado replaced Kadri by signing Evan Rodriguez, who scored 19 goals and 43 points in 82 games with Pittsburgh last year.
Rodriguez will have star strikers Gabriel Landskog and Arturi to be on his streak, giving the Colorado a young squad, no older than 27. There are questions about their target — questions we’ll deal with below — but Avalanche still has a front star in MacKinnon and a defender star in Cale Makar. Both of these superstars were the difference makers when counting, so we think Colorado can return to the Cup Final once again and seriously test the best that the Eastern Conference has to offer. So, yes, they can win the championship again.
2. Will changing them in goal fail and cost them a lot of time when the qualifiers arrive? New Avs GM Chris MacFarland and his boss, Joe Sakic, made a major tactical change to the Colorado roster when they allowed #1 Darcy Quimper to leave for Washington as an unrestricted free agent, replacing him with New York Rangers No. Goalkeeper Alexander Georgiev. The avalanche demonstrated their faith in Georgiev by signing a three-year, $10.2 million contract, and the 26-year-old — who has played no more than 34 games in a season in his six-year NHL career, scored 898 savings with Rangers last season – will now be tasked with stopping enough opponent’s shots to allow Colorado’s dynamic attack to win games.
If Georgiev falters, Colorado’s second option is to bring back replacement Pavel Francoz. However, the 32-year-old Francos has only had 57 NHL games in three seasons, and he’s shown in the playoffs that he’s not someone you can use to play 40 or 50 games in the regular season and post-season competitions. The Avs need Georgiev to level up, knowing that it is their insult that will do most of the heavy lifting day and night. If it doesn’t, Colorado may drop in the rankings, and look for a new network administrator.
3. Is the Colorado Defense Corps an underrated component of its success – and will “D” be better this season? With so many incredible talents up front, avalanche defense men sometimes take a back seat, out of the spotlight, in the big picture. But seasoned NHL watchers know better than to underestimate this defense corps, which is one to six of the best groups of defenders on the planet.
Of course, everyone should know by now that Makar is a generational talent who scored an astonishing 28 goals and 86 points in 27 games last season. But the rest of the Colorado “D” members also make notable contributions. The first pair defender Devon Tooys made 44 assists and 57 points in 66 games, which is only 28. D-man duo Samuel Girard wasn’t his best single performance of 2021-22, with 5 goals and 28 points in 67 games, but Avs coach Jared Bednar still had faith in Gerard, giving him an icy 21:38 average time.
Girard’s second partner, 30-year-old Josh Manson, was an important trade deadline pick who would have departed via unrestricted free agency, but he chose to continue, signing a four-year, $18 million contract. fair to him and the team. And in the latter pair, the Avs have 21-year-old Bowen Byram, who has made very good use of 30 regular season games (12 assists and 17 points, while averaging 18:58 from ice time), and cornerstone rival Gribird. . Eric Johnson, then 34, still averaged 17:16 of icy time and made 17 assists and 25 points.
It’s hard to ask for more blueline doing as well as the Colorado did last season, and they have the potential to be even more serious next year. This is one of the many things that should scare off avalanche opponents in 2022-23.