Sunday, April 25, 2010

What's Next: Colorado Avalanche 2010

For a team who no one expected to do much, they young guns in the Rocky Mountains sure did make a lot of noise early; which helped them in the long-run. Even with a very inexperienced line-up, the Avalanche laid the foundation for the next generation of consistency. This was also the first year since the 1988-89 season that Joe Sakic wasn't in the line-up. The torch has been passed.

One concern will have to be the looming sophomore slump for the likes of Matt Duchene, who led all rookies in scoring they year. While Duchene has all the tools of the future, he could fall victim to the dreaded learning curve, but I think Joe Sacco and the guys who have had to deal with struggles-- like Peter Mueller-- and learn from their shortcomings. Also, the Avs gave to determine the value of Chris Stewart, who had a breakout year. As an RFA, will they be able to give him the money needed to keep him around and not get poached by another team. The question is if he can keep the pace he has and keep leading the team in goals, or at least provide another option for scoring behind Duchene and Peter Statsny.

Craig Anderson was nothing less than stellar for the Avs, though you have to wonder if he slides and mishaps were just fatigue of not playing that much before or a greater problem that could haunt him for the length of his tenure. A decision will need to be made about Peter Budaj as well, whether or not he's worth keeping or if they can call up the likes of Tyler Weiman or Trevor Cann (who struggled in the AHL, but not the Central League) or even going the free agent route for an affordable, reliable back-up who can pick up the slack for Anderson.

Defensively, you can bet that Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei probably won't be back, making room for Kevin Shattenkirk and Wes O'Neill to come up. I wouldn't expect Tom Preissing back, as he'll be bought out-- for those who were wondering if he was still on the roster or not. Brian Fahey may be on the outside looking in, but with a decent year in Lake Erie, it could get him a solid call. While you can think that the Avs will re-sign on more affordable defenseman, don't expect them to go wild to disturb the chemistry they have.

This is a team who had nothing to lose and they looked like they could have been the Sharks, if they didn't crash in the last two games. However, the Avs are another team in line of the Penguins, Capitals, Blackhawks, and Kings, who are in the youth movement business. With a great young crop only looking to grow stronger, the Avs maybe building up their Cup chances prospect by prospect-- which is the exact opposite to how they built their legacy prior.

No comments: