It took four months but the beginning of the NHL season is upon us and the Avs look to end their playoff drought, taking the next step to becoming playoff contenders year in and year out.
Welcome to Avalanche Avenues' season preview of the Avs, the new domain for me, Aaron Musick. For much of the game updates, breaking news and game recaps, you can find me at Hockeybuzz.com while a bunch of the longer term features will be here.
The Avalanche stand on the cusp of becoming a legitimate playoff team, getting back into the Stanley Cup dance.
Boasting a number of young forwards with a speed and grit combination, the Avs look primed to compete with anyone. New captain Gabriel Landeskog leads the Avs into action alongside Matt Duchene and newly-signed P.A. Parenteau, forming a potent scoring line, as long as the players live up to their potential.
Joining them is the Paul Stastny-centered line between Jamie McGinn and $4 million man David Jones. That line was the Avs' best line at the end of last year when the Avs were pushing for the playoffs. Even though the Avs would miss the playoffs, that line would show great chemistry.
Though the Avs are missing Ryan O'Reilly, who is in the KHL while the Avs try to work out a new deal for him, they have depth in the bottom six with the signing of John Mitchell and the presence of Mark Olver. Mitchell will get a chance on the third line between Steve Downie and Milan Hejduk while Olver will man the fourth line with Cody McLeod and, for now, Patrick Bordeleau.
Bordeleau, an enforcer, will start the season with the Avs after fighting (literally) for years in the AHL.
On defense, the Avs are led by former first overall pick Erik Johnson. He leads a defense that is built for stopping pucks instead of scoring them. Shane O'Brien, Jan Hejda, Ryan O'Byrne and Greg Zanon all will do what they can to stop pucks.
Ryan Wilson can be a two-way defenseman when he's playing with confidence. He can make the biggest hits on the roster, the ones that make the fans stand up and cheer.
Matt Hunwick and Tyson Barrie can provide offense but will coach Joe Sacco let them play? Both spent much of their time with the Avs as a healthy scratch.
In goal the Avs have their strength with the young, agile Semyon Varlamov and the cagey veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Avs are coached by Joe Sacco, in his fourth year at the helm with Tim Army and David Quinn serving as his assistants. They will be tasked with getting the Avs back to the playoffs and making them into a true playoff threat.