Real hockey is here, folks. Erie’s Alex DeBrincat scored five goals against Niagara Thursday night and he did it without Connor McDavid or Dylan Strome – so he’s got that going for him. A lot of 2015 draft prospects seem to be sticking around for the start of the NHL’s regular season and one of those kids comes up in a question below. If you have a query about prospects and the draft, look me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and include the hashtag #thnfutures. You may see the answer in the coming weeks. Let’s get to the bag.
2014-15 Record: 39-31-12 (90 Pts.)
THN’s Prediction: 7th, Central Division
What To Expect: The Avs sought to get deeper, tougher and better on the blueline, and their major off-season move addressed those needs. In moving Ryan O’Reilly, who was one year away from free agency, Colorado nabbed blue-chip blueliner Nikita Zadorov and towering pivot Mikhail Grigorenko. They polished off the retool by signing Carl Soderberg, who steps in as the No. 2 center, plus depth winger Blake Comeau and veteran D-man Francois Beauchemin as UFAs.
Off-season moves were bold and swift, and youngsters Zadorov and Grigorenko could fit in nicely with Colorado’s young talent. But if playoffs are the goal this season, the summer was a failure. O’Reilly’s departure will be felt at both ends of the rink. He was a possession driver and special teams staple. The Avs don’t come close to replacing one of the game’s most complete forwards by slotting in Soderberg. Read more
Welcome back to my mailbag, where all manner of questions on prospects and the draft are answered. If you have something you want to know about, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and hashtag it #thnfutures. You might see the question here in a couple weeks.
In the meantime, let’s get to the latest round of inquiries, the first of which is very timely:
Earlier in the off-season, photos surfaced of Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon working the drive-thru at Tim Hortons, the famed Canadian coffee shop, in their home province of Nova Scotia. Now, we have the footage.
In a brand new series of advertisements for Tim Hortons, Crosby and MacKinnon take orders, serve up coffee and try and stifle their laughter when a customer mispronounces jalapeno. Suffice to say, they’re probably going to be sticking to sports. Read more
With Tuesday’s announcement that Colorado has locked up Erik Johnson to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension, it’s clear Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has his eyes on building a young, talented defense corps that can compete for years to come. Locking up Johnson was only the first step.
Formidable offensive talents Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are the cornerstone pieces up front and they’ll all be locked up long-term by the off-season. But it’s no secret the area where Colorado has struggled most over the past two seasons is on the defensive side of the puck.
Though the Avalanche have done well to build a group of forwards that can keep pace in the Western Conference, the backend has been a bit of a revolving door. Since the 2013-14 season, the mainstays of the NHL roster have been Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nate Guenin and Nick Holden. The latter two, you may have noticed, aren’t exactly all-stars.
To fill out the roster, the Avalanche have used defensemen such as Andre Benoit, Jan Hejda, Zach Redmond, Cory Sarich, Ryan Wilson and Karl Stollery. The Johnson signing signals a change in mindset, though, as Colorado can now focus on getting some blueliners with big potential to stay in their rotation, which will help the club start building a backend that’s on par with their star offensive talents. Read more
When Colorado and Detroit square off at Denver’s Coors Field for their 2016 Stadium Series game, the Avalanche will be skating out in a jersey never before worn by the franchise.
Unlike previous teams who have taken the ice in “throwback” or “heritage” jerseys for the outdoor contests, the Avalanche will be wearing a first-of-its-kind primary logo and the jersey design will look more modern than anything the club has worn in its 20 years in the Rockies. The new jersey was modelled by captain Gabriel Landeskog at an event Monday.
The new jersey, which is a primarily white sweater with blue, silver and burgundy striping on the sleeves, features the brand new shoulder patch logo that the Avalanche introduced earlier this off-season as the main logo. Read more
Lehner, who is getting set for his first season as a Sabre, went a route not often seen when it comes to mask design. Gone are the flashy, shiny graphics in place of a matte finish and design that incorporates Lehner’s musical taste. Read more
The Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes pulled off a trade Wednesday night, with Brandon Gormley heading to the Avs and Stefan Elliott going the other way to Arizona. Both players are young defensemen who had yet to make definitive marks in the NHL and a change of scenery is not a bad idea.