The face of the Avalanche is slowly changing.
As Rob Blake and Alex Tanguay move on, Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny move in. While the much-hyped Wolski was fully expected to make this Colorado team, Stastny's emergence has been a pleasant surprise.
Stastny, a second-round pick in 2005 (44th overall) and the son of Hall-of-Famer Peter Stastny was a WCHA all-rookie at the University of Denver. His sophomore season in 2005-06 was even better, as he upped his numbers in every major category.
A fast skater with top-level hockey sense, the younger Stastny took the Avalanche by storm in training camp and seized a job ahead of schedule. Granted, the youngster could wind up being sent to the American League after the ninth game, but if he plays the way he did in camp that will not happen. His upside in the NHL is 75-80 points, but he is a couple of years away from seeing that kind of production. If he plays a full season in the NHL this year, 50 points is not far-fetched.
Wolski had a similar impact last season and this season should reach the 50-point mark Â– or possibly as high as 60. If Stastny sticks beyond the 10-game cutoff point for rookie eligibility, he could put up similar numbers.
Things become a little easier for the two rookies with the knowledge their linemate will be sophomore right winger Marek Svatos. Svatos is coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him garner 32 goals in 61 games. The three of them form a new version of a Â‘Kid Line' in Denver and are bound to create excitement to start the seasonÂ…
Eaves has a career upside of about 70 points and Fisher an upside of around 60-65. Both could reach those numbers this season. Coach Bryan Murray is content to keep Eaves on the top line with stars Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, whereas Fisher will be centering the second line with Daniel Alfredsson on his right wing. It is hard to imagine seeing these lines remaining together for an entire season, but the statement remains the same Â– Eaves and Fisher will play a more prominent roleÂ…
The first line center job in Columbus will go to Mark Hartigan. Yes, Mark Hartigan.
With Sergei Fedorov expected to miss most of October and Gilbert Brule still a little green, Hartigan is slotted to play between Rick Nash and David Vyborny. Hartigan has some offensive talent and could actually put up some good numbers in this role. He may be worth a flyer for a week or two in your rotisserie poolÂ…
Farm Report: Nashville blue-chipper Alexander Radulov was the final cut for the Preds, so look for him to light it up in Milwaukee to start the year. He should make his NHL debut as soon as a top-line winger on the big club goes down with an injury.
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