Matt Duchene, picked third overall in 2009, had 27 goals and 67 points in 80 games for Colorado last season. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The cooler weather is a wonderful alarm clock for puck fans, waking us up to the coming hockey season. Hope everybody has a great and safe Labor Day weekend. And thanks as always for the never-ending stream of questions. Remember, if you don’t see your question answered here, I may have answered it in The Hockey News magazine, or on THN Radio.
Adam, what is it going to take and when are the Colorado Avalanche going to be back on top, or at least a threatening top competitor again?
Devon Culver, Moose Jaw, Sask.
The Avs are one of the most polarizing teams in the league this season - at least, they were among THN staffers when we were hashing out our pre-season predictions for our Yearbook edition. More than a few guys really liked the moves GM Greg Sherman and the organization made, which is why we picked them to finish ninth in the Western Conference.
I was not one of those guys, though. I think their core of talent remains very young and in need of more experience. And even with the additions of Jan Hejda and Shane O’Brien to their defense corps and Seymon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere to their goaltending crew, I don’t believe their back end can compare with bona fide Stanley Cup contenders.
Some nuance-challenged Avs supporters will read that and interpret it as a nasty judgment on the state of the organization. That would be a serious misinterpretation. Colorado has a wealth of young talent, but we should know by now that most young talent takes many years to develop. The Avs just aren’t there yet.
Adam, what are the odds we ever see another World Cup of Hockey or something similar?
Dusty Sloan, Ashland, Ohio
I can’t give you specific odds, because the likelihood of another World Cup really depends on the route the NHL chooses to take in regard to Olympic participation.
If Gary Bettman and the owners decide not to make NHLers available – and at this stage, it seems like they’d be the only ones to do so, given that players all speak of their desire to continue participating – there’s a much better chance a national, non-IIHF tournament would be organized. We’ll find out soon enough, as the decision will have to be negotiated into the next collective bargaining agreement.
Adam, I just received my 2011 THN Yearbook and Sidney Crosby is on the cover. Well, to start, I'm a big Bruins fan – since ninth grade and I’m 58 now. The Bruins should have made the cover of the Yearbook since they have the Stanley cup this year! What’s the deal?
Roy N. Thomas Jr., New Brighton, Pa.
This is a common question we get around this time of year. And my answer is always the same: The Hockey News doesn’t create just one cover for our Yearbook; we create a number of regionalized covers to appeal to different fan bases.
That said, we don’t make 30 different covers and also don’t send out specific covers to individual households based on their team preferences. The logistics are just too much, unfortunately. But there is a Boston Yearbook cover, and we did celebrate the Bruins' victory on the cover of the issue and on our Year In Photos immediately after they’d beaten the Canucks.
Life isn’t perfect, I know. But thanks for subscribing. Hope you understand.
Dear Adam, been following your articles for little over a year now and with the NHL season approaching, who would be your picks for sleeper teams this year? Every year seems to have one. So again my question to you, Mr. Proteau: which teams have the best chance to rise up from the ashes of pre-season forecasting?
Rory Quinlivan-Hopkins, Toronto
I answered a similar question in a recent edition of the magazine, so you’re going to get basically the same answer. I don’t think, in a time of league-wide parity among teams, there really is such a thing as a dark horse team anymore.
However, if I had to pick one team in each conference, I’d choose Columbus and Toronto. Both need absolutely stellar goaltending to qualify for the post-season, but both franchises have made above-average additions to their roster and both showed enough overall talent in significant stretches last season to give their fans hope they can be more consistent this season.
Hey Adam, with the season just around the corner, who are your "must haves" and "must avoid" players to draft and not draft for fantasy hockey?
Gary Duong, Vancouver
This is another common question I get prior to the start of the season. And I also have a common answer: I’m really not the guy you should be asking. I indulge in fantasy hockey for recreational purposes only, usually by drafting a team in the THN office pool at the start of the season, followed by a couple teams in the playoffs. But I never live to follow those teams, nor do I participate in leagues where you have to trade players throughout the season.
This means that none of you should be taking my picks as some type of guaranteed way to win your pool. If you’re interested in a guy who does this stuff for a living, talk to our fantasy pool expert, Darryl Dobbs.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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