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Avs Fan Confidence Index: The lack of a middle-six winger, depth scoring a cause for concern

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Avs Brandon Saad

It’s been an eventful offseason for the Colorado Avalanche—for better and for worse. The moves—or, perhaps, lack thereof—have been polarizing for much of the Avs fanbase. Many took to Twitter to play armchair GM and air their grievances about the Avs’ offseason.

So I took to Avs Twitter to get a general pulse on things, posing the question: How confident are you in this season’s Avalanche based on their off-season moves? Here’s what some had to say, in what is the first installment of the Avs Fan Confidence Index:

If you log on to Avs Twitter, at times, the general off-season consensus is that this season’s team got much worse. The confidence index ranged from some slight optimism, to (mostly) sky-is-falling pessimism. 

The results of the confidence index poll were about what one might expect. In total, about 59% of those polled voted that the Avs will likely see a dip from last season’s performance, while the other 41% said they’re at least on par, if not better, than last season’s Avalanche squad. 

Let’s take a look at some fans’ reasonings:

 

Many in the comments agreed with Kyle here. The most common answer was that there is no clear replacement for the Avs losses in depth scoring. Here are a few examples:

There were plenty more similar replies, but you get the point. Yes, the loss of Joonas Donskoi and Brandon Saad are, undoubtedly, net losses. Those two alone accounted for about 16% of the team’s total goals last season, and there really wasn’t a clear replacement-move made by GM Joe Sakic.

Betting with the Barbers!

Bringing in Darren Helm should be viewed as a replacement for the departure of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on the fourth line. Helm is, decidedly, no longer a top-six forward.

The losses of Donskoi and Saad, and the lack of their replacements, shows that Sakic is going all-in on Alex Newhook and placing trust in him that he can be a middle-six guy at the ripe age of 20 years old. This is surely a gamble, but it’s one I’m excited to see pan out. Avs fans should be too.

But yes, still, forward depth is pretty thin, and no moves were made to shore that up either, as some were quick to point out.

I’d agree with Adam here that the Avs are one key injury away from being in a bad spot. What I think this means is that guys like Martin Kaut are going to be given every opportunity to make the team this year, in what I’d say is a make-or-break season for Kaut. We might even see an appearance from Shane Bowers here and there.

Mr. Sakic is going all-in on the young guys—likely, in part, because of how affordable they are. He made mention of it during his post-trade deadline press conference back in April that his team had to push the chips in last season because of how tight things were going to be with the cap this offseason (and the necessity to re-sign his star players). He said back in April that this season’s team was going to be young. He wasn’t kidding.

I’d also agree with Andrew here that this will have to be a big year for J.T. Compher. He’ll be entrusted with more minutes and he needs to be willing to step up to the plate. Tyson Jost could even see some second-line minutes. I expect those two to be used interchangeably.

Some are not so sure about those two…

The lack of a middle-six winger and the theoretical drop-off in depth scoring that most are expecting is certainly cause for concern.

But let me remind you, that scoring really has not been an issue for this Colorado Avalanche team. The Avs have been top-10 in goals scored and goals-for per game in each of the last four seasons. Over the last four seasons combined, they’re also top-five in those two categories.

Sure, losing 16% of your goal production from last season may result in a dip in production. But am I concerned about the offense? I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Not yet at least.

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A graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Scott has so far spent the early parts of his young career covering Colorado hockey — from the Avalanche to the Colorado Eagles to the DU Pioneers. His work can be found across sites such as NHL.com, TheAHL.com and SB Nation, among others. Scott currently resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, where he works as a Marketing Executive when he's not writing.

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troian

A bunch of us are far more concerned about the defensive end, and in particular the lack of physicality, and the over reliance on “if x does y then z will be improved” reasoning.

ricoflashback

Agreed. Nonsense talk about Saad and Donskoi easily being replaced. Graves is gone, just beginning the prime of his career, and he’s had great plus/minus numbers. I would have dumped Sammy Girard in a New York Second and Sakic & the Avs will pay for Joe’s decision. E.J. is one more injury away from retirement and you cannot count on him to last even a half a season. Byram has promise but he needs a couple more years to build up his strength and weight. This is a weak, undersized defense that will get pushed around on a nightly basis.… Read more »

Yan Girard

Including the first line, Makar and Girard are the locomotive of the team. The IDENTITY of the Avs is based on SPEED, SKILLS and puck possession. It’s the strength of Avs and that explains his domination in the NHL. You appear to have no idea of the importance at once of Makar and Girard in the game plan of the Avs. These two players excel about SPEED, SKILLS and puck possession. Makar and Girard are weapons. If you get rid them, you give a weapon at another team to beat you like it’s the case with Ryan O’Reilly.

Last edited 2 months ago by Yan Girard
TR

Nice responde, Yan – couldn’t agree with you more.

Joshua Canfield

Nice write-up Scott. Here’s my “far out” prediction for Newhook. So long as he stays healthy, plays consistent 2nd/3rd line minutes, I see him scoring 20-25 goals this season. Out of all of the Avs prospects the last few years, beside Makar, I think he’s progressed better than expected and it ready to be a full time NHLer who produces. I am worried about Compher and Jost as a source of secondary scoring. Watching Compher since the trade and he has flashes of brilliance yet I don’t think hell ever be more than a 3rd or 4th liner. I hope… Read more »

ricoflashback

That’s a lot of goals for really, a rookie. I’m not saying he isn’t capable of that but my biggest concern for Newhook and any younger player (20 years old for Alex) is the physicality of the game. He was knocked out of a couple games in the playoffs and he’s not that big of a player. It takes a while (a couple of years) to acclimate yourself to the grind of the long NHL season (compared to college) and the playoffs. Plus, they’ll fill out their frames and increase their weight & strength. I call Compher “Almost.” He never… Read more »

Yan Girard

Donskoi and Saad aren’t net losses. In the sport of hockey, the reasoning 1+1=2 doesn’t apply. At the next season, when Donskoi and Saad won’t be on the ice, there will be other players to replace them like Newhook, Ranta, Kaut, etc. In last season, Donskoi replaced Kadri on the first unit power play. You can return Kadri or another player all simply in this situation. In the last playoff, Kadri was missing. With the addition of Kadri at center, you can move another player at the wing. In more, probably that Donskoi and Saad have already given their best… Read more »

ricoflashback

You completely miss the defensive side of the equation. Take a look at that 2001 roster with the likes of Bourque, Blake, Foote, Klemm, DeVries, Gusarov, Skoula and Messier on defense. Not one midget among that group. Tough and physical no matter what pairing was on the ice. Who is the new Hedjuk and Tanguay from the Avs to replace Donskoi and Saad? Hope is not a strategy.

Yan Girard

Look the best scorers of the year 2001. I think that’s easy to find the equivalent with Mackinnon, Rantanen, Landeskog, Makar, Burakovsky, etc. At year 2001, you knew that Hejduk, Tanguay and Drury would have a good career after only 2 or 3 seasons in NHL? You are very good! The current defensive is better than year 2001. No defenseman of year 2001 is close with Makar. Don’t forget that if Makar is missing, it’s Girard that takes the pole. The defensive is the strength of the Avs with his first line. Raymond Bourque was 40 years old when he… Read more »

ricoflashback

You know, Jan, after your ridiculous statement that the current Avs defense is better than the 2001 team with HOF’ers Bourque and Blake as well as Footer, the Goose, Klemm and De Vries – – I’m totally convinced that you are hallucinating and out of your mind. Your posts are not only ridiculous but flawed with serious judgment issues. No intelligence based on past performance. Bourque on one leg is better than Sammy Girard. Sammy would have been a 7th defenseman on that team. A team that couldn’t get past the second round and you anoint them as a better… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by ricoflashback
Yan Girard

Your evaluation is only based on “have won Stanley Cup”. What will be your evaluation of the current defensive and the team when the Avs will win Stanley Cup the next year? I believe that you idealize the players that played in the past. I agree that many players of the past have been GREAT but I am able to recognize the elite talent that the Avs has in his team currently and to appreciate the show offered by his IDENTITY.

Brandon Eccles

You used my reply tweet and I had read most of it before I realized it was me, LOL. Now that I have had time to let that comment age, I still stand by it. If the Avs can get solid secondary scoring from the young guys we will be fine.

Also having a healthy EJ will be crucial for toughness and leadership. Lastly, if Kuemper stays healthy I think he will have a vezina type season.

ricoflashback

All the right things said about E.J. and his toughness and leadership. It would have been a different series against Dallas if he was available. As much as I like E.J., I just don’t think his body will hold up in the regular season let alone the playoffs. Maybe rest him more and keep him healthy? Two on, one off? Unconventional, but I’d try anything to have a healthy E.J. available for the playoffs. Heck – continue rehab until the last 10 games of the season as far as I’m concerned. It’s worth a shot. My biggest fear is that… Read more »

Johnathan Heneka

Impossible page to read. Can’t get more than a sentence or two before the page jumps around.

Adrian Dater

Gotta subscribe to get an ad-free experience. Sorry

ricoflashback

Pony up, Johnathan. It’s well worth the investment. Heck, I thought A.D. had a special discount a while back. Maybe he’ll bring it back again. Then, with your subscription, you’re entered into a contest to win a pair of center ice tickets, a limo ride to and from the arena and a steak dinner at Shanahan’s while meeting all the Avs before the game plus the autographed jersey of your favorite Av. Just kidding. The subscription is mandatory if you really want to keep up with the team. Mike Chambers does a nice job in covering the Avalanche for the… Read more »

Adrian Dater

Thank you Rick…Jonathan, if you’re reading this, tell you what I’m gonna do: use the promo code word 5off in the checkout box, and you’ll get five big ones taken off a full-year price. It’ll go from $29.99 to $24.99. Merry Christmas Jonathan, Merrrry Christmas!

Bob Neal

ricoflashback, Perhaps, the first time we’ve disagreed. I think that Mike Chambers keeps things at too high a level of analysis, so it’s good to see the depth of analysis provided by CHN. To Johnathon, where else could you see this on-going entertaining debate being ricoflashback and Yan Girard? I’m still trying to figure out what Yan is smoking since I don’t think that we’ve agreed on anything he’s posted regarding defensive play.

Yan Girard

Poor Bob, you don’t know sport of hockey? I am pleased to help you. Start with the defensive ok? You know the objective of the defensemen? Prevent the opponent to score goals. According to you, if a team controls the puck, the opponent can it score a goal against the team during this time? It’s going well for you so far? If the puck spends less time in the area of a team, is there less chance that the opponent scores a goal against this team? This is the end of the first lesson. I know that makes a lot… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Yan Girard
Bob Neal

Thanks for the education Yan. You should be a hockey analyst on TV or something. Drop me a line when the puck controlling Avalanche defensive unit gets out of the second round of the playoffs.

Yan Girard

A NHL team can counts on the best defensive and can still gets out of the playoffs. A hockey team is a WHOLE (forwards, defensemen, goalie, coaches). Did Avs perform at their potential until now? I do not think so. Learn to MANAGE THE PRESSURE is a step very normal of a process to get success with a young team. I assure you that the Avs has all the tools to win Stanley Cup. Avs must only learn to put all the tools together to perform at their potential level. Then, relax Bob!

Last edited 1 month ago by Yan Girard
dp10

One thing I noticed looking at our roster recently is that the Avs have struggled to draft depth players in recent years. Only 5 or 6 players on the Avs’ NHL roster were “homegrown” talents. The rest were all acquisitions from trades or free agency.

If our draft picks Newhook, Byram Ranta, Kaut, etc can develop into their own and contribute meaningfully on the NHL roster, the Avs will do fine. Absent that we will struggle to get over the hump.

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