Last season, every team that didn’t win the Stanley Cup took a look at what the Colorado Avalanche had built, and wondered how they could do the same.
This year, the Avalanche are in the other boat. They’re out, and like most of the league, are taking a look at the final four playoff teams and seeing if there’s anything they can learn from them.
So is there? I think any smart office can find something they can take from these teams. I picked out a few things the Avalanche could certainly pick up on as they are planning their offseason.
Depth, Depth, Depth
Look at the Carolina Hurricanes, for example. They lost Andrei Svechnikov before the playoffs even started, and lost Teuvo Teravainen (who has since returned) in round one to a broken hand. They’ve been forced to use three different goalies in this run. None of that has even mattered. All of the 11 forwards they’ve dressed in the playoffs are averaging over 11 minutes a game. That’s a team that has depth, and trusts it.
The Vegas Golden Knights are four lines deep up front. They’ve dressed 14 forwards during this playoff run, and they haven’t been afraid to play them. That’s what Colorado was lacking come playoff time. Endless injuries took their toll, but even before then, they were heavily dependent on the top six. You need to be able to run four lines in the playoffs to get far.
A lot of people tell me the Avalanche need to go after Sam Bennett this summer. I guess the cap may impact the Panthers, but I’m not sure why they’d deal him, of all players. The biggest reason people want him is because he’s a skilled center who is a total pain to play against. He’s racking up points while getting under the skin of his opponents. Then you have Matthew Tkachuk, who is on an entirely different level. Throw in a guy like Radko Gudas on the blueline, and you can see why the Panthers have been a tough out.
The same goes for the Dallas Stars. We all know Jamie Benn is annoying, but they went out and got Mason Marchment (maybe overpaid) this summer to get under the opponents skin every night. That team plays physical and hard on a nightly basis.
Injuries impacted Colorado’s ability to do that. Josh Manson, who is their nastiest defenseman, was not anywhere close to 100% in the playoffs, and it showed. Gabriel Landeskog won’t be an option next year, and guys like Erik and Jack Johnson might be hitting free agency. Finding some more size and physical play may be necessary this summer to round out the team, on top of adding much needed skill.
Don’t Panic Too Much
The biggest thing I would say – there’s no need to panic. Just look at some of these teams still playing. You never know when you’re going to get over that hump (again).
Dallas has had much of the same core, save for Jason Robertson, for several years. Many of those players are already “aging out” of their prime, but yet, here they are. They’re a perfect example of just never knowing when the window actually closes. Some players getting older doesn’t mean they’re going to become useless.
Carolina has relied on much of the same players at important positions as well, with some tweaks here and there. Vegas missed the playoffs last year, but we all know injuries played a huge role in that. Now, they’re healthy and rolling. Just a month ago, when Florida was down 3-1 to Boston, people were wondering if it’s time for the Panthers to think about moving Alex Barkov. They went out and got Tkachuk over the summer, but had to give up some top talent to get him. It’s paid off.
You can fill in holes here and there, but it’s very difficult to find elite talent. The Avalanche have that already. They’ve got some holes to fill around those guys, but the most difficult part is already done.
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