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Avalanche Mailbag: Kyle Dubas, MacFarland, Shopping Manson, and More



Chris MacFarland trade deadline avalanche

Ever since the Colorado Avalanche dropped the news of Gabriel Landeskog missing the entire 2023-24 season, things have been quiet. Real quiet.

So in the meantime, we here at Colorado Hockey Now took some questions that people had about the organization. With the recent firing of Kyle Dubas, some wondered if the Avalanche would check in on him. Is Chris MacFarland’s job safe? What about potentially pursuing one of the biggest villains in the NHL, Corey Perry?

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

From Sanjeev: Is Chris MacFarland safe or would the Avs entertain hiring Kyle Dubas?

We’ll start with MacFarland. Yes, he’s safe. For one, people need to remember back to Joe Sakic’s early tenure and how many people were calling for his head. Some patience is required, and the Avalanche have shown to be a very patient organization.

I also think people are really underestimating how big of a role MacFarland played in the success of the organization over the last 5-6 years. It’s not that much of a coincidence that things started turning around slowly once MacFarland arrived. The analytics department has grown tremendously since he was hired, and was used a lot in the moves that helped the team win the Cup last year. I think it’s mostly known by now, but MacFarland played a huge part in the Duchene trade and the patience the team displayed getting the right deal. He’s earned some rope, and plenty of teams were interested in talking to him for their GM role for a reason.

This is a big offseason for him, but I really don’t think much has changed in the front office, even though Sakic is not technically the GM. The two of them worked very closely before, and they still do. Sakic is still at every game, keeping a close eye on things. MacFarland is safe, but his job isn’t getting any easier with the cap crunch coming.

As for Kyle Dubas, the Avalanche apparently did try to talk to him back in 2017 after the horrific year, but never moved forward with anything. They even disputed it a little bit. Dubas is a very smart guy, but there’s just not room for him anywhere in the front office right now. I think he’d want to go somewhere where he’s got a lot more control. That wouldn’t be the case here.

From BK Wilmore: Is there ANY chance Val is back next season ? I know we don’t know what’s going on – but what does your gut tell you?

Yes, there’s a chance. Next season doesn’t start for another 4+ months. We’re still very early in the offseason, and there’s plenty of time for things to get figured out. Will we ever truly find out the whole story? I have my doubts on that, given how tight-lipped the organization is, but my gut says he’ll be back. Some clarity before the summer would be ideal for the front office.

From Jean: What do you think of Corey Perry with the Avalanche, even if i hate this player?

Let’s be honest – is there anyone who likes Corey Perry, outside of his family, his teammates, and the fans of whatever team he’s on? Probably not many, but that’s how he likes it.

The question is more now – is he any good? He had 19 goals in 2021-22, but dropped off significantly last year. I’m not a big proponent of +/-, but a -28 on a good team kind of sticks out. The next closest person on Tampa Bay was a -10, so that’s a rather large gap. Some of that is likely bad luck, as the team had a very low save percentage with him on the ice. The difference between his actual goals for percentage (39.66%) and his expected goals for percentage (54.86%) is pretty big, so that leads me to believe he’s a little better than his numbers indicate, but his general underlying numbers aren’t anything to write home about.

Still, he wouldn’t be first on my list of guys I’d go after. He’d add some size to the bottom six, but there’s always risk taking on a player who is almost 40. The wheels could completely fall off at any second, so it may be a few years too late at this point.

From Bennett Wheeler: If the Avalanche were to shop Josh Manson. What could they reasonably get?

Based off his last season and his contract, probably not much. It looks like his modified no-trade clause kicks in June 15, 2024, but it’s hard to move a player whose getting older, has had trouble staying healthy, and was very hot and cold when he did play. Manson brings a skillset that the Avalanche really do need, but that contract doesn’t look so great after one year. They signed him to that contract for a reason, because they really liked what he brought to the team, but the cap crunch is real, and business is business. If you can move him over one of the top four defensemen, it’s a no-brainer. I just don’t know how likely that is.

You probably aren’t going to get a lot for him if you do find a way to move him, other than some much needed cap room, but they’d also need to turn around and replace him with someone who has a similar skillset. I selfishly would miss him, because he’s a great in the locker room to talk to, but that doesn’t matter in situations like this (how rude).

From Luke: Which NHL team has the most amount of work (trades, signing, hirings) ahead of them?

Well, the Avalanche are up there. With the Landeskog injury, they have a little over $20 million to work with, but they also have a lot of roster spots to fill with that money.

Boston is one team that has a ton of work to do. There’s a real chance they lose their top two centers, one of which is their Captain, to retirement. They also have to re-sign Jeremy Swayman in net, who will ask for a raise. With just over $6 million in cap space and some big spots to fill (only 14 players signed), they will be busy.

Toronto, obviously, is another one. They need a new GM, and that GM has to decide whether or not they want to move forward with the same core that hasn’t been able to get over the hump. They have seven pending unrestricted free agents up front, and have to re-sign their starting goaltender. With just a hair over $9 million in space to work with, they have some tough decisions to make.

Edmonton has under $6 million to work with, but they’re another team that expected to go further and just didn’t. Most of that $6 million will go to Evan Bouchard as well, so doesn’t leave much room for upgrades.

The reality of the salary cap era is hitting a lot of teams that really went for it and didn’t win anything. At least Edmonton was a little smarter and went out and acquired someone with term as their deadline pickup.

From Glen: There is lots of talk about the need for a 2C, but the Avs also need a 3C. Preferably a scoring one. Who do you see, both internally and externally, as a good fit and who would be your preference?

It really just depends on what happens at 2C. If the team goes out and finds a really good 2C, then it opens you up a bit more with what you can do at 3C. Say, for example, you go get Elias Lindholm as your 2C. That’s a guy who can do everything for you at the center position, playing stellar defense to go with good offensive production. If you get him, you probably feel comfortable with Alex Newhook being your 3C. Internally, the underlying numbers for Ben Meyers are a lot better than the raw production, but you aren’t going into the season with him in your top nine.

There’s not a ton of external candidates at 3C. Sean Monahan is someone, if healthy, they may take a swing at. Same goes for Jonathan Toews. How much either of them cost plays a role in this, but until proven otherwise, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with either at 2C, so a third line role sounds better.

Both spots are important, but the 2C spot dictates what you do at 3C a fair bit.

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