The slow trickle of Colorado Avalanche offseason news has begun, with about one news story hitting a week. With the Golden Knights up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final, that might be picking up real soon, as business around the NHL starts to really get going once the playoffs finish up.
And the people have questions! Alex DeBrincat is apparently on the trade block, and people are wondering what it might cost for the Avalanche to acquire him. What are some realistic expectations for Ben Meyers and Alex Newhook next season? Will all their free agents walk?
Let’s get started…
From Kyle: What would a hypothetical DeBrincat trade look like for you?
Well, this would definitely be hypothetical. For years, DeBrincat has been one of the top scorers in the league, but it didn’t quite go the way Ottawa had hoped in his first year there. That being said, he still scored 27 goals, and did so with the second lowest shooting percentage of his career. It would be reasonable to expect him to bounce back.
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) June 5, 2023
The reason he’s potentially on the block is because he’s not willing to discuss a long-term deal with the Senators at the moment. Should that take him out of the running for the Avalanche as well? Or does the one year cap relief with Landeskog make this more intriguing? He’s basically the opposite type of player as the Captain, but would add another top-flight scorer to the lineup. Would he be my top choice? No, I’d prefer a center, and probably someone with a little more size, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. Goal scorers like that are difficult to find.
As for a potential package, Ottawa gave up the 7th and 39th overall picks last year to get him, in addition to a future third-rounder. One has to imagine it would be costly to acquire him, but with a high qualifying offer ($9 million) and DeBrincat being one year away from unrestricted free agency, it should cost less than what Ottawa paid. I imagine any package starts with Colorado’s first rounder, but Ottawa is looking to improve immediately. Do they ask for a defenseman like Sam Girard? Personally, I’d say no to that, because Girard is locked in long-term, and I’m not moving him unless the Avalanche are getting someone back with term. If Ottawa took a package of Colorado’s first and Alex Newhook, you seriously consider it, but it’s a tricky deal to make. That qualifying offer is quite high, and adding someone who makes more than Landeskog would be difficult to squeeze in.
From Eddie: What would you consider a successful season for guys like Ben Meyers and Alex Newhook?
For Meyers, it’s pretty simple. Establish yourself in a role at the NHL level and show that you can score enough to justify a spot. All of his underlying numbers were solid, but the production just wasn’t there. He can win face-offs, and he can skate, but you just can’t have someone in the lineup who doesn’t produce anything. If the offense comes, I think he’ll be fine.
With Newhook, it’s a little trickier. Were expectations a little high this past season? Perhaps, so maybe it’s time to adjust those expectations. He’s produced around 33 and 30 points in his two NHL seasons, so maybe expecting those numbers doesn’t set anyone up for disappointment. For me, I’m looking for him to lock down a role. He moved around a ton last year, and a young player needs stability. Assuming he’s not dealt, put him in a spot and see if he can succeed there. If he establishes a role on the team, you build from there.
From Luke: Coach Cronin is very highly regarded. How do you reconcile the very high regard in which he is held as a coach with how poorly the Avalanche have been at developing drafted prospects?
It’s a good question. Cronin did a great job with the Eagles, and this past season, got a lot out of very little. But I think it’s fair to say that some of the top prospects the organization has had never developed the way you expected with the Eagles. Shane Bowers and Martin Kaut never took those next steps, but does Cronin take some blame there, or did they just not have it? Oskar Olausson was a healthy scratch a lot down the stretch, which isn’t ideal, but in hindsight, I wonder if an extra year in the OHL would have been best for him. The flip side is that Jean-Luc Foudy really seemed to take off last season. Cronin deserves some credit for that.
One area he really excelled at was getting his hands on a slightly older player and molding them enough to allow them to find a role in the NHL. He did it with Ryan Graves, he did it with Logan O’Connor, and he was credited a lot with Alex Galchenyuk‘s game changing last season. A guy like Sam Malinski apparently chose the Avalanche partly because he knew Cronin could help his game.
Whatever way you look at it, the loss of Cronin is tough for the organization, and they’ll have to find a solid replacement. There’s still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to internal development, but that can’t just be on the head coach. It’s been an issue for years, so it’s hard to put the blame of that at the feet of just the head coach.
From Breanna: What is the biggest concern knowing that Landeskog will not be playing all of next season and how can the team fill that role/position before the season starts?
The biggest blow is obviously missing your best all-around forward. He’s used in every situation, and makes every line better. That doesn’t even take into account his impact off the ice. You don’t just go out and find a replacement for someone like that easily.
As for filling that role, the best thing they could do is take that money and see if they can find a suitable 2C option. That’s not a one-for-one Landeskog replacement, but it’s the best use of the available funds to properly fill out the lineup.
From Luke: With Cronin been hired, should the avs look outside of the organization for a new head coach? Or look to within
Typically, the Avalanche have looked outside of the organization. The only internal AHL hire, I believe, was Joe Sacco, and that was well over a decade ago. In the past, they’ve looked to the NCAA, assistants in the NHL, and the ECHL. It’s possible they look internally with someone like Schneekloth, but could Kevin McDonald, who now runs the Eagles, look to his old organization in St. Louis for a replacement? Anything is possible.
From Brendan: Considering only 1 player has ever come back after missing 2 seasons, is there anything in Landy’s contract that can lower/renegotiate his cap hit if he does come back but can’t get back to top 6fwd level of play? Is that something we might see added to contracts in the future?
No, the Avalanche can’t re-negotiate a contract with Landeskog. All NHL contracts are guaranteed. That’s why you see long-term injury guys like Shea Weber and Marian Hossa get dealt frequently. Everyone knows they aren’t coming back, but teams try to get rid of those contracts if they can, and if you’re a rebuilding team, you can get some assets back for taking on those deals.
From Jackie: At this point do you see every Avs UFA walking with no extensions on the horizon?
Anything is possible, but we’re still a few weeks away from unrestricted free agency. Everyone knows deadlines spur action, and there’s no need to rush a contract. The Avalanche are probably still evaluating all their options, both in free agency and on the trade market, before making any final decisions. I, personally, would be stunned if they let all their free agents walk.
From Anthrax: Does the Cronin hire in Anaheim make a trade for Adam Henrique substantially easier to get done? Because that solves the 2C problem pretty neatly.
From what I’ve heard, Anaheim might try to hold onto Henrique until the deadline, because they feel like that’s when they’ll get the best possible package for him. I like Henrique, and he’d be a short-term fix at 2C, but the appeal of him at the deadline last year was getting him for two playoff runs. He’s slightly less appealing this offseason, but still a solid option.