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Three Early Avalanche Predictions For The 2023-24 Season



Ondrej Pavel Avalanche

Is it too early to make predictions of the 2023-24 season with the Colorado Avalanche? Maybe. After all, making predictions this far out could lead to me looking very wrong.

By the time camp starts, there could be some catastrophic injury we didn’t know about that suddenly impacts the season, or on the flip side, the Avalanche could go out and bring in another player or two to improve the team. There’s still time for the outlook on the season to change.

These may not even be predictions. Maybe I should just call them “gut feelings.” Things I’ve been feeling for a while that I think are going to happen. Yeah, I could be wrong, and I’m sure in a few months, people won’t be afraid to bring this article back up, but that’s how it goes.

So without further ado, let’s get to my three early predictions for the Avalanche.

Ross Colton Scores 25 Goals

Last year, when I was still with DNVR, my boldest prediction was that Artturi Lehkonen was going to score 30 goals. A big part of that was that I knew he was going to be playing with the big guns all year, and that’s exactly how it played out. Well, he probably wouldn’t have hit 30, but a healthy Lehkonen was on pace for 27. Not bad.

This year, I just have a feeling Ross Colton is going to go off.

I’m not even sure this is that bold of a prediction. After all, he’s just one year removed from scoring 22. A bump in ice-time (he’s never averaged more than 13 minutes a game) and some inevitable stints in the top six will lead to his best year. On top of that, I could also see him getting some time on the top powerplay unit occasionally.

Bednar will love Colton’s aggressiveness, and won’t hesitate to use him all over the lineup when the team needs a boost. That will lead to a 25 goal campaign.

The Avalanche Won’t Win The Division, But Will Advance Further In Postseason

I’ve been debating back and forth on whether or not this Avalanche team is better this year than last year. I’m still undecided, if I’m being honest, but when it comes to the regular season, I have the Dallas Stars taking the Central Division crown.

Don’t be mad at me, Avalanche fans.

It’s okay if they don’t win the division though, because I believe this Avalanche team is far better suited to go to battle in late April than the squad they had last year, and that will lead to a longer playoff run.

They’ve added some sandpaper in Colton and Miles Wood, and we know Nikolai Kovalenko is coming. That’s sandpaper that just wasn’t there last year in the bottom six. Even the new guys currently slated for the top six have a history of performing pretty well in the playoffs. Ryan Johansen, in particular, has scored at a significantly higher rate in the playoffs compared to the regular season.

This is not a perfect team, but very few teams, if any, can match their star power. The front office focused on making this team harder to play against, and I believe that will play dividends when the playoffs roll around.

Ondrej Pavel Plays 20 NHL Games

Last year, the Avalanche cycled through what felt like a billion AHL players when injuries hit. Hopefully that won’t happen again this year, but you just never know. When I look at the fourth line for Colorado, as they’re currently constructed, I see a lot of question marks. Some players have the inside track, but nothing should be guaranteed for them.

I think there’s one guy who will earn the trust of the staff early, and that’s Ondrej Pavel.

I’ve been talking about him all summer, because all I’ve heard from people in the know is that the Avalanche really like him. No, you shouldn’t expect a much offense, and they certainly don’t, but he could fill a very specific role for the team.

With the loss of J.T. Compher in free agency, the Avalanche coaching staff lost the forward they trusted the most on the penalty kill. They didn’t replace that at any point in the summer. Penalty killing has been Pavel’s specialty in his hockey career so far. On top of that, his work ethic is off the charts. The man has literally not left Denver since Development Camp ended in early July. He’s been grinding at Family Sports every day for two months. He wants it, and he wants it bad.

I think there’s a pretty clear skill limit with Pavel, but when injuries hit (and they will hit), they’ll want someone they can trust to come up and play on the fourth line. That’s something he can do.

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