Preseason is over, and it’s on to the regular season for the Colorado Avalanche.
Yes, some of these questions are a few days old, but they’re still plenty relevant. The craziness of the week with news and practices delayed the mailbag a bit, but I didn’t forget about your questions. I would never do that to you.
One theme that you’ll notice is a general concern over the health of the team. In particular, the health of Cale Makar. Given how last season went, that makes sense, but I don’t know if my answers will make anyone feel better.
So without further ado, let’s get to the mailbag and the questions you all have about the Avalanche.
From Travis: Assuming both were healthy, who would you call up first – Pavel or Foudy?
It’s a difficult question to answer, because Foudy hasn’t been healthy in months, and I’m not even sure he’s going to be healthy to start the season for the Colorado Eagles.
For the sake of the question, I’ll still go with Ondrej Pavel. If someone in the top nine was injured, I’d guess they just move O’Connor up and look to fill his hole with a fourth liner. That’s where Pavel comes in. Maybe my mind is warped because Foudy simply hasn’t been able to show what he can do in camp, but I’ll stick with Pavel.
From Beck: Do you think Drouin’s chemistry with Nate plays a big role in him being on the first line or is he a first line guy no matter what? (Respectfully)
It definitely plays a role. Jonathan Drouin is not a first liner on other teams in the league, and even with the Avalanche, he’ll have to earn that spot. He had a good preseason, but three of his four points came on the powerplay, and we know he won’t be on the top unit when the season starts. He’ll get the opportunity to start with MacKinnon, but will have to continue playing well to keep that spot.
He’s also going to need to start finishing his scoring chances. During the preseason, he had a lot of opportunities to score, but couldn’t bury any. If you’re going to play on the top line, you need to score. The fact that he’s getting those chances is encouraging, though.
From Syndone: If the Avs actually have some forward depth now (I know… too early to say for sure) would it impact Kovalenko joining the Avs in March? Or do you think he is better than a lot of their projected bottom 6? I’m being optimistic the team will be relatively healthy this year.
He’s already agreed to join after his KHL season ends, so I don’t think it will change anything. There’s a lot that can happen over the next six months, but I imagine he’ll play NHL games. Whether or not the team will feel comfortable enough throwing him into playoff games is another question entirely, and one we won’t be able to answer until he gets to North America.
From Brian: Do you think Kiviranta will get a contract?
At this point, we know Joel Kiviranta isn’t with the Avalanche anymore. They’ve given him the option to join Eagles camp, but as of the publishing of this article, he hasn’t made up his mind yet. To be honest, I’m a little surprised it went down this way, but the emergence of Riley Tufte likely played a major role in the decision. One has a contract, and the other doesn’t. That makes the decision a lot easier.
From Joey: I know he returned to practice today, but what’s the level of concern regarding Cale Makar’s injury. Obviously, we don’t want anything that’s going to linger into this season!
From Annalisa: Compared to Landy’s interviews from last year how did Makar’s interview today make you feel?
From Shawn: Health, Health, Health. How’s the health this year?
Cale Makar obviously played in the preseason finale, but looked to be taking it a little easy. There was one shift at the start of the third period where he really cranked it up, going coast to coast and creating a great chance, but other than that, you didn’t see him skate with the puck a ton.
Am I concerned? Yeah, a little bit. When we talked to Makar, he didn’t declare himself 100%, but one line really stuck with me.
“It’s just been kind of a long process, and stuff never really gets worse, but it hasn’t really gotten much better.”
The fact that it hasn’t gotten to 100% after a long summer is a definite concern. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is an issue all season long. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s just what my gut is telling me right now.
As for everyone else, the health of Josh Manson is also a concern. To the best of my recollection, he only missed one training camp practice, and that was planned after playing the night before. Bednar admitted he wasn’t 100% before camp started, and my concern is that this is another thing that kind of lingers into the season. Manson provides something unique to the Avalanche blueline, and he’s someone they need to be healthy this year.
From Robin: Which goalie are we getting, Mr Rawal?
Justus Annunen had a great preseason. I’m really not sure what more he could have done to show he can handle the backup role.
And yet, I still think the team will (and should) find another goalie.
One reason is depth. After Annunen, you have Arvid Holm, who has never played an NHL game before. he’s coming off a strong year in the AHL, but still only finished with a .911 save percentage. Back in the SHL, he never finished higher than .915. They just don’t know what they have in him yet. If Alexandar Georgiev was to get injured, they’d be in real trouble.
But my biggest reasoning, and I don’t know if the Avalanche organization feels the same way, is this – I don’t think you can count on Pavel Francouz anymore. If this was the first time he’d been dealing with an injury, I’d probably be okay waiting things out, but it isn’t. It was the same thing last season. Jared Bednar corrected himself the other day, saying that Francouz isn’t dealing with one injury, but rather “injuries” to his lower body. That’s not good.
In my opinion, the organization should be looking at this as though Francouz isn’t coming back. It stinks, because a healthy Francouz is a dynamite backup goaltender, but I just don’t know how much you can depend on him right now.
As for what goalie they should get, it just depends on the waiver wire. Alex Lyon and Eric Comrie are two that stick out to me, but who knows if their respective teams will risk losing them on waivers.