So long, preseason. Hello, real hockey. And if the games on Tuesday night are any indication, the hockey is so, so much better.
With the roster set, let’s get to some predictions. The reality is, they can’t all be good. We all know that lots of things happen over the course of a season, and some of them, you can’t really control. With that in mind, don’t get mad at me over some of the, uh, less than positive ones.
Let’s get to it.
Sadly, I think he’s played his last game in an Avalanche uniform. The off-season surgery didn’t seem to fix the issue, and he’s now dealing with “injuries.” There’s no update on his status, and he’s been placed on LTIR.
We don’t see him play a game in the NHL for a month, because Jussi Parkkila will want to work with him in practice. From there, the team eases him into the backup role, and he does a fine job.
Given the light Avalanche schedule in the first month of the season, he only gets one start, struggles, and spends the majority of the season honing his game with the Colorado Eagles.
Last year was not a fluke. Georgiev does it again, showing he’s a legit starting goaltender in the NHL. The Avalanche even find a way to give him some breaks later in the season, as he gets a few more nights off (let’s say, 57 starts).
Whatever he’s dealt with over the summer continues to linger, and at one point in the season, he’s shut down for a little bit to make sure he’s healthy for the playoffs. The thing is, 80-90% Cale Makar is better than most defensemen in the league, so he still produces at a point-per-game pace.
Toews has another great year, but no contract extension is signed, leaving the Avalanche with a huge question mark heading into next summer.
Girard picks up right where he left off last season, playing well at both ends of the ice, and showing his value when some of the other defensemen miss time.
Doesn’t quite play a full season, but gets pretty darn close, surpassing the 70 game mark for the first time in his career, making everyone feel a little better if Toews doesn’t get extended.
Plays a lot more games than last season, but the Avalanche are careful with how much they play him, giving him nights off to make sure he’s ready to go when the playoffs roll around. His physical presence proves to be very valuable for the blueline.
The decline is real, as the wear and tear of a long NHL career really starts to take its toll on him. As the season goes on, he’s given nights off, and at the deadline, the team goes out and acquires a defenseman to push him to a purely depth role.
The great preseason doesn’t carry over into the regular season, as his defensive deficiencies force the staff to look for other options in a depth role (Ondrej Pavel).
Last year, he was forced to play more than he should have, and he faded as the year went on. This year, in a more defined 4th line role, he’s more consistent throughout the year, even as he gets older.
You’re left wanting a little more at even strength, but on the powerplay, proves to be an incredible addition, notching a career high 12 goals with the extra man.
Fans might still be unsure about him, but he makes it up to them a little bit with his play on the ice, scoring at a point-per-game pace, and allowing the Avalanche to separate MacKinnon and Rantanen.
I’ve already made my big prediction with him – I think he’s scoring 25 goals.
Proves to be exactly what Jared Bednar wants out of his fourth line center. Solid, dependable, and shows he can help the team on the penalty kill.
Like Cogliano, is put in a much better position in a fourth line role, and excels. With Compher gone, takes the lead on the penalty kill, leading the forwards in ice-time.
Everyone wants this to work, and it will…once the staff realizes that the best fit on the other side of the duo is Nichushkin. Drouin has a strong season, scoring 45 points, but still misses some games, playing around 70.
Chaos. Pure chaos. Proves to be a little better on the PK than expected, simply because his size and length create problems for the opposition when pressured…when he’s not in the box himself.
Just two words – Hart Trophy.
This might ruffle some feathers, but with the team using LTIR, they can’t accrue cap space, and at the deadline, seeing as how the staff hasn’t shown a willingness to use him in the playoffs, MacDermid is traded to create flexibility for an additional move.
He doesn’t quite score at the same pace he did last season, but surpasses the 20 goal mark for the second straight year.
He doesn’t score 20 like he did last year, but his creativity proves to be important on the third line, and he assists on a large portion of Colton’s 25 goals.
He doesn’t score 55 again, but gets pretty darn close, putting 48 shots past opposing goalies.