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Founded: 1972 (as the Quebec Nordiques), 1995-present in Colorado
Home Arena: Pepsi Center – Denver, CO., 17,809 capacity
Championships: Stanley Cups: 2, President’s Trophies: 2, Conference titles: 2, Division titles: 9
Owner: Ann Walton Kroenke
General Manager: Joe Sakic
Head Coach: Jared Bednar
Team Captain: Gabriel Landeskog
The offense hasn’t been much of an obstacle for the Colorado Avalanche over the past few seasons. It’s safe to say that the team is simply waiting for the defensive quality of the team to catch up – and that’s happening. Colorado rounded out the top-10 in the league in goals scored, combining to net 258 goals as a team. They were ruthless on the power play, finishing fourth in the league with 63 goals with the man advantage and earning the seventh-overall spot with a 22.03 percent success rate. The also netted nine shorthanded goals last season as well. They finished 11th-overall in shots taken and 13th in shooting percentage. The team’s top-three forwards (Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog) combined for 261 points in 2019.
This offseason, the Av’s were able to add to their already impressive offense. During the draft, they were able to select top prospects Alex Newhook and Alex Beaucage. They were also one of the busier teams this offseason, adding forwards Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Nazem Kadri. This brings in more depth for the team which should increase the team’s point production beyond the top line of MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog.
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The defense in 2019 seemed to be a little back and forth for Colorado. They started the season strong and ended strong but the in-between left something to be desired. Colorado finished in the middle of the pack at 16th-overall when it came to goals allowed. They also topped the league in taking penalties and finished with the third-most power-play goals against. Their penalty killing ranked 25th in the league with only a 78.68 percent success rate. They also allowed the 12th-most shots against.
The offseason saw the Matt Duschene trade finally come to a conclusion. The Colorado Avalanche received a first-round pick from the Ottawa Senators as part of that trade and they used it to select defenseman Bowen Byram fourth-overall. It’s not entirely for certain if Byram will jump right into the NHL next season but the potential is definitely there. The Av’s also added to their blueline with the acquisitions of Kevin Connauton and Calle Rosen. The pairings may shuffle a bit in the first half of the season as Byram may or may not get ice time and Ian Cole continues to recover from hip surgery (a December return is likely). They have a healthy mix of experience, youth, and grit on the backend.
The goaltending tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer found a lot of success last season. The tandem finished 12th in the league in combined save percentage at .907 and had five shutouts. Varlamov went 20-19-9 last season with a .909 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.87. Grubauer went 18-9-5 last season. He finished with a save percentage of .917 and a GAA of 2.64.
Heading into the 2020 season, goaltending seems to be the weak spot for the Colorado Avalanche. Semyon Varlamov opted to sign with the New York Islanders as a free agent during the offseason. Philipp Grubauer is a solid goaltender and had a great first year with the team in 2019 and is expected to be the Av’s number one. But beyond Grubauer, there is little to no NHL experience in Colorado’s potential backups. Pavel Francouz, who many suspect will become Grubauer’s backup, played in only NHL games last season and started neither of them. Beyond that, goalie Hunter Miska seems to be the team’s only option if there’s an injury. Miska has just one NHL game of experience. Further down the depth chart, the goalie prospects just get younger and even more inexperienced.
The potential defensive pairing of Cale Makar and Bowan Byram will be the big thing to watch in Colorado this season. The former 2017 first-round pick made his debut for the Avalanche in the playoffs last year, tallying six points in ten games. This will be his first full season with the team. The potential of pairing him with this year’s fourth-overall pick Bown Byram has fans in Colorado salivating – especially if the two stay healthy and are able to adjust to the NHL’s more physical game.
The Colorado Avalanche are heavily favored this season as their odds to win the Stanley Cup in 2020 sit within the top-ten in the league at +1700. The O/U for their regular-season points total sits at 96.5. They are -250 to make the playoffs this season and +195 to miss.
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