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Avalanche Central Division Favorites And Cup Contenders

Avalanche Central Division Favorites And Cup Contenders

The Colorado Avalanche have made it clear this offseason that they are now the team to beat in arguably the toughest division in the NHL, the Central. General manager Joe Sakic has been one of the busiest GM’s in the NHL and his hard work has the Av’s now the favorites in the Central at 3/1.

After qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs just once in the previous seven seasons, the Avalanche have now grabbed the final Western Conference wild card slot the last two seasons. In 2017-18 they took a strong Nashville Predators team to six games in the first round and then this past season they upset the top-seeded Calgary Flames in five games in the opening round and then took the favored San Jose Sharks to seven games before falling 3-2 on the road in San Jose. After replenishing the team’s system of prospects and successfully filtering them into his NHL roster, Sakic has clearly decided the rebuild is over in Denver and based on their rise through the playoffs the last two seasons, his team is ready to contend for not only the division crown but for the top seed in the West and the Stanley Cup again.

Let’s take a look at the key moves of Sakic’s offseason body of work thus far:

  • Drafted top defensive prospect Bowan Byram and signed him to a three-year entry-level contract, giving him a chance to join a blue line that already included young guns like Cale Makar and Samuel Girard.

  • Acquired center Nazem Kadri, defenseman Calle Rosen, and a 2020 third round pick for defenseman Tyson Barrie, forward Alexander Kerfoot and a sixth round pick in 2020.

  • Acquired veteran defenseman Kevin Connaunton and a third round pick in 2020 for forward Carl Soderberg.

  • Signed forward Joonas Donskoi to a four-year deal with an AAV of $3.9 million.

  • Signed forward Colin Wilson to a one-year contract with a $2.6 million cap hit.

  • Signed forward Pierre-Edouard to a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.8 million.

  • Traded for forward Andrei Burakovsky and signed him to a one-year contract with a $3.2 million cap hit.

  • Re-signed forward J.T. Compher to a four-year contract worth $3.5 million per season.

Sakic isn’t done yet either as he still needs to sign arguably his best player and restricted free agent forward Mikko Rantanen, as well as fellow restricted free agent forward Vladislav Kamenov. The great thing for Sakic and the Av’s though is that they still have $16.4 million in cap space. So Sakic can not only lock up those RFA’s but also have some space to use during the season for trades.

The only real question mark now for the Av’s is their goaltending situation as they have handed the reigns over to career back-up goalie Philipp Grubauer after letting longtime starter Semyon Varlamov walk via unrestricted free agency. Again though, Sakic has cap space to play with.

The Av’s are now 5/1 to win the Western Conference and 10/1to win the Stanley Cup.