Under Patrick Roy, the Colorado Avalanche became one of the most exciting teams in the NHL. Can the Avs take the next step? They could be a reasonable bet on the NHL odds for futures.
What Went Wrong Last Season?
Not a lot went wrong for the Avs, who went from dead last in the old Northwest Division in a strike-shortened season to 112 points and winning the Central Division. Roy came in and was instantly a hit with his fiery style. His team always went to battle for him. Nathan McKinnon lived up to the hype as the No. 1 overall pick, winning the Calder as the league's rookie of the year. Meanwhile, Matt Duchene moved into the elite category, which included playing an integral role in Canada's gold-medal winning team. Paul Statsny and Gabriel Landeskog had excellent seasons and even though he got into some hot water off the ice, Semyon Varlamov was very good between the pipes. Roy, being a former goaltender, had an amazing influence on Varlamov and that was one of the main differences on this team. They had been scuffling between the pipes but Varlamov – at times – joined the Vezina conversation. That’s how much he improved.
The Avs were eliminated by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs and that might be the sour taste in their mouth necessary to motivate them to take the next step.
The biggest loss this offseason was Stastny, who signed with the St. Louis Blues. Losing a player of his caliber hurt but the Avs did fill the void. They signed Jarome Iginla from the Boston Bruins and he will provide leadership and grit. He’s a very experienced player and will help the young cast. P.A. Parenteau was traded to Montreal for another veteran in Daniel Briere while Ryan O'Reilly and Tyson Barrie were rewarded with new contracts. The foundation is certainly set in Colorado and with the leadership they have added with Iginla and Briere, the younger guys should flourish during the 2014-15 season.
No one expected anything from the Avalanche last season – especially with a rookie head coach in Roy, but he learned quickly and got this team in line. Even with Stastny gone, the Avs have plenty of scoring and McKinnon could take the next step into becoming a bonafide star, along with Duchene (who might already be a star). If the defense continues to improve and Varlamov has another solid great season, this team could challenge the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings.
If you’re looking for a value NHL pick with a reasonable shot, the Avs would be that. There’s clearly no NHL odds value with the Kings, Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks. The Avs have the makeup to contend for a Western Conference title and with some tough lessons learned last season, they should be better prepared this time around.
NHL Pick: Eliminated in the second round