Are You Ready For Some Hockey?!

Well ladies and gentlemen, the leaves are changing colors in New England, the rainy season has started here in the Pacific Northwest and that could mean only one thing. Hockey season is upon us.

This offseason has seemed longer than normal. I’m not sure if it’s just me or if other people have felt the same way. It could be that I’m particularly excited to see how well all of this offseason’s moves are going to pay off. Even during his time with the Washington Capitals, I was a huge fan of Semyon Varlamov. Right now I’m on the cautiously optimistic side of the fence that this deal is going to pay HUGE dividends for the Avalanche, if there is such a thing.

There’s been no hiding the fact that most of the "experts" out there think Greg Sherman paid way too much for a young, injury prone goalie in Varlamov. There’s also no hiding that those same "experts" believe the first round pick we gave Washington for Varly is going to be a lottery pick. Do I think the Avs are going to be competing for the Stanley Cup? No. At the same time though, I don’t believe they will be fighting the Ottawa Senators or Edmonton Oilers for that first overall pick next summer either. My gut feeling is that this team is going to finish somewhere in the 7th to 11th place neighborhood.

Some of the other moves that are still in the "let’s wait and see" column are the pick ups of Erik Johnson, Chuck Kobasew and Jan Hejda. Avs fans will have to wait and see on Hejda as he will start the season on injured reserve. My gut feeling is though that these will all be very good moves (great in the case of Erik Johnson) for the team. I’m also looking for breakout years from Ryan O’Reilly and T.J. Galiardi. Gabriel Landeskog. Wow. This guy is going to be good.

Join me after the jump for more thoughts and my "bold" predictions.

A new season is just like that fresh sheet of ice waiting for you. So many possibilities are awaiting this team as the NHL season gets underway tonight. Here are some of my predictions for the upcoming season:

Biggest Impact Player:  Peter Mueller.  I cannot overemphasize how excited I am to see "Muells" back in the lineup. I also fully expect him to return to the form that lead to the Coyotes to draft him 8th overall back in 2006. 

Unsung Hero:  Ryan O'Reilly. We, the fans, and the Avalanche organization realize just how special Ryan O'Reilly really is. It just seems to me that he doesn't get as much love from the big boys at ESPN/TSN. This is the year that will all change though.

Player To Watch:  Erik Johnson. I wouldn't say that he necessarily has something to "prove" this season, but there are going to be a lot of eyes on EJ when the puck finally drops on Saturday night. In his first full season in a unipron, I expect him to lead the Avs blue line in scoring and will be in the top 5 in the NHL.

Most Valuable Player:  "Mighty" Matt Duchene. There is no doubt he is going to be a cornerstone in this franchise for a long time. This is going to be the season where Duchene breaks the 90 point mark.

Record At Season's End:  46-29-7 for 99 points and a 7th place finish in the Western Conference

Am I out of my mind? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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