Ok, now that we're almost a week past July 1, AND I'M SOBERED UP FROM SOME VACATion Y'ALL!
I've taken a look at the avs depth chart and I like what I see.
First off, there is no way that the team could have finished in the bottom 3 for another awesome pick (Barring even worse injuries than they suffered last year). The goaltending is a light year ahead of where it was at the end of the 010' season. Let's face it, even Emery/Giguere combo would have put this team into the 8-12th overall pick.
Varlamov, if he continues to develop like the 'average' goaltender (5-6 years to hit prime), he would be in about his 5th year--he did play 2 years in the KHL, so the level of competition has to be about par with or even better than the AHL. Even if you don't want to count that then he's 3 years in. So I don't think it's unrealistic to say that he should keep up his career sv% and GAA if not improve on it, since he is going into his 4th or 6th year of pro hockey (depending on your POV).
He should be as good or better than Anderson was for the team last year, who had a 3.28gaa and a sub .900 sv%. Yes, I'm really putting myself out there with that statement.
As long as Gigure keeps the oppositon under 3 then he might surpass the immortal Budaj.
Landeskog, 15 goals or so would be good start for him and not unrealistic to hit, as long has he plays on the top 2 lines. Sounds like he won't disappear like Stewart did. To give him the best chance to succeed I would pair him with:
Hedjuk, so long as he hasn't lost a step and stays healthy he's the one guy that makes everyone around him better he'd be a great guy to have Landeskog learn from. And at center: Stastny, these two guys aren't Porter or Winnik or any of the revolving door's worth of 3nd and 4th liners that the avs paired him with to get the team from bad to a full on tank.
Mueller: a wild card, will he be as awesome as he was 2 years ago? he was on the point on the PP and had that mad chemestry with Duchene, oh, and it's a contract year. I'm tempted to put Jones here, but I remember that he and Duchene had a lack of chemistry so I'll go with: Kobasew, He's gritty, does the things that can help Duchene and Mueller get open and he's not that far removed from 20 goal seasons and at 29 he's not on the decline.
Which brings us to Matt Duchene: If he's going to be an elite center this is where he'll make is first leap. 30 goals, 60 assists. oh, and it's a contract year.
I put Jones here with O'Reilly, the start of the 009 season when the two of them played together and O'Reilly was on fire? See if it works, you can juggle the RW's on this team, Hedjuk plays well with Duchene and Jones with Stastny. The other winger? Galaradi, If he's healthy then that's one of the best 3rd lines in the league. TJ has the tallent to score 15-20, Jones 30 and with those two guys O'Reilly could get 15-20 as well.
Porter/Winnik and McClement, That would be a pretty decent 3rd line.
Look at all the guys I didn't even put out there: Lindstrom, Hishon, Olver, Yip, Bordello and McLeod? Those are some pretty good hedges against injury and/or disappointment.
We get a full year of Johnson and see what he can do, especially if they pair him with Quincey -who I'm expecting like 3 goals and 10 assists out of now, no unrealistic expectations--he's purely a defensive grinder in my book now.
or Hejda who I am expecting the same thing now. I think both of those guys will compete and go into the corners and win some battles, monster hits? A few would be nice. Cumiskey and Hunwick, one of these guys will be on the second pairing and the other will be eating Nachos, and by the trading deadline one or both will be gone. It will be fun to see if Hunwick can put his preformance as the worst NHL'er of 2010-11 behind him and put up some numbers like he did in boston. If he can he stays, if he can't he joins Cumiskey on someone elses' roster. Wilson and O'Bryne as the 3rd pairing, I can live with that kind of hitting and they are both decent defenders. The avs last year tried to go with an 'offensive' defenseman and a defensive one on each pairing, Wilson probably would be that guy on this one, but since they won't be run over by bigger forwards, I'm ok with it.
Once again, Gaunce, Halos and the younger defensemen are not out there, that's some fantastic depth to call upon when -Cumiskey and Hunwick fail- er...let's call this one good hedges against injury and/or disapointment as well.
All in all. I like where the Avs sit right now then I do 2 or 3 weeks ago, I'm actually ready to see some hockey. What's today? And do we still go by the same calendar? Damn.