You wake up tomorrow with mysterious magical GM powers and can bring back one - and only one - former Avalanche player. The only restriction is that the player must still be active in the NHL. Who do you choose to bring back and why?
Thankfully, no one chose to send me into a homicidal rage by choosing Bates Battaglia. Chris Drury got a lot of love here and probably would have been a frontrunner. But, his recent retirement made him ineligible (glad I thought to put that active clause in). With Drury off the boards, many people went with another Chris: Chris Stewart
David from Slovakia, Eurolanche: I would not be surprised if everybody in this roundtable would pick Chris Stewart. He was supposed to be one of our best players in the future, but was shockingly traded. He was the best power forward over the last few years in Colorado and maybe in the whole division too. He was something special, not average like others at his position. A few days ago, I was thinking about David Aebischer - and then he signed try-out with Winnipeg Jets. I know that this is crazy, but I lamented his departure years ago, he should got more time to show up.
Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice: I would bring back Chris Stewart to fill the void that was left by...Chris Stewart. After he was traded the team lacked the type of aggressiveness and skill a power forward like Stewie brought to the table.
Brett Shumway, Mile High Hockey: You mean besides Tom Preissing, right? If we're talking make believe and bringing back a player in their prime, I'd snag Teemu Selanne. If we're conjuring up nostalgia, I'd take Tanguay. But, if we're talking straight up reality and who I'd take right now in today's NHL: Chris GD Stewart thank you very much.
Angélique Murray, Colorado Avalanche Prospects, Mile High Hockey & Chicks Who Give A Puck: Even though I'm okay with the trade after the initial shock, Chris Stewart seemed like a perfect fit for the Colorado Avalanche. Perhaps Gabriel Landeskog will eventually replace Chris Stewart's contributions; yet that could be a few years away and it's important to note that Stewart is still a developing player himself.
Norbert from Austria, Eurolanche: Bringing back a player without giving something up in return, I really would love to get Chris Stewart back. There is still a lack of power forwards on this time and Stewie showed in St. Louis that he just needed just some time to really get back from his injury physically and mentally. I would love to have two guys like Landeskog and Stewie on one team.
Geoff Rosenthal, The Avs Factor: The names Shattenkirk, Liles, Cohen, Laperriere,
and Arnason all immediately come to mind, but the guy I want to see back on the Avalanche is Chris Stewart. The Stewart/Shattenkirk for Johnson/McClement/1st deal is going to be debated for years to come, but there's no question that St. Louis received more bang for their buck from the trade last season. Personally, I have changed my tune since the deal was made, and I think that Erik Johnson and Duncan Siemens are going to be big assets to the Avalanche for many, many years. But if I were to suddenly be bestowed with magical GM powers, I'd want to bring back a guy who is a future 30-goal scorer, plays a physical and nasty game, and isn't afraid to drop the gloves. Imagine being a defenseman and seeing a line of Landeskog, Duchene, and Stewart coming straight at you. RETREAT!!!!!!!!
Andi D, Mile High Hockey: Since I'm still a newcomer to the world of Avalanche hockey, I'm going to limit myself further to players I've seen play for us. With that in mind, even though my heart says Shattenkirk, I think that I would bring back Stewart. Shatty was amazing and will continue to have a great NHL career (one that I will check in on from time to time), but the Avs have made a very decisive effort this offseason to increase the size and grit of our team. As much as I love Shatty, he is not exactly big or mean. The Pacific division would probably eat him alive. Stewart, on the other hand, is a young, proven, top 6 winger that has good chemistry with Stastny and plays bigger than he actually is. He's not afraid to drop the gloves, and even though he can become completely invisible from time to time, when he's on his game, he's an amazing scorer. I would not mind bringing him back at all.
Austin, Avs Chill Zone: It's hard to pass over Chris Stewart in this spot. Yes, there are others who have meant more to the team like John-Michael Liles or Chris Drury (whoops, just retired...), but if you're looking at potential and age, Stewart is the guy who could help the team most going into the future. I know, I know, it's a very cliché choice, but there's a reason that trading him away was so controversial. He brought a special brand of power hockey that you don't see in very many players.
David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: As much as I'd like to bring back Kevin Shattenkirk, the Avalanche are extremely crowded on the blueline right now and still kind of light on top-tier wingers. With that in mind...welcome back to the club Chris Stewart.
The other big asset lost in that trade was Kevin Shattenkirk and many of us mentioned him. But only one writer pulled the trigger on choosing him
Aaron Musick, Hockeybuzz: I imagine most people were saying "Chris Drury" up until recently but I would bring back Kevin Shattenkirk. Stefan Elliott might be the better player and probably will have a slightly better career but Shattenkirk is my pick to bring back. He's got great vision and can pass like very few other players in this league. He's also got the perfect name, a cross between William Shatner and the character he's famous for playing, James T. Kirk. Put all that together and I would bring back Shattenkirk in an instant.
Shattenkirk fared better than another offensive-minded defenseman. Although John-Michael Liles got a few mentions, no one selected him as their first choice. No, not even Cheryl. She went in a completely different direction.
Cheryl Bradley, Mile High Hockey: As soon as I saw this question, I knew the answer would be Alex Tanguay. In addition to having been such a valued member of the team that brought Denver its second Stanley Cup, Tangs has skills the current team could certainly use. He's a top LWer who has experience both in handling the pressure of high expectations and performing in the post-season. Only two of his 14 years in professional hockey have ended without a playoff appearance. Although he struggled in Tampa Bay, Tanguay began producing at a high rate again the following year in Montreal and again last season in Calgary. He averages 62 points per season, with only one year falling below 50 when playing over 50 games. When you look at his stats, his year in Tampa Bay was an anomaly. Clearly, he can still produce offensively, and his veteran leadership would be beneficial in the top two lines, which has an average age of 25. His style of play would complement Paul Stastny, and this would free up rookie Gabriel Landeskog to develop on a lower line where the pressure to perform would not be so great.
Sandie Gauthier, Mile High Hockey: When I first did this I answered Drury, but since then he has announced his retirement. So I sat down and thought about it, Matt Hendricks, John-Michael Liles, Andrew Brunette and Alex Tanguay were all vying for my spot. In the end, I have to give Tangs the nod. Left wing has been one of the Avalanche's weak spot for a few years now. He knows what it takes to win a Cup. He also has experienced struggles, although his were more of an individual basis than team struggle, but he was able to overcome it and rebound nicely in Calgary.
Stephen Crociata, Mile High Sticking and SBNation New York: If I had to bring back one former Avalanche player I would have to go with Alex Tanguay. On a personal side Alex Tanguay was once my favorite player on the Avalanche and I always hoped he would find his way back. On a professional note he still puts up impressive numbers. I choose him over Temmu Selanne due to age.
Tangs and Stewie weren't the only wingers available though.
Mike @ MHH, Mile High Hockey: Flash. We need depth at wing, even blood clot depth.
Sean Payton, Anyone But Detroit: Andrew Brunette. Ok - Full disclosure - my Wild fan wife and I are both huge Bruno fans - in fact, he is still my favorite NHL player - (I decided that shortly after he fired his agent for his comments after Sean Avery came out in support of Marriage Equality this summer) - but I have reasons beyond nostalgia and left -leaning politics. He would no doubt help the Avs on the PP, but more importantly, he would give the team the veteran leadership that is badly missing with the departure of Footer - in fact, I'd slap the "C" on his jersey until someone (looking at you Duchene and Landeskog) earned it.
Mike Chambers, Denver Post: Andrew Brunette. Great around the net, character and leadership.
Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild: If I had the power to bring back one single former Avalanche player it would be Wojtek Wolski. He was motivated, determined, talented and always worked hard... Just kidding. The guy at the top of my list would be Ryan Smyth. Say what you want about Smyth and his two years in Colorado but he is largely a 50-point player. He played all 82 games last season and had 23 goals and 24 assists. The guy is a rock behind the net, uses his body to his advantage, has a great reach and would be an invaluable veteran presence. Andrew Brunette, who could fill essentially the same role, would closely follow Smyth. Then we would have the most dedicated, energy players like Ian Laperriere or Matt Hendricks.
Speaking of Lappy and Hendricks...
Nic Zamora, Avaholics Anonymous: I would bring back Ian Lapierrere. Although he isn't physically active, his career hasn't been deemed done. When we lost Lappy, we lost a lot of heart and a lot of leadership. If we still had him, there wouldn't be a debate as to who should be the next captain of the Avs. Guys like Lappy are a must have for any championship team and I still believe it was a mistake letting him walk.
Matt Muzia, SBN Denver: My original answer was Chris Drury, if only to assuage my still-burning hatred of that trade. Since he retired, I'd love to bring back Ian Laperriere. He was one of my favorite Avs and would still be a good fit on the current roster.
AJ Haefele, Mile High Hockey: Matt Hendricks. After watching a bottom 6 comprised mostly of far too soft players and Cody McLeod's corpse, a guy like Hendricks who brings the thunder night in and night out and makes every shift living hell on the opposition is somebody this team really needs. There's an awful lot of talent already on the team but a questionable amount of heart. Even though a guy like Brad Malone might be able to fill this role someday, we know Matt Hendricks can do it right now.
Derek Bell, Mile High Hockey: Matt Hendricks. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the kind of heart and soul guy every team needs. While I'm glad that he is getting a chance to play in the NHL with the Capitals, I still wish the Avs front office would've signed him to a 2-3 year deal before last season. So with my magical powers, I bring back Matt Hendricks and sign him to a 2 year, $2 million deal.
Finally, I've saved the two most surprising answers for the end (with an honorable mention to the David Aebischer nod above).
Jaye Horbay, Mile High Sticking: A week ago I would have chosen Chris Drury, the only other player besides one Joe Sakic to be one of the most clutch skaters in an Avs uniform. But since that answer is now null and void, I'm going to go with Robyn Regehr, yeah okay he never PLAYED in and Avs uniform, but the team drafted him so I'm counting it. He's an absolute stud on the blue, doesn't put up the big points but he's a constant, calming presence. He'd do wonders for the boys coming down the pipe.
Adrian Dater, Denver Post: It's a good question, and because of all the torture ex-Avs have inflicted on the team after being traded, a very tough one to answer. But this is my answer, and it won't be a popular one to many Avs fans perhaps: Craig Anderson.
My reasoning is has to do with a couple of factors: 1. Anderson is a very good goalie. 2. The team got absolutely nothing for him. The latter factor matters to me because, unlike the trade of Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis, at least the Avs got something back for them. They got Erik Johnson and Duncan Siemens (OK, I'll include Jay McClement too). What did the Avs get for Anderson? Brian Elliott. That's it. I'm not saying Anderson is a saint. He gave off a kind of arrogant vibe a lot, and rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way when he seemed to sulk after losing his firm No. 1 status last year following his return from injury. His numbers weren't very good when he was in net, granted.
But if you had Anderson now, I still think the Avs would have a very, very solid goalie for the next three or four years. They would also retain their No. 1 pick for next year, because they wouldn't have had to trade for Semyon Varlamov in what some might call a desperation move to get a new goalie in here, after Elliott was a total (and predictable) bust, and Peter Budaj's tenure here finally came to a merciful end. Anderson showed he can still play, after the trade. Anybody want to seriously argue with me on that? His numbers with a very bad Sens team in front of him were: 11-5-1, 2.05 GAA and .939 SP. Fact is, the Avs totally have Anderson to thank for getting the Sens ahead of the Avs in the standings late last year, which got them the No. 2 pick. I believe he'll be just as good or better this year. Varlamov? We still have no real idea what he'll be like.
I'll always maintain the belief that the Avs prematurely gave up on Anderson, that they unfairly blamed him for an overall unraveling of the team - exacerbated by injuries - and took it too personally when he turned down a two-year, $7.5 million offer before last season. One of the biggest faults of Avalanche management over the years has been a double standard applied to contract negotiations. When the team plays hardball, it's just business - nothing personal. When the player plays hardball, it's personal, a sign of disloyalty. Can't have it both ways.
Although I'm not sure a lot of others are clamoring for a return of The Sulk between the pipes, Adrian does underscore a too-common theme. How many players mentioned above left because of contract / cap issues? Everyone but Shattenkirk and Stewart? That's too many money-related breakups for my taste. Thank goodness for these magical powers!
Make sure you check back tomorrow as we realign the Western Conference.