The Avalanche have mostly been in status-quo mode this offseason. Francois Giguere really hasn't improved the team and if Joe Sakic doesn't return, the team will actually be taking a big step backward. I thought it might be interesting, though, to take a look at the rest of the NW division - a division that last year had a difference of just 10 points from top to bottom. While the Avs are mostly standing pat, how have our division rivals changed this summer? First up:
The Canucks were last in the division last year, although their record was a respectable 39-33-10. The Canucks scored 213 goals and allowed 215, both lowest in the NW. Roberto Luongo will be back, as will just about everyone on defense (Aaron Miller and Mike Weaver are the two notable UFAs and both are currently unsigned), so I'd expect that low goals-allowed total to remain that way as long as Luongo does not get traded or injured.
Offensively, the Canucks were below average last year and, amazingly, seem to have gotten worse. Out are Markus Naslund (55 pts), Brendan Morrison (25 pts), Trevor Linden (heart and soul). In are Kyle Wellwood (21 pts), Ryan Johnson (18 pts), Darcy Hordichuk (3 pts). Ouch. Do the Sedins have any more brothers in hiding somewhere?
This team seems to be an absolute mess. If not for the absolute fleece-job they pulled on Mike Keenan in Florida, they'd be barely functional. Luongo gives them a fighting chance most nights; imagine what he could do on a team that doesn't stink (*hint hint*). The Canucks are so desperate that they offered Mats Sundin $20 million for two years...and he still said no. Gee, Vancouver, ain't that karma a bitch? The Canucks still have about $16 million in cap room, so you can expect they'll still be making some desperate bids for some of the few remaining names on the market. I don't think it will help.
EDIT: It looks like Pavol Demitra is headed to Vancouver. And no, I don't think it will help.