Last year, lots of Avalanche players not named Marek Svatos had breakthrough years. Today, I thought I'd gaze into my magic 8 ball and predict which members of the Avs are most likely to show improvement again in 2010. Of course, this list was originally supposed to include 19 players, but...well, you know.
#5: TJ Galiardi: Galiardi had 39 points last year, with almost half (19) coming in his final 27 games. Galiardi appeared to really come into his own in the playoffs as he seemed to continually get under the skin of the San Jose Sharks. Since the Avalanche slept through free agency this summer, Galiardi is slated to get plenty of prime ice time this year. I think he's capable of 50+ points.
#4: David Jones: Jones was on pace for 35 goals and 70 points when his season was tragically ended early by yet another unfortunate injury. While I don't think Jones will score 70 points, I do think the speedy winger is capable of a 20/45 season. He just needs to stay healthy.
#3 Kyle Cumiskey: The Road Runner had a measly 7 points in 53 career games going into last season. While he improved his offensive output significantly - 20 points in 61 games - he's still got plenty of room to improve offensively. Cumiskey often seemed hesitant with the puck in the offensive zone. Like Galiardi, he appeared to gain confidence as the season wore on and I think he's primed for a big season. No Avalanche defenseman has scored 40 points in the last 3 seasons; Cumiskey has the tools to hit that mark this year.
#2 Peter Mueller: Mueller had 37 points last year, but 20 of those came in 15 games with the Avalanche. Mueller looked every bit like the player the Coyotes thought they were getting when they drafted him 8th overall in the 2006 draft. We've covered the Mueller / Wolski trade extensively here at MHH and while I'm still not sure it's going to end up as a "win" for the Avalanche, I do expect Mueller to improve substantially on those 37 points; he should be able to eclipse his previous career best of 54 points. This is even more attainable now that Rob Blake has retired.
#1 Matt Duchene: This one is an easy call. Duchene showed tremendous poise as a rookie last year, and by the end of last season he was arguably the most consistent forward on the team. With his talent - and no more Darcy Tucker as a linemate - an 80-point season is a definite possibility.
There's my list. How would yours compare?