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MHH's 2013-14 Avalanche Season Analysis: Part 1 - The Offseason

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For the next two weeks, we're going to break down what we expect from the Avalanche this season. But first, let's take a quick look back at the off-season that, thankfully, is almost over.

How do you feel about the off-season moves, both subtractions and additions? Which one will provide the biggest benefit? Is there something you wish the team had done but didn't?

Earl: I think the Avalanche did about as well as they could have this off season, there wasn't a realistic move out there to acquire what the team truly needs, an elite defenseman. Jones and SOB could have really helped this team, they just didn't, so its nice to be able to trade them rather than buy them out. Getting Tangs back is a win, and hopefully Sarich can be O'Byrne from 2 years ago. The Benoit signing was odd, but it says a few things. First, Elliott isn't ready yet. Second, no one else in the system is either. Third, the D needs to score more, and there needs to be effective D on the power play. I think Tanguay will be the most beneficial, at least at first, but if McKinnon has a rookie year like Duchene he'll surpass him in the end.


Cole: Shane O’Brien is gone? David Jones’s contract is gone? Greg Zanon is gone? That’s a lot of addition by subtraction. Not only did the Avs shed a locker room problem and a bad contract, but they made a statement to the rest of the roster about expectations and professionalism. I think we’ll see a lot less coasting and a ton less "Vegas planning" now that it comes with the very real threat of getting "Feastered."

Tanguay is a nice feel good signing for the fans and he seems like he has a little something left in the tank. I doubt his scoring will increase much, but after scoring 69 points just 3 years ago, I’d say 50-60 points on a line with Stastny and Landeskog is a possibility. Tanguay gives the Avs some good forward depth and, more importantly, he replaces Milan Hejduk’s steady veteran influence on the front end.

Rounding out the Calgary trade is veteran defenseman and former big hitter Cory Sarich. He’s not going to light people up like he used to, but is probably an upgrade over Zanon, despite similar issues with foot speed. Honestly I doubt he will play much unless there are numerous injuries on defence.

It’s probably just a depth signing, but I’m kind of intrigued by Andre Benoit. 3G and 7A over 33 games isn’t a specatcular introduction to the NHL and he’s already 29 years old, but his numbers in the AHL aren’t bad at all. In the 2010-2011 season he scored 11G and 44A in 73GP, much better than Elliott’s AHL numbers.

Without a doubt the team’s most important addition is rookie centerman Nathan MacKinnon (dat rhyme). Admittedly, I haven’t seen a lot of film from Matt Duchene’s OHL career, but from what I have seen, I think MacKinnon looks to be a step ahead as he prepares for training camp. More on this Wednesday.


Sandie: Off-season moves: Before there was Daniel Winnik, there was Alex Tanguay. It should be no surprise to anyone that my favourite thing about the off-season is that he will be back in Avalanche gear this season.

Every season I waited for David Jones to finally get his break out year. Every season I thought, "This is it, this is his year" and it never was. I don’t think the Avs are better without him, but I think that due to the fact that MacKinnon is slotted for opening night left not much room for this man.

I will not miss Shane O’Brien on the ice for the Avalanche. He may have been a "great personality for the players" off ice, but on-ice? I don’t believe he brought much that no other defenseman could bring. He’s another guy that was unbelievable when he tried, but only seemed to put the effort in once in a blue moon. That would not fly with Patrick Roy. It’s best for both parties that he isn’t part of the team. Greg Zanon is gone!? What will the Avs do without the beard? The same thing they did with him on the ice. He was another incredibly frustrating player to watch.

I think the biggest benefit is going to be Tanguay, but not on the scoreboard. His leadership abilities will be relied on heavily this season. I think the scoreboard will be Nathan MacKinnon’s place to shine, and to prove himself.

I wish the Avalanche had gotten a stronger on defense.


Mike: I was surprised with the efficiency that the bottom log jab was dealt with and then the addition of Benoit went completely against that. Clearing out the driftwood to make room for Barrie and Elliott and then signing a guy that will cost them minutes is odd.

I'm a huge David Jones fan, but last season was an abomination. He needed a change in scenery and we needed to not see #54 on the ice. I like Tangs, but it reeks of nepotism and I worry about him riding off into the sunset in a gentle manner and not beast mode. Sarich used to be good but it's hard to tell based on his time in Calgary.

Part of me wished they'd made a decision on Stastny/O'Reilly, in that I wish that they had shipped out Pauly Walnuts for a good return. Not because he isn't one of the best all-around players on this team, but because he deserves better and the roster building with a couple of young scoring centers pushing him isn't doing him any favors.


Steve: I like every subtraction. Jones is not a top six forward on this team, O'Brien can go frustrate Calgary and I'll be happier, Zanon was shocking, and the attempt to waive Hunwick is a good job getting rid of our bottom D cluster.

Which brings us to additions, where we swapped SOB for Sarich (good because Sarich is a free agent sooner) and Jones for Tanguay (an upgrade and also TANGS!), but also added Benoit (balls) which doesn't make any sense to me. I wish they had done more to upgrade the defense but given the reality of our roster spots, there just wasn't a whole lot that COULD be done, unless this is HF boards and every other GM wants everyone else's trash for their stars.

Overall the offseason gets like a C+/B- for me because it's mostly good moves but the team is still broken. Subtractions that simply weren't re-signed? I'm pretty ok with all of them.


Andi: I actually thought the Avs had a pretty good offseason. Our defense still terrifies me - Sarich and Benoit are our typical meh defensemen and certainly aren't going to fix our top pairing problems - but I loved our forward additions. McKinnon is going to be a stud for us for a long time, and Tanguay's still only 33 and has a lot left to offer. Part of me is upset that Hejduk wasn't brought back (especially since we're getting the band back together), but he just didn't fit into our lines anymore. Hopefully he retires, we raise his jersey, and he's back in the front office in a couple years. I'm rather excited that we lost the frustrations of Zanon, O'Brien, Jones, and Kobasew, but I wish we had invited someone like Ron Hainsey to camp to help bolster the blueline. All in all though, I'd give our offseason a solid B.


AJ: The big moves of the off-season were the Tanguay/Jones swap and drafting of MacKinnon. On paper, it's really difficult to tell where the problem with either of these moves lies. The Avs added another reliable playmaker in Tangs and while they downgraded on defense from O'Brien to Sarich, removing the attitude and over the top selfish play that forever tainted O'Brien's better qualities is fine with me. As a personal bonus, I don't have to listen to female Avs fans tell me how much they don't care about him...all the time. Eating salary to be rid of Zanon and at least the attempt to move on from Hunwick showed the Avs are looking to improve regardless of money owed. As for moves not made, I wish the Avs would extend an offer to Ron Hainsey or Tom Gilbert to come in and add proven talent to a blue line that’s still very shaky. I understand the team wants to truly find out what it has in Barrie, Elliott, and Wilson but if we’re gunning for a shot at slipping into the playoffs, I can’t see how passing up Gilbert or Hainsey makes much sense. It wouldn’t be a huge addition, but it makes us just that much tougher to play against.


Cheryl: Shipping out the dead weight on the blueline was a great first step. Bringing in a couple of guys who are improvements was the right direction, but I don't think the guys selected are good enough. On the bright side, it gives the kids a chance. I think (to no one's surprise) Barrie will continue to show that he's a solid top-4 defenseman and may even surprise us with a top-two showing.

Letting go of David Jones was also the right move. As much as I like him, he just wasn't working out in Colorado. I love that Alex Tanguay is back with the team and not for just nostalgia's sake. Tangs has a chip on his shoulder and has said repeatedly that he believes his best hockey is still ahead of him. I'm hoping the synergy of a fast, goal-scoring forward corps will help him realize that goal. The addition of Tangs could prove to be the biggest benefit, but you can't discount the addition by subtraction with Shane O'Brien and Greg "The Beard" Zanon.