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Weekly Watercooler: Curious Avalanche Pre-Season Continues

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Cole and AJ sit down the discuss the absurdity of the Avs pre-season so far, including the re-signings of Brad Stuart and Cody McLeod.

"Look! Another inexplicable contract extension!"
"Look! Another inexplicable contract extension!"
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Not going to waste a lot of time doing any kind of an introduction today. We're just gonna get to the questions, lengthy answers, and hope we all feel better afterwards.

So Cole. The Avs arrogantly and moronically extended Stuart and McLeod in the past couple of hours. Let's devote some time to each guy. Stuart first. I know this bothers you. Explain why.

Cole: There are a lot of things about this deal that bother me AJ. There's the fact that Brad Stuart is already 34 and will be 37 by the time this deal expires (cringe). There's the fact that Stuart wasn't very good in San Jose last year despite playing in a limited role and now the Avalanche are pegging him in a role far too big for his ability. There's the fact that it makes him the 2nd highest paid defender on this team (just $150K short of Erik Johnson). There's even the fact that I think #17 is a stupid number for a defenseman.
But I was willing to set all of that aside on the offchance that Brad Stuart outperforms Jan Hejda, who I feel was a productive player for the Avalanche last season even at the age of 35. I can see the logic behind using Brad Stuart to replace Jan Hejda, fine.

What I can't get past, is the fact that this guy gets an extension before he ever steps on Avalanche ice. It's alarming to think that this front office is sooooo confident in a trade that they'll sign a player whose proven exactly ZERO to a lengthy extension. What's even more alarming is that Sakic and Roy were publicly displeased with Berra's performance early in the preseason, and rather than learn from their mistake of overcommitting to an unproven player.... THEY TURN AROUND AND DO IT AGAIN. There is no possible justification for extending Brad Stuart this far ahead of his contract, none. The guy was not going to play himself up past a $3.6M AAV this season but rather than wait, and acknowledge even the possibility that the they could be wrong, this front office committed too much money and too many years to a guy who hasn't earned it.

I wonder how Ryan O'Reilly feels about that.

AJ: I can't help but agree here. 17 is a ridiculous number for a defenseman. It should be on a power forward or a face puncher. The guys who get paid for shit like "grit, heart, and character" should be wearing 17. Not Brad Stuart. Awful stuff, especially the way he wears it half tucked in in the back so it's always hard to tell who it is. It's like he's trying to hide it.

From a hockey standpoint, I also happen to agree. Big shock, I know. The Avs do something dumb and we both hate it. Ugh. Reading news that we traded for Brad Stuart way on on July 1 was disappointing. The Avs were getting an okay guy in a plan to overextend him beyond his capabilities. Great. Maybe with Hejda still around, it would mitigate the damage. Okay, cool. Whatever. I don't like it but I don't hate it. It's whatever. He's better than Nate Guenin and for a while that was all I cared about. Now we're past that and onto bigger and better. Upon hearing news of the Avs signing this extension before Stuart even got the chance to prove how badly we were about to overextend his abilities, it felt like I was dropped into a field of pinecones and forced to crawl out of it. I hate everything about this. This team's obsession with doing stupid shit is starting to wear really thin with me. Why the hell would we even pay him that much money when we could've waited it out and let his play drop that price tag. WHY DID THIS HAVE TO BE DONE RIGHT NOW? WE KEEP DOING THIS AND IT'S STUPID.

Cole: It's the kind of move that makes you wonder what they'll trade for Brooks Orpik after Erik Johnson walks in free agency.

AJ: I'm just making sad faces over here. Don't mind me. It was a good run, EJ.

Well what about the other big move today in signing Cody McLeod, I'll let you start off there because I know you've got some feelings about it.

AJ: This one is way more conflicting than the Stuart signing because Cody has been here for such a long time and has been around for the franchise's only truly dark period. He showed up for the end of the fun, stayed through all the horseshit, and now just when things are on the upswing, asshole fans like me are ready to be done and move on from him. Luckily, our management isn't interested in making smart choices about how to use the bottom 6 forwards in games and appear perfectly content signing aging or replacement level players to fill roles that are literally the easiest ones to replace year in and year out.

McLeod is an awesome dude in the room, he's a longtime Av, and rewarding guys for being good soldiers is fine. Buy him a fucking watch. Stop rewarding these guys for past performance when their future has such a limited upside. What's McLeod realistically going to give the Avalanche moving forward? Another 100 PIMs? IS THAT REALLY NECESSARY? Would we be UNABLE TO SURVIVE A SEASON if we didn't have a guy specifically designated to sit in the penalty box after trading weak ass body shots with the opposing designated face puncher? It's this old school hockey mentality that Roy and Sakic seem convinced is necessary to win in the playoffs. Instead of getting guys who can actually play hockey at a high level, we're settling for extremely limited talents to play specific roles that arguably don't even help the team.

Cole: I feel pretty similarly about this. The money is whatever, it's fine, but the term is too long for a 4th line guy and his role is way too undefined moving forward.
What's Cody McLeod on this team to do exactly? He's not an offensive catalyst, he's not a defensive shutdown guy, he's not even the primary enforcer anymore. It helps Cody's case that he plays a little bit on the penalty kill (about 1:30 per game) but he's just not contributing a whole lot to this team on the ice. I'm all for intangibles, I think they are important to a hockey team, but you don't put a guy on your roster for intangibles alone. Cody will be fine on the 4th line this season, but at age 30 and with his productivity already waning I'm really displeased that the Avs are committing 4 years to him. Not only is it a bad investment in a players who's stock is falling, but it's a bad sign that this team will continue use the 4th line as filler for only a few minutes a night.

AJ: Exactly! It's crazy to me that the Avs looked at their roster last season, watched the games, and came to the same conclusion everybody else did (possession was a consistent problem) but came to the solution that running out much of the same bottom 6 that was largely responsible for those possession issues and hoping your top 6, which was already top-notch last season, would continue to get better was appropriate. Instead of investing in more talented players, they're doubling down on guys with a proven track record of getting consistently smoked. The McLeod deal is really a problem starting next year when he realistically starts keeping talented younger players from finding NHL ice time. Guys like Henley, Rendulic, and Everberg are exactly the kinds of big bodied, talented young players you'd ideally like to see on that 4th line moving forward. Instead of using that to develop younger players into potentially more impactful roles down the road, you're watching Cody McLeod continue to age with a skillset that wasn't exactly stellar to begin with.

Cole: Yup. I had pretty well accepted, and was even pleased with a 4th line of McLeod - Winchester - Talbot headed into this season. I don't think that Joey Hishon should necessarily displace any of those guys (mostly because of their versatility for the PK) but committing all these years to Bordeleau and McLeod means that this team has no intention of ever using that 4th line the way that the Kings did last year, and that's a shame because they brought in personnel to make that possible in the future.

AJ: We agree on all of this. It feels like a wasted opportunity. There's always something to be said for the known commodity and with McLeod you absolutely know what you're getting night in and night out. Unfortunately, I think the Avs intend on having McLeod play a much larger role on this and future teams than either of us would prefer.

Avs placed Stefan Elliott on waivers today. Assuming he's claimed, let's just get to it. Where did it go wrong for Stefan Elliott?

Cole: Honestly it's so hard to say. It's easy to look at Elliott's camp and preseason and say "Well, he was bad again, looks like he's not cut out for the NHL" but on the other side, there's no denying he has talent and he's been somewhat successful in the NHL before. Elliott had a bad camp and a slow start last year too, before putting up the best season of his AHL career on a pretty thin Monsters team and scoring a goal in his late, late season call up with the Avs.


Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Stefan Elliott is picked up and immediately thrives in another organization. His underlying numbers were respectable during his younger callups but this organization seems unwilling to give him a shot. (Lets not forget that this same coaching staff sent Barrie back to the minors last season). I also wouldn't be surprised to see Elliott fizzle out and never play another NHL game because he has not been good thusfar in preseason.

AJ: You know where it fucking started? Joe Sacco's soul-crushing "training camp" after the lockout. Elliott was coming in mid-season form and looked good to start and magically after two days his game completely abandoned him. Every game you see Elliott flash his talent and you see what makes him a potential impact player at the NHL level. Then you see a few defensive miscues and you see why he's not quite there yet. It's a tough thing, player development. The player has to do plenty of work on his own game to continue improving but it's also the responsibility of the coaching staff to put that player into positions to succeed.

This pre-season alone, Elliott was up and down plenty, but how did the coaching staff try to help him? They paired him with Ryan Wilson, who had just played the night before in the game in Quebec and that was a total nightmare, and then in last night's game against Calgary the team insisted on using Tanguay at the point instead of letting Elliott get ANY PP time at all. Exactly how is a guy with defensive issues but a great offensive game supposed to succeed when he's consistently being put behind the 8 ball by his coaching staff? It's clear the team has no confidence in him and it's submarined his own viewpoint of himself. How is he supposed to play the kind of loose and free hockey that allows his talent to thrive when nobody around him believes in him? As much as Stefan Elliott failed to develop, the Colorado Avalanche organization failed him. I hope he gets claimed and goes on to a successful NHL career somewhere else because it sure as hell isn't happening here.

Speaking of guys this organization is failing... Duncan Siemens is finally getting back in the lineup tomorrow night, but he'll be on the 3rd pairing with Noreau, while Wilson beats him out for the 2nd pairing slot with Zach Redmond and Nate Guenin mans the top pairing.

AJ: I'm watching the same games, practices, and camps as the coaches are and I just don't see what they are seeing. Siemens was damn good in his one appearance so far. I realize the team had already decided to send him down to the AHL, a wise decision, but he might only get two games to play and one of them he's going to be the 3rd pairing? It sucks for him. I get that the team wants to get their NHL guys ready and prepped but wouldn't it have made more sense to play Siemens in Denver last night and then send him to Cleveland for the start of Monsters camp? I don't really get how the team is going about its pre-season this year. Lots of questions based on the weird choices made.

Cole: Last year they made what I thought was a very savvy decision by playing Chris Bigras with Erik Johnson for the majority of the preseason. I think that's a great way to work with and develop your young guys while evaluating them, why neither Bigras nor Siemens have had a taste of that this year is confusing to me. If this guy is going to be a call up, you should give him some experience resembling NHL action now.

The Avs have lost every pre-season game so far. Do you care?

Cole: Not in the slightest. In fact, I won't be surprised if the first game they win is Tuesday night in Calgary with what can only be described as a dumpster fire lineup. Why? Because who knows, maybe guys who feel like they are fighting for their jobs will put forth that little extra sumthin sumthin that gets them over the edge or maybe because preseason is a crapshoot. If you don't believe that? I hope you've already placed your bets on a Toronto Arizona cup final.

AJ: I'm going with "no".

Does Daniel Maggio make this team?

Cole: If Stefan Elliott is claimed off waivers then yes. If not no.

AJ: HOW DO THEY CORRELATE?

Cole: Frees up a contract baby. I dont think the Avs will use one on Maggio if they are so close against the 50 limit, if they lose Elliott.... maybe Roy and Sakic start to feel like two wild and crazy guys and we see Maggio eating nachos/playing 3 minutes a night.

AJ: Oh. Of course. If he makes this team, my faith in these guys running this team takes a pretty serious nosedive. He sucks. Even his "big hit" last night was him running into a guy who was already falling down and then he immediately turned and looked to fight someone. Stupid.

Anyway. Today is stupid. Let's call it good before the Avs do something else questionable.

Cole: Sounds good to me.