As the 2015 NHL Draft and Free Agency period approach, I wanted to take a look at and grade everything the Avalanche have done since last year (let’s say since July 1st, 2014). At least all the moves that directly affected the Colorado Avalanche NHL roster. That’s why AHL moves/call ups/minor league signings/etc won’t be discussed. There are probably other moves that have also happened that I’ve missed, so I apologize for that. But let’s take a look at how the Avalanche have fared since last July.*
*Numbers are according to GeneralFanager, war-on-ice, and ownthepuck.blogspot.ca
July 1st 2014: Avalanche Sign Former Winnipeg Jet D Zach Redmond to a 2 year, $1.5 million contract
Zach Redmond (26) is a young, puck moving offensive defensemen who did not get a whole lot of playing time this past year. Whether he deserves it or not I don’t know, but the games that he did play I thought he looked fine. Everything else I could say about him (sometimes out of position, some good shots, great outlet passes) is pretty generic so I’ll stop and say "we need to see more."
Grade - C+
July 1st 2014: Signed D Nick Holden to 3 year, $4.95 million extension
When Holden (28) signed it, the significant raise and time commitment seemed very premature. A year later, it seems pretty dreadful. In the 2013-14 season Nick Holden exploded onto the scene with 25 points (10g/15a) in only 54 games. He was sneakily effective on the power play, and did a fine job overall. However those numbers dropped hugely in 2014-15. He played in twenty-four MORE games, and scored eleven FEWER points, dropping him down to 14 points (5g, 9a) in 78 games. This serves to remind us that prior to 2013, Nick Holden had only played 7 NHL games in five professional seasons. His career high in the AHL was 9 goals. Other than one good season Holden did not have a lot of factors pointing to him being a consistently good player. The plus side is that the fancy stats indicate that Nick Holden is pretty solidly a third pairing guy. If he were signed for less money I’d say he was a decent extension. But at this rate? Not at all.
Grade – D+
July 1st 2014: Signed FA F Jesse Winchester to 2 year, $1.8 million contract
Jesse Winchester (31) missed the entire 2014-15 season with concussion issues, though he was practicing and was close to playing towards the end. I was hopeful when the Avalanche signed him, because in the last couple years I had very passively heard decent things about him, and I figured he couldn’t be worse than Cliché. But, seeing as he didn’t play, I can’t grade him.
Grade – N/A
July 1st 2014: Signed FA F Jarome Iginla to 3 year, $16 million contract
Jarome Iginla (37), is an aging Hall of Famer that came to Denver to play. He is a goal scoring machine, evidenced by the team-leading 29 goals he scored this year playing mostly with Matt Duchene. He is, however, older and slower than most of his teammates on offense, and – as is the case with most of us – he’s only getting older. And $5.3 million a year is a lot of money. I think he’s worth it. He brings a lot of positives to the team, especially leadership and experience. Normally these are qualities I talk a lot of trash on, but that’s only when the people bringing them have nothing else to offer. Iginla is the best of both worlds - great character, great leadership, hard worker, plus goals, assists, and shots. The best of both worlds, just at a little high of a price.
Grade – B-
July 23rd 2014: Signed F Ryan O’Reilly to 2 year, $12 million extension
Ryan O’Reilly (24) was signed coming off a career year with 28 goals, and a season in which he won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. He is a semi-controversial player because of the offer-sheet situation, and how tense contract negotiations seem to go with him. However, Patrick Roy seems to love him, and his line with Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan Mackinnon is a thing of beauty. "Factor" is a great player in all three zones. He scores goals, and plays effectively on both the powerplay and penalty kill. He is a player I want to stay on the Avalanche, despite all the trade rumors. If you want to have a little fun/be very shocked, look at the HFBoards trade suggestions between the Leafs and O’Reilly. Pretty crazy stuff. The Avalanche signed him to a bridge deal, two years, $12 million. That is a great way to say "we respect you enough to pay you real money, but let’s see you keep it up." And so far I think he has. 2015-16 will be the second and final year of that deal, and the big determining factor if he will get paid a lot of money or a heck of a lot of money.
Grade - A
September 4th 2014: Resigned D Tyson Barrie to 2 year, $5.2 million extension
Holy lord does this seem like a good move, and wow is Tyson Barrie (23) a bargain right now. Barrie signed a "show me what you can do" bridge contract, and is exploding onto the scene. He is fast becoming, if not already one of, the big name young stars on this Avalanche team. In 2013-14 he got fans excited with 38 points (13g/25a) in sixty-four games, and he followed up with 53 points (12g, 41a) in eighty games this year. Great young player with rockstar potential, I hope he is an Av for life, and I’m not ruling out a Tyson Barrie stadium series jersey in my closet next year.
Grade – A+
September 29th 2014: Extended F Cody McLeod for 3 years, $4 million
Cody McLeod is another extremely divisive player amongst the Avalanche fanbase, and I think my comments are going to bring a lot of flak my way. Cody McLeod seems to be loved by teammates and many fans alike, but the role he fills is one I think is disappearing rapidly from the NHL. He is an offensively challenged fighter. In 8 NHL seasons he’s gotten above 8 goals only once (in a year in which he scored 20 points). His other career point totals? 18, 13, 12, 12, 11, 9, 8. Cody is curiously lauded for the insane amount of penalty minutes racked up. Penalty minutes usually drag a team down, guys. Do you think is 191 penalty minutes and 12 points last year helped us a whole lot? I don’t. You can only "show your team cares by fighting" so much. But hey, his .138 points per game is better than some players, and people love him, so if you want to keep him around as a 13th forward, or emergency penalty killer (I don’t think he’s skilled enough to be a legitimate penalty killer), that’s fine. But for this kind of money, and considering that on the ice he can be pretty dirty, I do not like the extension.
Grade – D
September 29th 2014: Extended D Brad Stuart for 2 years, $7.2 million
I cannot express to you how sick this deal makes me. Sight unseen the Avalanche extended an old, slow, bad defenseman to GOOD player money. This coming months after the Avalanche traded a 2016 2nd round pick, and a 2017 6th round pick to the Sharks for Stuart (35). He was bad for San Jose, and many people couldn’t believe the Avalanche had traded for him, let alone traded multiple picks for him. And then the management – again, without ever seeing him play a game in an Avs uniform - gave him big money. And he continues to disappoint. No matter how much Patrick Roy lauds him publicly, this deal is atrocious. The trade was atrocious. Brad Stuart hurts the Colorado Avalanche.
Grade – F
March 2nd 2015: Traded AHL D Karl Stollery to San Jose for F Freddie Hamilton
Karl Stollery (27) was a serviceable AHL defenseman who got several brief call ups to the NHL. They rarely lasted more than a couple games, and he did not make a big impression when he came up. That’s not a knock on him, it’s hard to dazzle in brief NHL stints. This trade just seems like two organizations swapping players who did not quite fit their system, or were not developing as desired. Freddie Hamilton (23), is the brother of budding Bruins defensive star Dougie Hamilton, and seems to come from a very "-ie" loving family. Freddie played a limited role with the Avalanche when acquired, but did consistently play with the Avalanche and not Lake Eerie. He registered 1 goal and 0 assists in 17 games in the major league. Again, very limited exposure and a young player, so big picture grade is hard to determine. But for now, I’m a fan of changing things up when they’re not working, especially when you can acquire a younger player, which the Avalanche did in this trade.
Grade – B-
March 2nd 2015: Traded F Max Talbot and F Paul Carey to Boston for F Jordan Caron and a 2016 6th Round pick
This deal made sense to me for a number of reasons. Talbot (31) was getting old and not performing well, while still making decent money ($1.75 mil). Caron (24) filled a similar role in Boston, what I like to call "an invisible checking-forward," but he’s younger, and carried a much smaller cap hit. Including Paul Carey (26) in the trade frees up an extract contract for the Avalanche organization, and they didn’t see him panning out, even though I liked Carey in the limited time I saw him. The Avs receiving a draft pick is good too. Most draft picks don’t amount to anything, but hey – what harm is there to drafting another player that could become a steal? I know, naively positive, but what can I say, I’m an optimist. Seeing Carey leave was a mild twinge of regret, but we saved money, opened up a contract spot, got a little bit younger, and picked up another draft pick, so I’ll call it a win.
Grade – C+
Avalanche Report Card from July 2014-June 2015: C+, D+, B-, A, A+, D, F-, B-, C+. That’s somewhere between a C and a C- average. Hopefully, like its players, the Avalanche are a young organization that will grow and start winning some playoff games. Comment or tweet at me (@honestlyitswill) if you want to talk/dispute any of these. And as always, go Avs.
The 2015 NHL Draft will be June 26-27 at the BB&T Center in Florida.