We made it through deadline day and despite expectations heightened by months of Avs management telling fans that they would get younger and faster and that the youngsters would get a chance, little happened. Maybe they meant the team would get younger and faster at some other time and the youngsters would get a chance in the future, it doesn’t really matter. If you feel like you’ve been misled, you’re probably not alone.
We did find out a few things about how the front office thinks and where their priorities and strengths lay. First of all they are very loyal. Apparently most of the effort over the past few days was spent to make someone that’s no longer on the team happy with absolutely no benefit to the organization. Noble. If you remember the speech when Cody McLeod was traded, it was pretty much the same thing. Doing something for someone in the org rather than trying to make a positive change. For better or worse dealing with this philosophy is just part of being a fan.
Instead of railing on how backward and oblivious the Colorado Avalanche are, I’m going to try to take a different path and find a few ways this team may become competitive in spite of who owns it, manages it and executes daily operations. It’s pretty clear that those won’t change so how do we find positives inside this tragically flawed system?
Primum non nocere - First, do no harm. It’s difficult to do much harm when you don’t do anything but temptation was out there in the past week. We could be sitting here with Cody Ceci, Curtis Lazar and the Senators 2017 2nd round pick instead of Matt Duchene right now. With a game against Ottawa tomorrow, wouldn’t that be fun? It’s kind of like feeling lucky you didn’t fall into an open manhole cover in a deserted street at high noon on a cloudless day but I think we all feel a little relief that something horrifying didn’t happen today. There are still plenty of chances to screw up a core trade this summer so it’s a short reprieve but for now it’s not an issue. In the big picture management’s passive philosophy didn’t cause the org to lose any ground.
Although Joe Sakic was not able to accumulate any draft picks without ridiculously unattainable conditions attached, at least he didn’t give any away. Scoff, but that’s a victory. As is stands now the Avs have the usual 7 draft picks this summer with the loss of our 3rd offset by the gain of the Rangers 4th, a difference of a mere 40-50 spots max. All of our picks going forward are intact so with any luck we will be able to keep up with the rest of the NHL in scoring prospects. We’re betting high on our amateur scouting and developmental staffs to produce higher quality with the same quantity as everyone else here. I know there’s not a great track record to go on so far but it could happen.
Although we all wanted to see some of the dead weight with longer term deals out the door, in the back of my mind I knew it was pure hope. Barring a miracle, Comeau, Colborne and Beauchemin will be with us for another year. What is heartening is that there’s a bunch of dead weight that will not. Even though there was no early departure for John Mitchell, Fedor Tyutin, Cody Goloubef and Rene Bourque even the Avs misguided loyalty won’t be enough of a factor to bring them back again. The Avs have a slew of RFAs, 12 to be exact, to choose from and outside of persona non grata Eric Gelinas, I’d be fine with any or all returning.
The Avs have 23 players signed already for next year. I expect 2 definite ELC signings, Nic Meloche and J-C Beaudin, and 2 probables, Will Butcher and Andrei Mironov, and probably a few more including Tyson Jost and perhaps our 1st round pick. I’m more optimistic than most on our RFA retention and say there’s going to be 10 back with the club. Add a few AHL depth signings and the Avs have around 42 or 43 contracts and a couple of decent rosters without buying any garbage NHL free agents.
A setup like this won’t contend for the Stanley or Calder Cups but should be competitive on a nightly basis. Oddly enough with this lineup the Avs will actually be younger and quicker. Addition by subtraction will work and even though it’s a very passive strategy, the end result isn’t far from what they should be striving for. The Avs defense is still a big issue unless the core trade happens so I do think that’s still going to get done around the draft. There’s really no way around it and not doing so just prolongs having a talent pool that’s out of balance.
In a long-term view, what Sakic and the Avs are doing in their clumsy, unassertive way is fixing damage. Hopefully they don’t cause more this summer, but for now they seem to be on the path to catching up with the rest of the NHL. The hard part is that the talent level in the organization has a ceiling of being a borderline playoff team at best, so how do they fix that? Good question. The answer is they probably can’t unfortunately. Someone else might be able to, or current management might add someone that can actively increase the talent relative to the competition but that’s going to require an abandonment of their foolish loyalty and an attention to detail that’s an order of magnitude higher than what they have now. It’s not an issue at present, although it does slow things down somewhat, but it will become one in a few years. One of the organization’s strengths is putting things off so we’re all going to have to wait until that happens and see if changes finally occur.