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Mile High Hockey Roundtable: Reflecting on the Offseason

How do the MHH writers feel about the offseason

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Going forward, we are going to be bringing you a new Mile High Hockey Round Table. Each week, different MHH writers are going to discuss a number of topics about the team and the hockey world in general. Give it a read and feel free to answer any of the questions yourself down below. I would like to thank the group that participated in this first MHHRT.

Has this offseason been harder given that the team is coming off of a historically bad year?

Steph: The offseason is always tough for me to spend much mental energy on, and the break from several months of hockey is welcome at first. Somehow this year is a little different. It’s honestly been easier to follow. Maybe because they aren’t making painfully dumb decisions like past summers. Maybe because it’s been mathematically the offseason for ages already, so the adjustment was easy.

Blaise: This offseason has been quite a bit slower than one would expect seeing how the Avs ended with the worst record in the NHL since the 2000 Atlanta Thrashers. Despite the rough season, though, I personally was not expecting too many moves. The Avs had historically had slow offseasons and let things run their course, so it has gone exactly as expected.

Rudo: Expectations for this offseason were at an all time low for me. The fact that we have come this far without any major disappointments has left me content. With it being a slower offseason, it has left a lot of time to reflect and pick apart every little detail of the horrible season, but through all that, there also comes glimmers of hope. Addition by subtraction was a major factor this offseason creating room for exciting young players going forward.

Adam: Yes and no. These past few offseasons, I had always been optimistic that the Avs could somehow snag a wild card spot in the coming season. We had always had a marquee signing or a trade that our fanbase overhyped. This offseason, while still ripe with overhyping, doesn’t really have that optimism. We have all pretty much accepted that a playoff appearance this season is not happening. With that in mind, those big offseason acquisitions from season’s past have turned out generally bad. It has been refreshing to see our front office not force improvement and employ smart, low-risk moves to keep our future bright rather than handing out massive contracts to the league’s elderly statesmen.

Jackie: After the previous offseason which included such joys as the Tyson Barrie arbitration hearing and Patrick Roy quitting weeks before training camp, a quieter offseason is welcomed. If anything there is more anxiousness to begin the season to put the previous year behind us and to see the execution of the "youth movement" plan.

How do you feel about the way the offseason has played out?

Steph: Not bad. It was a surprise to me that they actually bought Beauchemin out. I did not expect them to actually do it. There’s so much angst in the fanbase about not doing more to change the roster, but frankly, there were few moves the Avs could realistically make that would help them now without pushing the future farther off. Don’t forget Rene Bourque, Grigorenko, Iginla, Martinsen, McLeod, Mitchell, Smith, Beauchemin, Gelinas, Tyutin, and Weircioch are all names from the beginning of last year that have left the roster. It’s not sexy, and they won’t get a lot better in a hurry playing prospects instead. But there was a lot of subtraction to be done to make them even watchable and I think the team did it. I’m frustrated the Duchene deal is still a thing though. I’m sick of it just like everyone else. Just get it done already.

Blaise: Things honestly can not get much worse. The Avs signed some interesting additions in Nail Yakupov and Andrei Mironov, among others. Shedding the fat around the edges of the team, including some of the guys Steph has mentioned above, makes room for more young players we have in the pipeline. With a completely new assistant coaching staff at the helm of the Avs, it will be great to see if these changes pay off.

Rudo: While many fans are disappointed in how much damage Sakic’s learning curve has done, it is clear that he has learned something from his moves this offseason. No ageing vets signed, the youth movement appears to be in full swing, and he hasn’t loaded up on any risky long term contracts. While the situation is far from ideal, you have to start somewhere to move in the right direction.

Adam: As I mentioned above, pretty good. The additions of Yakupov, Wilson, and some of our prospects into our lineup will hopefully make for a speedier, more exciting on-ice performance. Losing some of our dead weight on defense as well as Army and Farrish also bode well for this coming season. I also liked how we effectively upgraded our backup goalie situation, swapping Calvin Pickard out for Jonathan Bernier. This will especially come in handy when Varly suffers his seemingly annual long-term injury. It wasn’t all good though. We were unable to find a trading partner for Matt Duchene, and consequently, were not able to bolster our D-core in the immediate future (although we did address this in the draft). Hopefully the inevitable Duchene trade rumours won’t affect his play (and lower his trade value).

Jackie: I never bought into the mainstream media's premonition of a full scale scorched earth tear down and rebuild. The lack of major franchise altering moves is pretty much par for the course and somewhat expected. It is disappointing not to see anyone held accountable for the implosion which was last season, however. If anything I was hoping this would be the year to finally shake up the front office and move out some of the legacy executives.

Is there anything the team has done that has surprised you this summer, either pleasantly or negatively?

Steph: I was pleasantly surprised they took a short flier on Nail Yakupov. When he became available I joked immediately that the Avs should pick him up, but never did I expect them to actually go and do it, especially for so little. Negatively that Duchene is still here, but trades are always a two-way street. Is it better for people to complain that you’re not moving fast enough for a while, or to be eviscerated forever because you got a poor return for a #1 center? Oh, and letting Grigorenko go was unexpected too, but more in a neutral way. Usually, the Avs don’t just cut bait with NHL RFAs, whether they’re very good there or not.

Blaise: I’m disappointed the front office has not been able to work something out with Nikita Zadorov yet. There were rumors of him defecting to the KHL, and while those rumors can generally be disregarded now, it is still worrying that the process has taken so long. Both parties have agreed on a 2 bridge deal and money is the factor causing the hold up. With plenty of room in the salary cap for the next 2 years, the historically stingy front office is in the spotlight now as fans are becoming restless when it comes to an important piece of the defensive core moving forward.

Rudo: I was quite happy with the 2 new players that the Avs brought in. The Yakupov option seems to be a perfect fit for the Avs this coming season as both he and the team have nothing to lose. If Yakupov finds his game he is found money, if he doesn’t no harm no foul and we can move on without him. Wilson is going to bring a hard working veteran presence to a middle six that is loaded with young talent. The hope is that he can function as a mentor for the younger guys while still being young enough to not be an anchor.

Adam: I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of a big contract given to an older veteran. Since Patrick Roy’s departure, many moves by the Avs have gone in line with a possession- and speed-first philosophy which is essential in today’s NHL. This was not the case when Roy had an influence in our hockey ops.

Jackie: It was a bit surprising to see the move of a draft pick to bring in Colin Wilson who figures to impact the short term roster, especially after the organization went over an entire year without bringing in one solitary extra draft pick. Old habits die hard, I guess. In the same vein, it has been a pleasant surprise to see them stay away from filling the roster with depth plugs and immovable veterans. However, it is a long way to opening night in October and as already stated, old habits die hard.

How would you handle the Duchene situation as training camp approaches?

Steph: Insider information: Rudo wrote his answer to this question before I did, and I agree with it. You can’t hold out for this long (publicly) and get owned in an eventual deal. You can’t NOT move him either... but you absolutely can’t get unfair value.

Blaise: As much as fans would like to believe that if a deal isn’t made before the season starts to send him elsewhere, Duchene is going to play with a chip on his shoulder to prove everyone wrong, I highly doubt it. His heart is not in Colorado anymore and as much as I personally wanted him to succeed here, the writing is on the wall. His value is only going to get lower over the course of next season. Sure, waiting for a better deal to show up on Mr. Sakic’s doorstep seems like the right move, he may have waited a bit too long to send Duchene packing for maximum return value.

Rudo: Sakic is in too deep now, he is committed to standing pat on his offer and working out a deal on his terms. Getting a sub par return for Duchene at this point would be nothing less than critical failure. With that said he could do a better job being open with what’s going on. The rumor mill has been entirely out of control for far too long.

Adam: There is not much to be done now. If a trade materializes in this time frame that meets Sakic’s demands (which should not be lowered), then a trade should happen. If not, the only course of action would be to wait and hope that Duchene’s play and trade value improves. If he continues to play poorly, then Sakic will have to reflect on what he’s asking. Until then, he must stay the course.

Jackie: It is tough to say without knowing the exact offers on where the disconnect lies. If the popular assumption is true that Sakic is inflexible and demanding then I would like to see the possibilities of a return opened up to include more futures in top prospects and high draft picks or young forwards than hinging the deal on a NHL defenseman in return. Just like the Ryan O'Reilly trade, the impacts of such trade on the future are more important than on the present roster.

If you could make the team do one thing in this last month of the offseason, what would it be?

Steph: Announce the Zadorov deal already! It’s been so close to being done for so long that it feels like the team is waiting for some kind of special occasion to blow the Nikita Zadorov Trumpet. It hurts. It sounds like the deal will be good for both player and team, and we’re all just ready to close the book on it. And hey, this way I should get my wish granted. If I can be greedy - also, don’t bring veteran guys out of nowhere to fill the roster again this year please. Let the kids loose.

Blaise: Get a Duchene deal done, hands down. The Avalanche need to start the season off right, with the Duchene drama behind them. Otherwise, not enough will have changed from last year to send the dark clouds that have surrounded this team packing and move on. Whether it is a top 4 defenseman and draft picks coming back in return or a straight one-for-one, looking at the Weber-Subban trade between the Montreal Canadiens and the Nashville Predators earlier this season, this deal has to happen. I would prefer to acquire a young, shoot first winger to accompany Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen rather than a defenseman to plug a hole that will be fixed when our logjam at D gets figured out.

Rudo: Don’t sign any PTO’s and stay away from veteran depth on the waiver wire unless injury necessitates it. Mediocre depth players aren’t going to bring this team back to relevancy, it is only delaying the youth movement even further than they have already. Get your coaching staff on the same page. Bednar got a bit of a pass last year because he was surrounded by assistant coaches from the old regime. This year is sink or swim for him, no matter what you think of this team they shouldn’t be historically bad again. If they are it’s bye bye Bednar.

Adam: I would do my best to generate interest for the team. I would employ ad campaigns about the new faces, our draft picks, and maybe even some self-deprecation. Ensuring that the Avs aren’t losing fans dwelling in the league attendance cellar after such a terrible season is perhaps more important than anything we can do with regard to our actual players (except for Zadorov signing).

Jackie: Replace assistant GM and the man in charge of development, Craig Billington. If a focus on the "youth movement" truly is the organizational plan going forward than a commitment to revamp and hold that portion of the organization accountable is necessary and imperative to build a true pipeline which extends deeper than just the high NHL draft picks who step in almost immediately to the NHL. Whatever additional effects from such a move on the culture of the legacy front office that has been in charge for over a decade would be a welcome bonus. Start with Billington and don't stop if the culture still needs a blowtorch.