When anyone talks about the 2017-18 Colorado Avalanche, they inevitably go straight to the defense. With the exit of a number of veterans and a whole lot of question marks beyond the top-3, it’s safe to say, Joe Sakic and crew are likely looking to add some talent to the back-end.
Sure the team has spoken about giving an opportunity to the young defenders and guys like Bigras and Lindholm look ready to contribute, but Sakic has also made an effort to point out the Avs’ waiver priority.
The Avalanche will have first waiver priority right up until November 1st - at which point the order is determined by the standings.
Every season, there are usually a handful of pretty good players that for one reason or another have to be snuck through waivers at the beginning of the season. This year, with their waiver priority, the Avalanche have to be ready to pounce when an interesting name comes up. Luckily, it sounds like Sakic is ready.
Sure, the team might be happy with Bigras, Lindholm and Mironov as their 5-6-7 guys this season, but there is a very good chance that a better defender becomes available.
There will be some surprises, but at this point, the one team we know will have waiver issues is the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas currently has 11 defenders on NHL contracts. They are going to have to send at least a couple down through waivers. It’s bad enough that Shea Theodore should be playing in their top-4, but could be sent down because he is waiver exempt. Of course, they could trade a defender or two before the start of the season, but this is a place to watch.
Given the roster, I would not at all be surprised if Vegas tried to get Brayden McNabb through waivers next week. If his name comes up, the Avs absolutely must pounce. Playing in a limited role in Los Angeles the past few seasons, McNabb has put up near-elite corsi numbers - both for and against. Those would probably come down with an expanded role, but he would instantly become Colorado’s second-best left-shooting defender.
Another young left-defenseman that could very well end up on waivers next week is Slater Koekkoek in Tampa Bay. The 22-year old has been outplayed by Mikhail Sergachev through training camp and would have to be put on waivers to get back to the AHL. He’s got the potential to be a smooth-skating two-way defender that plays in your bottom-4. If he ends up on waivers, the Avs would be wise to put in a claim.
Beyond those two, there are almost certainly going to be others on waivers that can help the Avs blueline this season. They are very thin on the back end and playing the waiver wire is an inexpensive way to add talent to the organization. The team has room and the asset of the first priority - they need to take advantage.