What will you be disappointed by if it doesn’t happen this season?
Tom: I will be disappointed if Tyson Jost doesn’t finish in the top-5 for Calder trophy voting. He’s got the potential to be a true catalyst for this team right away and I’m going to want to see it. Mikko is really good, but Jost can be better. He could be the rookie of the year, but if he struggles and doesn’t end up in the top-5 for voting, I think it will be a disappointing season for him.
Jackie: If the organization does not follow through on the youth movement promise. They need to play guys like JT Compher, Tyson Jost and their young defense all year in big roles. They also need to actually utilize callups and use guys who might not make the team like AJ Greer and Dominic Toninato instead of plugs or those from the waiver wire as depth.
Conor: As Jackie pointed out, the youth movement is here. We’ve ditched (most) of the older guys taking up space on the blue line. It’s time for the Avs to start giving some of these young defensive prospects some NHL minutes. Regardless of whom the first 3 are that make the opening night roster, all 6 (Bigras, Siemens, Mironov, Lindholm, Warsofsky, Meloche) should play in some significant games.
Sylvester: I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get a new goal song this season. The first time the Avs heard “gimmeSOMADAT gimmeSOMADAT” last season, they all collectively agreed to no longer score. This must be rectified.
Cat: I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but I’m going to be disappointed if Matt Duchene doesn’t get a new home. At this point, his situation has been far too mismanaged to leave him playing frustrated for a team that’s clearly about to kick-start a rebuild (of which he likely wouldn’t be a significant building block). Give him a chance to play for a cup this year, or join a team that’s got a clear one-or-two-year timetable to go deep in the postseason. If the team holds on to him anyway, waiting for the magic beans of trade offers to fall in their lap, I’ll be severely disappointed for the way Duchene’s childhood favorite franchise treated him at the end.
How many games will Matt Duchene play for the Avs this season?
Jackie: 80, give or take a few for injury. He's not going anywhere at this point.
Conor: Make no mistake. Though the relationship looks to be improving, Duchene still wants to be traded. The Avalanche are sitting at 0-0 and spirits are high for the moment. But all it takes is one bad game, one bad blowout, one bad post-game answer and the toxic air is back. Unfortunately, that scenario might happen earlier than expected. I’ll go out on a limb and say 20 games.
Sylvester: If the Canadiens continue their inability to score the puck to start the regular season? Five. Otherwise, I think we’re looking at him getting dealt to the first playoff contender that loses a stretch of games that includes a shutout or two. I’d guess 15-20.
Tom: How many games do the Avs play before the trade deadline? Matt Duchene will be traded sometime in February.
Cat: Hopefully, fewer than 82. I’d put him somewhere around the 35-game mark. That’s about the point where teams start to really accept where their seasons are headed (dominant, bubble, or down the drain) and pull the trigger on the first few moves of the winter season. Someone is going to find themselves in desperate need of some help down the middle, and hopefully something will get done.
How many wins will the team finish with?
Jackie: 35, it's an improvement from last year at least.
Conor: 39. The Avalanche will be much better this year. I think they’ll improve on defense and Varlamov will be back to form. They can make it over .500.
Tom: I’m going to go with 34 - which is going to be about ten 10 more than Vegas.
Sylvester: 37. Not in a row.
Cat: Yesterday, USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen predicted that the Avalanche will finish 14th out of 15 Western Conference teams with 72 points and 31 wins. He’s a very marginal analyst, but I think he gave a nice, conservative estimate here. 30-35 wins tops.
Make one bold prediction for the season.
Tom: Nail Yakupov finishes top-3 in team scoring.
Jackie: Joe Cannata will see NHL action.
Conor: Tyson Barrie gets 50 assists.
Sylvester: Semyon Varlamov remains healthy, but still loses the starting job to Jonathan Bernier.
Cat: Joe Sakic loses his job before the playoff schedules are even released.
(**editor’s note: That’s not very bold Cat)