As the last few weeks has slowly transformed the Colorado Avalanche locker room into a sort of medical ward of injured Avs, it appeared the team was beginning to flat-line, falling to 2-5-1 without some of its injured star power, and quickly slipping out of an semblance of the team that started the season 7-0-1.
In the recent days, however, it appears Colorado is turning a corner again. After two straight home victories, including a 9-4 thrashing of Nashville, the Avalanche is proving that life without Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog may be possible after all.
In any event, it’s Tuesday and you have questions that I will now attempt to answer. It was a lighter mailbag this week so this one should be quick. Let’s start with the easiest question I received:
Is Cale Makar positively impacting the Avalanche?— Marqis (@marQisHG) November 11, 2019
Is the sky blue? Is water wet? Did the Avalanche win the Matt Duchene trade?
The answer is yes.
Recently named NHL’s Third Star of the Week, the Avs rookie phenom defenseman has arrived in Denver as advertised and appears well on his way to winning this season’s Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year. He’s the first Avalanche rookie to be named one of the NHL’s “Stars of the Week” since Duchene was named third star for the first week of December in 2009. He’s also just the third Colorado D-man to be named a star, and the first since Tyson Barrie in January of 2016.
Want more stats?
He’s the first rookie defenseman to score more than 12 points in his first 15 games in Avalanche history. And Makar is just the fifth defenseman in modern NHL history to record more than 15 points in his first 16 career games, joining company like Phil Housley in that regard.
That’s already some pretty incredible company to be in for a rookie who has only played in this league for six weeks.
In total, Makar has 17 points in 17 games, leading all NHL rookies in points and assists. But individual stats aside, to answer your question, yes, he is certainly positively impacting the Avalanche. He’s been integral in the team’s puck-moving abilities and in quarterbacking a semi-successful Avs power play this season. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in his skating and smart decision-making that will make him a key part of Colorado’s blueline and will make him a threat to this league for years to come.
Kamenev has a 3 game pt streak but can’t seem to get more ice time. What does he need to improve on to get more ice time and what is his ceiling and what do you see his role on the Avs being the rest of the season?— Jim (@JimCarlson1571) November 11, 2019
Vladislav Kamenev is another prime example of what happens when a team is so deep with solid forward depth that the team can’t afford to ice all of them.
Kamenev was a promising forward prospect, who was acquired in the aforementioned Duchene Trade, and has since struggled with season-ending injuries. He made the team to start the season but spent the first month sitting in the press box. Kamenev finally got his shot at some game action in light of the abundance of ailing Avs.
Indeed, he’s on a three-game point streak and now has three points in six games for Colorado. By all accounts he’s been solid night-in and night-out. Yet still, he’s regressed from a season-high 19 shifts and 11:25 of ice time at Dallas three games ago, to 14 shifts the following game, to a season-low 11 during the Avs’ most recent victory against Columbus, even while playing on a line with Andre Burakovsky, who also registered a season-low 15 shifts against the Blue Jackets.
So what gives?
To be honest, I’m not really sure. Coach Bednar is playing around with a variety of different lines and Kamenev has been a victim of Bednar’s science experiments and theoretical testing. At the end of the day, however, point streak or not, Kam is playing on the fourth-line, where averaging around 10 minutes per game is to be expected. It comes with the territory, literally, of playing in the fourth line. I’d imagine if he keeps it up, however, he may earn some third-line minutes in the near future while the Avs injured stars remain on the sidelines.
So Taylor Hall. I know Tavares and Panarin were pipe dreams, but the Avs make a lot of sense for Hall, arguably more than any other team, given they can outbid just about anybody and contending for a cup seems to be his main concern. Thoughts on chances of Hall being an Av?— Luke Campbelloween (@LukeCam80109424) November 11, 2019
So Taylor Hall.
As fans move on from questions about the Altitude TV dispute, the most-asked question now has become “how and when do the Avalanche get Taylor Hall on the team?” And I’m here for it.
I think there’s actually a solid chance this becomes more than just a pipe dream or a rumor.
After qualifying for the playoffs and finishing the season with 97 points during the 2017-18 campaign, the New Jersey Devils have sunken into the abyss of Dante’s Inferno, residing somewhere near the ninth circle of treachery. Shoutout to my literary nerds that understand that reference. Since the success of season’s ago, the Devils have finished second-to-last in the East last year and have again stumbled out of the gate this year now here at the quarter-mark of the season.
If the pitfall continues in New Jersey, given Hall is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season, it’s possible the Devils will look to sell him at the trade deadline in February. If that is the case, the Colorado Avalanche probably become the most likely destination.
That Avs have the most cap space available ($7.4 million) of any contender at the moment and will likely shoot their shot at a player who is set to become the most-coveted forward since John Tavares or Artemi Panarin. There is likely some mutual interest, too, from Hall to play in such a young and desirable location like Colorado.
At this point, Avs fans should be scoreboard watching in New Jersey and hoping that the devil himself rises up and curses the Devils to a losing season. If that happens, I think it’s a greater than like 80-percent chance Hall lands in Denver.
Good idea? Remove the linesman with camera’s builts in on the blue line and a video judge monitoring w/the ability to trigger an offsides light. Then add a 3rd official to help call the game. One less body on the ice to interfer w/flow and more eyes to catch stuff.— Jim (@JimCarlson1571) November 11, 2019
This is an interesting concept.
But unfortunately, I just don’t think it would do much to help improve the game. There are already cameras built into the boards at the blueline to help catch those plays that the linesmen can’t with their own eyes.
I think it’s a cool concept that brings up an interesting point, but it seems like a lot of unnecessary added reliance on technology.
Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
Our biggest rival used to be the Red Wings. When the Wild were good they were kind of our rivals. I live in Memphis so I consider the Preds to be a big Avs’ rival. Give me our top 3 rivals. Who is number 1?— Gil Maneclang (@Rx_MoreCowbell) November 11, 2019
The old Red Wings rivalry was fun, but due to the nature of the game today, I don’t think we’ll see another heated rivalry quite like that one.
The Minnesota Wild have done a good job as a modern-day replacement, with most matchups involving more than few skirmishes and a few tightly-contested games. That said, I’d say the Wild would be No. 1 for me. My list looks like this.
1.) Minnesota Wild
2.) Nashville Predators
Why? 2017-18 playoff loss, Matt Duchene.
3.) St. Louis Blues
Why? Always a tough matchup, Ryan O’Reilly.
More questions, comments or concerns? Hit me up on Twitter anytime @0ffScottFree. See you next Tuesday!