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MHH Roundtable: The Home Stretch

Analysis of hopes and expectations for last weeks of the Colorado Avalanche’s season

Winnipeg Jets v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Well we have a dozen games left in the regular season so that leaves us time for one more round table. Here is what out writers think about the rest of the year and what to look forward to as we hard into the summer. Let us know what you think be low in the comment section.

The Colorado Avalanche were buyers at the trade deadline, was this the right call?

Tom: Yes it was - but only because they were able to add to their lineup without really giving anything up. Derick Brassard brings an element to the team that wasn’t there before and all it cost them was a swap of a 3rd and 6th pick. When it comes to finding a regular NHLer, the difference in those picks is a lot less than many realize. The probability of finding someone to play 100 NHL games with a 3rd round pick is nearly identical to the chances of finding one with a 6th. So from that stand point the addition far outweighs the price for me.

Since the team already owns extra draft picks this year, making the playoff for a second straight season could be incredibly valuable to the growth of this team. It would have been nice if they could have picked up a late pick for a guy like Andrighetto, but at the end of the day this is a team that wants to make the playoffs and you can’t fault them for that.

Chris: Considering they got a piece of the puzzle and didn’t have to give up a lot, it was the right move. We knew the Avs were not going to make a splash and trade for that big name as a rental, and what they got was a vet on a still young team that brings playoff experience if they happen to make it. The way the season was going after the calendar changed, I thought Colorado would stand pat. Selling wouldn’t have made any sense to me since the prospects coming and the Ottawa draft pick along with their own pick would just add to the plan Joe Sakic has been preparing for a while now. Selling would have given the impression they have given up on that plan.

Jackie: The Avalanche should not have been buyers and their inability to grab a playoff spot is a big indicator. Joe Sakic has used a mid-round pick from every draft from 2014 to now 2020 in order to shore up roster holes with marginal depth and has still not brought in a pick at the deadline which means more core player trades are needed to fill the draft stock back up. Brassard is a fine player but miscast as a top line fill-in for Gabe Landeskog and hasn’t produced any points yet in that role. It is tough not to be envious of Vegas and what type of real splash and that they used their assets to get an impact player in Mark Stone and then was able to sign him to an extension as well. That’s how a team improves depth at the deadline.

Adrian: Joe Sakic was quick and witty in his pick up of veteran playoff presence Derick Brassard. This smart decision is only accentuated by the recent and unfortunate loss of Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. Not breaking up the group and sending a pick over was an added bonus and the conditional 6th rounder the Avs would get in return (if Brassard doesn’t sign), is essentially as valuable as the 3rd rounder that was sent for Brassy. That being said he’s a true rental. Lots of folks were hoping that we’d sell, but to me, that would be a defeating move from a GM that needs to keep evolving the mentality of his young squad. It’s no longer rebuild time. Rantanen, MacKinnon, Barrie, and Landeskog are all stepping into their prime. Couple that with a new wave of young and elite talent in the next 1-4 years and you have yourself a dynamic veteran squad with young depth. Sprinkle in some stout goaltending, and that’s your recipe for postseason success.

Do you expect the Avalanche to make the playoffs and how many points do they finish with?

Jackie: Before the season I predicted the Avalanche would finish with 88 points so I’m sticking to that. At this point it looks like that number is right on the playoff cut line and that is also where I believe the Avalanche will fall. They are going to either make the playoffs or miss by a point or two yet again and if I had to guess they just miss this time.

Tom: I said they’d get to 84 points at the start of the season. That means the team needs 12 out of a possible 24 points through the remainder of the season. I think they’ll get more than that and finish the season at 90 points and grab one of the Wild Card spots.

Chris: I’m glad I contributed to this round-table after I completed my ‘remainder of the schedule’ story for MHH. Prior to doing the story, my Avalanche fandom would have kicked in and I would have given an emphatic ‘YES’ before even looking at what they have to overcome. Having looked at their schedule and the schedules of the opponents ahead of them I’ve backed off a little. The possibility is of course there, but like I said in the piece, the Avs have put themselves in the position of needing to win while relying on other teams. Not a good position to be in. That OT record is the bane of this team. Point prediction: 86

Adrian: I’m usually a man of optimism, but this year I don’t really see the late season tenacity that a team needs to make the playoffs. Colorado has been in a “playoff hockey” situation since the middle of February and hasn’t returned to the dominant play that we saw mid-November. In the past when I count them out, they prove me wrong. Here’s to hoping and yes, that’s attempted reverse mojo. Let’s see if it pays off. I say Colorado finishes with 86 points, just outside the final wild card spot.

What needs to happen for the Avalanche to make the playoffs?

Jackie: Obviously wins and scoring more than they give up are the keys to the Avalanche making the postseason but really, the team will go on the back of Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. If each reach the 100 point plateau I feel like the Avalanche will have a good chance of racking up enough wins to make it.

Tom: If the Avalanche are going to make the playoffs, someone unexpected is going to have to step up. We all know how MacKinnon and Rantanen can carry the team, but for this team to win with Landeskog, someone else is going to need to catch fire. Maybe it’s the goalies. Maybe it’s Alex Kerfoot, or maybe it’s the grizzled vet in Derick Brassard.

Chris: Take care of home ice. The Avs play more games at home than away with what is left of the season. If the Avs can dominate at home then win a couple on the road, they get in. That and no more injuries.

Adrian: Colorado is gonna need to get on a little 4-6 game win streak in the last 12 to really put the pressure on other fringe squads. Also, the Avs need to beat teams that are out of playoff contention and bury some central division rivals along the way. A tall order for a team that is without it’s captain. Consequently, quality performances from the roommates (Jost, Compher, Kerfoot) are essential in the final stretch.

Are you more excited for Cale Makar or Ottawa’s first round pick?

Tom: I’m going to have to go with Cale Makar. He’s leading UMass to the best season in school history and is likely going to win the Hobey Baker. He should be up with the Avs for the final few games this season and should inject some excitement into the fan base. That said, this answer changes quickly if the Sens pick wins the lottery - Jack Hughes is one of the rare phenoms who might actually be better than the hype.

Chris: It’s difficult to give a definitive answer to this not knowing yet what pick the Avs end up with thanks to Ottawa. If we are to assume it’s the #1 overall pick that lands Jack Hughes then I have to go with Hughes for the simple fact I like offense he’s a center compared to Makar being on the defensive side, and I say that knowing full well the Avs need more help on D than scoring. There really is no wrong answer here (again, assuming we get Hughes) because both of these guys will make Colorado a powerhouse for years to come. I’m with Tom in that if it is not the #1 pick, it doesn’t matter who the Avs get they won’t be as exciting as Makar.

Arielle: If the draft were tomorrow, I would choose Ottawa’s first rounder, but since it isn’t until late June, I will also focus my excitement on Makar. He has clearly proven himself in the NCAA — especially playing in the competitive Hockey East. College hockey season is almost over, and that will allow him to join the Avs sooner, rather than later. For a team that needs a boost anywhere they can get it, adding a tested college player to the lineup can only help. Just last year, the Washington Capitals signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich in March, and he played his way onto the playoff roster. NCAA trained players can make immediate impacts on NHL teams, whereas a draft pick can’t help until October, at the earliest.

Jackie: I’m also going with the known quantity in Cale Makar, which is getting more difficult to remain patient waiting for by the day, but I’m not certain we will see him in an Avalanche sweater before the fall. Burning a contract year, the expansion draft and how long Makar’s season will go are all factors in the situation. As far as the Ottawa pick, I’d be equally as excited to select Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Vasili Podkolzin or Bowen Byram.

Adrian: If the Avalanche make the playoffs and Makar’s first taste of the NHL is of the playoff variety, I’ll be more excited for that. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty big if at the moment. If they miss the playoffs, I’ll be ready to see what all the hoopla is about in regards to Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko who will add a pretty impressive amount of depth alongside Makar (and possibly Timmins) in 2019-2020.