Over the next few weeks, we are going to be publishing a series of posts dedicated to previewing the 2019-20 Colorado Avalanche season. As a part of the series, we are going to ask people who cover other NHL teams to give us a perspective on the Avs from an outsider’s perspective.
We are going to start with Geo (@GeoFitz4) from Raw Charge. Geo is a die-hard Tampa Bay Lightning fan and an invaluable contributor to their SB Nation fan site. He’s one of the smartest hockey minds you’ll come across, getting his perspective on the Avalanche was a necessity for us.
How impressive was last year’s playoff run by the Avalanche from someone without a rooting interest?
To be honest, I pretty much tuned out of the playoffs after the Lightning’s embarrassing sweep in the first round. Looking back at it, I’m not that surprised they were able to beat out the Flames. The rotation of Rittich and Smith was not one that inspired a lot of confidence even though the Flames have some great offensive talent. But to also take the Sharks to seven games was definitely impressive. That’s a well built team and the Avs performance in the playoffs bodes well for this season.
The Avs had some significant turnover this summer, how would you rate their offseason?
Barrie was a defenseman that I had previously coveted for the Lightning to pick up in a trade. With the depth of defense for the Avs, it wasn’t a shock to see him moved (though couldn’t you have kept him away from the Leafs?!). Kadri was a great pick up that really strengthens them down the middle, which is depth you have to have especially in the playoffs. I think Burakovsky will be an underrated pick-up and will shine in the middle of the Avs line-up.
Also have to give a stick tap for re-signing Sam Girard. I think that’s going to end up being a cheap contract. When the Avs picked him up, I thought that was going to be the steal of the trade, though Bowen Byram might change that. Overall, I give the Avs a solid A. They gave up some assets, but between the return and the free agent signings, I think they’re set to take a step forward.
Should Mikko Rantanen being unsigned worry Avs fans?
I’m in the same boat because of Brayden Point. A lot of fans around the NHL are in the same boat really. I’m a little bit worried about all of these RFAs as we continue to get closer to opening night. That worry level will, and should, go up when the puck drops on the season and these RFAs are unsigned. I think it’s all just waiting for one team or player to give in. Once that first big contract gets finished, the rest will fall in short order when the market has been set. The Avs have the room to sign him right now to any contract, but they need to respect their future situation as well.
How do you think the Avalanche will do this season?
My ceiling for the Avs is second in the central and more likely a wild card team once again. The Central Division is still tough. I think St. Louis will fall back as Binnington struggles in his first full season as the starter. Nashville, Winnipeg, and Dallas though are still going to be tough to get by. What it’s really going to come down to for all five of these teams, and I know this sounds cliche, is how the goaltending shakes out.
Final thoughts about the Avs:
The Avalanche have a solid roster. The top line is one of the best trios in the NHL. The forward depth has been improved. The defense is also strong and deep, even with the loss of Tyson Barrie at the top. The biggest question mark is obviously goaltending. Grubauer has never played more than the 37 games he played for the Avs last year and has generally been an average to above average back-up in his career. Can Francouz translate his AHL success last year into something more? For post season awards, my only Avs related prediction is that Cale Makar ends up as a Calder Finalist coming in 3rd place in the voting.