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.
our second opinion comes from Ryan Fancey of The Leafs Nation. Ryan is a friend but also one of the smartest people on hockey twitter. Don’t let his Leafs fandom fool you, Ryan approaches hockey from a well thought out, logical perspective. He’s also from Newfoundland so the fact that the Avs selected Alex Newhook at this year’s draft has Ryan pretty excited about the future in Denver.
How impressive was last year’s playoff run by the Avalanche from someone without a rooting interest?
It was interesting enough that I went from someone without a rooting interest to hoping they could advance further. The reliance on Nathan MacKinnon to shoulder a huge load made for a classic “Player taking over a series” scenario against the Flames, and I think their overall style, which follows MacKinnon’s lead, is to beat the brakes off teams with speed. It was a real treat to watch, especially with Cale Makar making the immediate jump to contributing. They’re much more on my radar this year for sure.
The Avs had some significant turnover this summer, how would you rate their offseason?
I’d say they’ve definitely improved, which is pretty much all you can ask for when already coming off a playoff run. Alexander Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie are significant pieces lost but I think they got the best player in that trade in Nazem Kadri. Joonas Donskoi is someone I wanted the Leafs to target if they could’ve swung it - an analytics darling who can chip in his fair share of offence. The gamble on Andre Burakosvky was definitely worth exploring, so yeah, I can’t see how they’re anything but improved, especially with Makar getting a full season in now. Their draft was known to be one of the better approaches too.
Should Mikko Rantanen being unsigned worry Avs fans?
No. Just like all these RFAs, eventually it will get done. We’re just in a weird zone where everyone is holding everyone else up. If I had to bet on it, I’d think Rantanen is the second domino to fall after Brayden Point, whenever that happens. I’m looking at the Leafs and Mitch Marner in a similar situation, and while I enjoy arguing about it and following the drama, I don’t worry in the slightest about it settling out.
How do you think the Avalanche will do this season?
I think the Avalanche obviously trended in the right direction during the end of the season and into the playoffs, so the big question is whether we should buy into that as a precursor for this season. I do buy into it. But the Central is a difficult division and I think they can end up anywhere in a jumble of Winnipeg, Dallas, and Nashville. I’ll play it relatively safe and predict a modest point increase to 94-95 points and the first wildcard slot.
Final thoughts about the Avs:
This is a team going in the right direction for sure, and from afar I think the Avs’ front office is worth having a lot of trust in with Arik Parnass and their analytics hires. Like any team that’s near the bubble (or even in contention in a tight division) they could be vulnerable if a big injury happens or their goaltending doesn’t bring enough to the table. But from where I’m standing I’d say this is a competitive team with a potentially high ceiling, and being a lot of fun to watch is always a nice bonus.