Now that the dust of the free agent frenzy has settled the results of the Colorado Avalanche's offseason have taken shape. As a team with high expectations heading into the 2020-21 season, whenever that begins, the Avalanche needed to make a few tweaks while also keeping mindful of the future budget.
Here are some thoughts from Jackie, Hardev and two new members of the team now that the draft and the bulk of free agency is behind us.
Going back to the draft, the Avalanche made five selections. How do you feel overall about their 2020 draft class as a whole and which was your favorite pick?
Patrick: It’s hard to get a feel for a draft class so early, especially without picking in the top 5. With that being said, it looks like Joe did a good job of taking value where he could. Really like the addition of Foudy to the prospect forward pool. If his shot develops he could be a steal.
Ross: While we have to temper expectations until these players start to get into training camps and have their D+1 (draft plus 1) seasons, the Avalanche knocked it out of the park. Justin Barron was a complete steal, in my mind (he was a former top-10 to top-15 pick before the blood clots) and I am all about the speed and tenacity of Jean-Luc Foudy, as well as the pure finishing ability of Colby Ambrosio. They also took a chance on an overage player in Nils Aman who has a chance. The underlying theme here is speed, and they keep investing in it. I’m 100% behind this draft haul because they maximized 5 picks in a year where they can take chances on their draft stock.
Hardev: I think the Avs left a lot on the board when they picked Barron. He’s a style of defenseman they don’t have in their system but he has limited upside and and I think they could’ve gotten him later. I like Foudy, I think there’s a lot of room for his stock to increase once he’s on an improved junior roster next year. Ambrosio and Rolston are long-term bets that we’ll see the results of after time in the NCAA. I don’t know much about Aman beyond what I wrote, I worry he got picked after a hot year as one of the oldest players in a U20 league. We’ll see. I left the draft fairly underwhelmed, I was hoping for more with a first and second round selection.
Jackie: Safety was the theme of the draft with multiple connections either via other Avalanche system prospects, former players or familiar NCAA programs. Spending picks on roster holes is a fine use of assets but without selling off any of their own roster veterans for picks in return or aggressively looking to trade down these five member draft classes might become the norm for a while. They did fine with those picks and Foudy has intriguing upside. Barron feels like insurance against Conor Timmins and his injury concerns.
Joe Sakic was busy with several trades, depth signings and RFA contract extensions over the last couple of weeks. Which was his best transaction?
Patrick: As much as I like the Toews trade, bringing in Saad and Gilbert for Zadorov seems like the move that most re-defines the team moving forward. Getting Chicago to eat salary makes it the best move Sakic made in an off-season of strong moves.
Ross: Saad and Toews. If you were playing NHL 21 with someone who was inexperienced in hockey you’d likely get some comments of the ilk: “I didn’t know both Saad and Toews left the Blackhawks”. The best part is, the Avalanche don’t need Jonathan Toews because they have Nazem Kadri, and they switched Nikita Zadorov out for a much better defenseman in Devon Toews. Yeah, I am completely behind the Sakic wizardry. He’s building stone castles while everyone else is building them in the sand.
Jackie: landing a likely top-six forward and top-four defenseman without giving up any major picks, prospects or contract commitments was a big win for Sakic. Additionally, while the contract for Andre Burakovsky was a bit shorter than I expected it was a good move to lock him up for a couple years at $4.9M and keep options open.
Hardev: I would have to agree the Saad trade was the best. It’s pretty obvious that I wasn’t the biggest Zadorov fan. I’m glad they upgraded at his position massively and got a top-six forward as well. I think the best move Sakic made was not closing up his cap flexibility for the future. There are lots of big RFAs left to sign so short term deals (like Saad) work the best for the medium and long term.
Other than contracts for the duo of RFA defenseman acquired from the Islanders what else do the Avalanche need to do to complete the offseason?
Patrick: I think they’re good? I guess Joe could bring in some more goaltending depth with the likely condensed schedule, but the Avs look SO deep up front and in defense that it’s hard to see us adding much without spending money we don’t have on elite talent that isn’t on the market.
Ross: From a contractual standpoint (other than signing the aforementioned Toews) nothing. Plain and simple. However, I am a bit concerned about how their signings impact a guy like Conor Timmins. He needs some playing time in the NHL in order to grow, and while another year in the AHL might not hurt his potentiality, I have my reservations about what it will mean for him long-term. Sure, the expansion draft is coming, and we might lose a defenseman, but the kid is already 22. It’s time to get him in the lineup more regularly.
Hardev: They probably won’t have enough space after signing Toews for any larger pieces. Banking cap space and going after Taylor Hall at the trade deadline is #1 on my To Do List. But until then, we wait.
Jackie: If Sakic can manage to extend either Gabe Landeskog or Cale Makar before the next season begins then he’s ahead of the game when it comes to the next round of internal free agents. Sam Girard signing last summer was always a win but it is massive to already have a key piece locked up and with cost certainty.
Rumor has it that the Avalanche might wear a Nordiques style throwback jersey in the upcoming season. Are you in favor of the idea?
Patrick: YES YES YES YES YES! I was a fan of the ‘diques before they moved and it would be so cool to see Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar cruising around in those gorgeous blue unis.
Ross: My Peter Forsberg Nordiques jersey is probably the most worn item from my closet, so...yeah I am on board. Like Patrick said, pay homage to the team from which you came. It’ll be the first jersey I buy in 2021 if the rumor is true. Totally down.
Jackie: The Avalanche haven’t had many special jerseys in their tenure and for the 25th anniversary seems the perfect time to add one. I see it as honoring their heritage and can’t deny that my closet is begging for a Nords Samuel Girard to add to the collection.