clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How the 2019-20 Colorado Avalanche were assembled: Part 2

New, comments

How did the 2019-20 Avalanche come to be?

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, we began the deep dive into how every member of the 2019-20 Colorado Avalanche were brought into the organization. It all began with the trade for Erik Johnson back in February 2011. Part 1 took us through nearly six years of the build - a time period that brought the core of EJ, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen to the organization along with J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost, Nikita Zadorov, Matt Nieto and Mark Barberio.

Now let’s take a look at how Joe Sakic was able to work his magic coming off of the worst season in franchise history.


Jun. 23, 2017

The Avalanche were seemingly cursed. Coming off of a 22 win season, they had the best chance to land the 1st overall pick, which at the time meant the possibility to draft potential superstars like Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier. They would be slighted in the lottery, landing the worst possible spot for them (the 4th overall pick), and it seemed like that the Avs were gonna be stuck in a rebuild for a very long time. However, no matter where you pick, it’s important to hit on your draft picks. Sakic did that exactly, drafting Cale Makar, a right-handed defenseman for the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League). Makar had potential to be the 1st overall pick, but he wasn’t even the first defenseman taken, with Miro Heiskanen going 3rd overall to the Dallas Stars, but the praise for Cale was still extremely high.

Makar would go advance his game at the University of Massachusetts for two seasons, which was a good chance for him to get bigger and stronger as a player as well, and it all certainly paid off. Makar would win the Hobey Baker Award (given out the the best player in college hockey) his second season in the NCAA, help his team make the Frozen Four, sign his ELC with the Colorado Avalanche, and score his first NHL goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against his hometown team, the Calgary Flames all in a span of three days. Makar didn’t disappoint in his rookie season either, posting 12 goals and 38 assists for 50 points in 57 games, and currently leads the way in Calder Trophy voting. This is only the beginning of what could be a hall of fame career for Cale Makar.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

FORWARDS

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - ?

? - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

? - Makar

? - Johnson

? - Zadorov

GOALIES

?

?

EXTRAS

? - ? - ? - ? - Barberio


Jul. 1, 2017

The next piece came via a trade with a division rival. The big fish for the Avs this off-season was Colin Wilson (F), who came from the Nashville Predators for a 2019 4th round pick. Wilson had spent his whole career with the Predators before coming to the Avs, and he’s had an interesting tenure in Colorado. In his three seasons, he has struggled to stay healthy, with 65 games last season being his single season high in Colorado. He put up 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points that season, but 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points in 12 playoff games. He only suited up for 9 games this season, posting 4 assists in that time, before a mysterious injury kept him out all season. He is a UFA at seasons end, and what happens with him remains to be seen.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

FORWARDS

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - ?

? - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

? - Makar

? - Johnson

? - Zadorov

GOALIES

?

?

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - ? - ? - Barberio


Nov. 5, 2017

November 5th, 2017 was an infamous day in Avalanche history. The Avalanche were playing the New York Islanders at Barclays Center that night. Early in the game, former forward Blake Comeau suffers an injury that requires him to skate off to the locker room. The hockey world on social media exploded, as disgruntled star forward Matt Duchene followed Comeau off the ice, leading to tons of speculation that a trade had happened. Sure enough, it began to erupt that Colorado, Ottawa, and Nashville came together for a three-way trade that sent Duchene (F) to the Senators, Senators Kyle Turris (F) to Nashville, and a plethora of picks and prospects from both teams to the Avalanche. A link to the full trade will be included right here.

The biggest pieces of the trade for the Avs have both come from the Predators side, and the headline of the deal for Colorado was 19 year-old defenseman Samuel Girard. Girard was a 2nd round draft pick by Nashville in the 2016 NHL draft, and only played 5 games for the Preds, tallying 3 points. After the trade Girard played in 68 games for the Avs in the 2017-18 season, scoring 3 goals and 17 assists for 20 points. He would follow that season up with a 4 goal, 23 assist campaign in 2018-19, then signing a 7 year, $5 million AAV contract the following summer. He joined Matt Nieto as the only other Avalanche player to play in all 70 games this season, scoring 4 goals and 30 assists for 34 points. A great powerplay quarterback, Girard is barely getting his feet wet in Colorado, and has already played 220 games in the burgundy and blue, at just 22 years old.

2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series - Los Angeles Kings v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The second piece was a young Russian forward named Vladislav Kamenev. A 20 year-old at the time, Kamenev has spent a lot of time injured. This has for the most part prevented him from being a regular in the lineup. He played 38 games this season, posting a goal and seven assists in a depth role. He expressed interest in a fresh start elsewhere towards the 2020 trade deadline, but he is still on the roster as of the time this is being written.

Colorado Avalanche v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

FORWARDS

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - ?

? - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

? - Makar

Girard - Johnson

? - Zadorov

GOALIES

?

?

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - ? - Kamenev - Barberio


Feb. 26, 2018

At the 2018 Trade Deadline, the Avalanche didn’t really make any big moves to go for a playoff push. The only deal they made was seemingly a minor league swap of young defenseman. The Avalanche traded Chris Bigras to the New York Rangers, in exchange for Ryan Graves. Bigras had been in the Avs system for a while, and wasn’t making much progression towards a full time NHL spot, and Graves was doing the same in New York. At the time, the Rangers were the winners for the sole purpose that Bigras had at least played in the NHL. This would quickly go south for the Rangers however, as Graves started playing for the Avs as a 7th defenseman in the 2018-19 season, even scoring his first NHL goal against the Rangers. He worked hard to get a full time roster spot with the Avalanche this season. Graves led the entire NHL in +/- with a +40, and putting up 9 goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 69 games. Graves has earned every bit of this success, and is in for a nice pay raise this off-season.

Anaheim Ducks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

FORWARDS

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - ?

? - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

? - Zadorov

GOALIES

?

?

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - ? - Kamenev - Barberio


May 2, 2018

May 2nd, 2018 saw the Avs make a very intriguing signing out of the KHL, when they signed Goaltender Pavel Francouz to a one-year contract. the 27 year-old posted some extraordinary stats in Russia, signing after a season with averages of .946 SV% and a 1.46 GAA. His first season in North America was spent in the AHL, before joining the team in a backup role for this season. Francouz impressed as well, posting a .923 SV% and a 2.41 GAA in 31 starts, going 21-7-4. These numbers make him one of the best backups in the NHL, and can be a very good starter when Grubauer is out. He also signed a very nice two year $2 million contract extension in February.

NHL: New York Rangers at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - ?

? - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

? - Zadorov

GOALIES

?

Francouz

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - Kaut - Kamenev - Barberio


Jun. 22, 2018

Going into the 2018 NHL Draft, the Avs wanted to make a trade to upgrade their goalie situation. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals were in a cap crunch, needing to sign back some key free agents, including John Carlson. The Avs and Capitals were able to agree to a trade, where the Avalanche acquired Goaltender Philipp Grubauer, and Defenseman Brooks Orpik, in exchange for a 2018 2nd round pick. The Avs immediately bought out Orpik, and signed Grubauer to a 3 year contract, worth $3.3 million annually. Grubauer became the starter late in the 2018-19 season, and helped guide the Avs to the Conference semi-finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Sharks. This season, Grubauer posted a record of 18-12-4 in 34 starts, while posting a save percentage (SV%) of .916 and a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.63.

Washington Capitals v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The 2018 NHL draft saw the Avs draft 16th, as they made the playoffs, and put up a decent fight against the Nashville Predators in the 1st round, going down in 6 games. In the draft, they would select forward Martin Kaut. The Czech forward was seen as a player who can have 2nd line center upside in the NHL, but that he would need some time to grow. He played his first pro season in North America with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL, scoring 12 goals and 14 points for 26 assists in 63 games. While having a decent season once again this season, he earned himself a call-up late in the regular season. In 9 games for the Avs, Kaut posted 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points, and looked very good out there. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Kaut make the team out of cam next season.

Anaheim Ducks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - ?

? - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

? - Zadorov

GOALIES

Grubauer

Francouz

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - Kaut - Kamenev - Barberio


Jul. 1, 2018

After their playoff series against the Predators, the Avs were in need of better depth offensively. They also needed a good penalty killer who could help the defensive side of the special teams. This lined up for two great signings on both sides of the puck. The Avalanche signed winger Matt Calvert and Defenseman Ian Cole, and they have both turned out to be great veteran pieces on a young Colorado team.

Matt Calvert had spent all eight seasons of his career with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and was a fan favorite. Calvert signed a three-year, $2.85 million contract and has been a bottom six winger while in Colorado, and added the grit this team needed as well. This past season, Calvert posted 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in 50 games, and the penalty kill was 13th in the league with him on it.

2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series - Los Angeles Kings v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Next up, Ian Cole. While rocking one of the best beards in the NHL, Cole brought a championship pedigree to the team, having won two cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the decade. The idea of this signing was to be defense first, and he brought very stellar defensive play, as well as blocking a ton of shots. In terms of points, he was able to put up 4 goals and 22 assists for 26 points. Cole is on the second year of a three-year, $4.25 million contract, and he has been worth every penny so far.

New York Islanders v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - ?

Calvert - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

Cole - Zadorov

GOALIES

Grubauer

Francouz

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - Kaut - Kamenev - Barberio


Jun. 28, 2019

Another year, another trade in June with the Capitals. After a successful playoff run for the teams standards, the Avs were looking to jump up into a true Stanley Cup contender. They started by re-creating the 2nd line. The Avalanche acquired winger Andre Burakovsky from the Caps, in exchange for Scott Kosmachuk, a second round pick, and a 3rd round pick in 2020. The Avs immediately signed the RFA to a one-year $3 million contract, a great chance to get a new scenery and a chance to prove his worth at the NHL level. He wouldn’t disappoint in the slightest, having a career year on the 2nd line in Colorado, posting a career high of 20 goals, and tying his single season high for assists with 25, and a career high 45 points. He did all of this in only 57 games as well, so he was on pace for an incredible year had it not been for injuries and the pause. Avs fans should be hopeful that Sakic tries to bring Burakovsky back on a multi-year deal.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

? - ? - Burakovsky

Calvert - Jost - Compher

Nieto - ? - ?

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

Cole - Zadorov

GOALIES

Grubauer

Francouz

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - Kaut - Kamenev - Barberio


Jul. 1, 2019

The Free Agency period of 2019 saw the Avs acquire three pieces on day one, two through signings, and one via trade. The first signing was also to benefit the 2nd line, this time on the right side. The Avalanche signed former San Jose Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi to a four-year, $3.9 million deal, giving Donskoi a new home for the first time in his career. In 65 games, Donskoi notched a career high in goals with 16, and added 17 assists for 33 points. He had a relatively slow season outside of November, where he had 14 points in 14 games, but he still was a good add for the Avs regardless.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The next signing was Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, whom was signed to a 2 year, $1.8 million dollar deal. The French center was a defensively responsible player, and was instantly the oldest player on the team at 35 years old. He brought playoff experience from the Vegas Golden Knights, who reached the Cup Final in their inaugural season. With the Avs, he tallied 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points in 69 games.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest acquisition of the day came through a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, which involved center Nazem Kadri coming over, along with Defenseman Calle Rosen and a 2020 3rd round pick, in exchange for Defenseman Tyson Barrie, Forward Alex Kerfoot, and a 2020 6th round pick. This move was a great one for Colorado, as Bowen Byram fell right to them in the 2019 NHL Draft, making Barrie expendable in exchange for a needed second line center. Kadri only played in 51 games due to injury, but he had 36 points in the games he did play, with 19 goals and 17 assists. He also had a career high in penalty minutes, with 97 of them. He is also the grittiest player on the team, stepping up for his teammates every chance he can get.

Colorado Avalanche v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

Donskoi - Kadri - Burakovsky

Calvert - Jost - Compher

Nieto - Bellemare - ?

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

Cole - Zadorov

GOALIES

Grubauer

Francouz

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - Kaut - Kamenev - Barberio


Aug. 19, 2019

The Avs added some depth to help aid the team even more, signing Valeri Nichushkin to a one year deal, worth $850,000. Val redefined his game to make an NHL comeback, and to say it worked well would be an understatement. In 65 games, he put up 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points, and used his size to be a great defensive forward. He has shown that he still has what it takes to succeed in the NHL, so he’s in for a nice pay raise this offseason.

St Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

Donskoi - Kadri - Burakovsky

Calvert - Jost - Compher

Nieto - Bellemare - Nichushkin

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

Cole - Zadorov

GOALIES

Grubauer

Francouz

EXTRAS

Wilson - ? - Kaut - Kamenev - Barberio


Feb. 24, 2020

The Journey ends at the 2020 trade deadline, where the Avs looked to add a nice piece to the core to help relieve all the injuries. The Avalanche acquired Vladislav Namestnikov from the Ottawa Senators, in exchange for a 2021 5th round pick. This was Namestnikov’s third trade of the 2019-20 season, having been traded early in the season to Ottawa by the New York Rangers. He only played 9 games for Colorado before the pause, but he did have 4 goals and 2 assists for 6 points, which looked pretty good. He’s an RFA at season’s end, and it’s undetermined what will happen with him.

Colorado Avalanche v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen

Donskoi - Kadri - Burakovsky

Calvert - Jost - Compher

Nieto - Bellemare - Nichushkin

DEFENSE

Graves - Makar

Girard - Johnson

Cole - Zadorov

GOALIES

Grubauer

Francouz

EXTRAS

Wilson - Namestnikov - Kaut - Kamenev - Barberio


Players Not Included

  • D Calle Rosen (No longer on team)
  • D Kevin Connauton (Mainly an AHL regular for the foreseeable future)
  • D Conor Timmins (Not enough info to make a summary for him)
  • F TJ Tynan (Mainly an AHL player for the foreseeable future)
  • F Logan O’Connor (Not enough info to make a summary for him)
  • G Michael Hutchinson (Not Enough Info to make a summary for him)