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MHH Roundtable: Holiday Wish List

Dear Santa, we’ve been good this year…

Colorado Avalanche v Nashville Predators Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

In the spirit of the holidays, we delve into our holiday wishes for the Central Division leading Colorado Avalanche. There’s still time for holiday shopping so we are making our desires known, hint hint.

If Santa could bring a contract extension for one Avalanche player on Christmas morning which would you ask for?

Evan: I’d love it if there was a contract extension for a healthy Pavel Francouz. Since he’s out injured for the year and unlikely to ever play in an Avalanche uniform again, it’s a sad wish but a hopeful one. More importantly, I hope Santa does bring Francouz good health and comfort off the ice.

Adrian: I wonder if Mikko Rantanen’s contract can be handled ahead of time now that the NHL has announced projected cap figures. I know it’s not a pressing issue this season, but Colorado might boost Mikko’s confidence by inking a deal early. Such a move would also be good for the mindset of Nathan MacKinnon, who is now slated to be an Avalanche through the 2030-31 season.

Ezra: I don’t feel ready to extend any of the Avs pending UFAs this summer, though I’m hoping Jonathan Drouin can earn a new contract in the playoffs. I’ll go with an RFA - Ben Meyers. Let’s sign him to a long cheap deal like Logan O’Connor’s and see if he can follow LOC’s development path too.

Jackie: A Rantanen deal would be a Christmas miracle because that could get tricky this summer. It would also be nice to lock Cale Makar up on his next extension but he’s going to get paid a ton regardless. But truly I’d go for Alexandar Georgiev to sign a modest extension as he’s been solid in net despite a few ups and downs and the Avalanche can’t keep rolling the dice on a new starting goaltender every couple of years before crapping out on one. (Yes, I know none of these extensions are actually possible via the CBA right now but we are talking Christmas wishes).

What would you give the Avalanche as stocking stuffers?

Evan: I’d give the Avalanche some bubble wrap and maybe a neck guard. There have been some close calls with injury recently, so we might as well continue on with the running joke of wrapping the team in bubble wrap after the traumas of last season. Plus, it might not hurt to get them neckguards, with the exception of Frederik Olofsson who is the only Avalanche player wearing them so far.

Adrian: I’d throw a cigar and a picture of the 2022 Stanley Cup Champions in the stocking this year. I’d tie a little note to each cigar with a red ribbon that would read, “Remember what it took, earn this stogie.” The championship makeup is still a part of this team's identity; they just have to get back to disciplined and tight-checking hockey.

Ezra: A get-out-of-Ryan-Johansen’s-contract free card? Do they sell those on Amazon? Somebody ask Barry Trotz where he found his...

Jackie: A shiny new power play. Surely there is an updated blueprint made up at the hockey factory that incorporates speed and creativity to give the league’s 19th ranked unit a boost. Also, a new number for Sam Malinski, he’s scored a NHL goal now he should be done with the development camp digits of the unsightly 70.

If the Avalanche could gift exchange one player who would you choose?

Evan: I have a feeling I won’t be the only one to answer this person, but a Kurtis MacDermid trade for someone else who can be relied on more and play more than five minutes a night would be nice.

Adrian: I can’t help but think of Michael Scott buying Ryan Howard an iPod despite there being a $30 limit to the gift exchange. Who has the iPod in the NHL? Which player is on the trading block that is way better than anything to be exchanged but undoubtedly on the move? To me, that’s gotta be Mario Ferraro of the San Jose Sharks. What will be enough for San Jose? Oh god, let’s just answer the question. Ryan Johansen.

Ezra: I love that trade if Sam Girard is going to be out long term, though of course that’s really hard to know. The Avs would have to give some big sweeteners to make that work. I’ll go with a change of scenery swap and see if two guys who need a kickstart can turn their seasons around - Tomas Tatar to the New York Islanders for Oliver Wahlstrom.

Jackie: In the spirit of dreaming big I’d go for Vancouver’s Andrei Kuzmenko and to fit in his $5.5M salary for this year and the next Ryan Johansen would have to go the other way and let’s throw in Kurtis MacDermid as well to make the money work and get rid of another contract. In reality Ezra is correct that Tatar is the most likely to get change of scenery swapped but it’s most likely the return would be another of the over 30 crowd.

What should Colorado’s New Year’s resolution be?

Evan: Their New Year’s resolution should be to put together a full 60-minute performance. We haven’t seen many of those this season, and its cost them in games. Do this, and 2024 may just be sweet, but if they don’t, it can turn sour quickly.

Adrian: Colorado should make it their resolution to not allow any more goals in the final minute of a period. It’s become a part of the team identity to take the foot off the gas at the end of the frame, and that’s not a quality characteristic.

Ezra: Refocus the powerplay on Mikko Rantanen’s shot. Makar and MacKinnon rock but they just don’t need to be taking one timers - Mikko is the best at it on the roster and finding seam passes to him should be the focus. Everyone else will get opportunities to score if PKs are keyed on the Moose.

Jackie: Gotta make one more plea to begin to work on fixing the development system. Oskar Olausson’s one NHL game was nice but a clear path to graduation needs to become clear to make any sort of progress. Options are slim in the AHL right now so it’s going to be another lost year for the prospect system but implementing changes now will hopefully bear fruit in a year or two when it could make the difference in a championship run.