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The Avalanche are betting big on Drouin, Johansen, and elite defense

Both forwards seek to fill a void and the D group will have to score.

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

The Colorado Avalanche officially put a bow on their off-season acquisitions yesterday by inking Ross Colton to a four-year four-million-dollar contract. In my opinion, this price will look better and better as time wears on for a guy that should be able to slot into the 3C role at a similar production level as the former Avalanche J.T. Compher. As for the infamous void at the second-line center position? The Avalanche are gambling on Ryan Johansen, who is returning from injury.

Now the 2C and 3C are squared away, ironically at the same price that Alex Newhook and J.T. Compher got on the open market combined, the attention turns to replacing Landeskog's production inside the top 6 group. This is where Jonathan Drouin joins the conversation. Or at least that's what we are told.

I'm not necessarily convinced that Drouin comes to town, gets top-line minutes with MacKinnon, and suddenly turns into Joe Pavelski. I am super intrigued about how his playstyle might improve inside Coach Bednar's system, but I'd be surprised if he's a 20-30 goalscorer. Pleasantly surprised.

If this is what the Avalanche will go with on the opening night, this season's team will ask a lot of a defensive group that has proven to be more than a substantial contributor to the score sheet. Cale has been a point-per-game player since entering the league, so that shouldn't be too difficult an ask. I often wonder if a move could be made to liquidate some of the defensive equity in terms of talent and cap space to move for a bonafide 2C.

Devon Toews is on an expiring contract and is of the talent level to return a quality centerman, give or take a few other pieces. Sam Girard is always among trade rumors due to his scapegoat persona here in Colorado. Still, he does not return as much as Toews, and naturally, a deal involving him will involve more pieces of greater significance on top of his team-friendly contract.

"We are trying to win a Stanley Cup here." This is the most common response I get to talks of trading Toews. That's my end game too. Ask yourself this question, is Colorado more likely to make a cup run with surprisingly adequate forward depth or league-leading offensive numbers from their d group? Which scenario is more sustainable? I'm not asking as if I know the answer. This is the ultimate question for Colorado this year.

I understand that Toews is a great defender, and replacing him will be difficult. Still, my rebuttal is, don't we all want Bo Byram to be Makar's D partner inevitably anyhow, and shouldn't we get value in return for Toews outside of his AAV clearing at the end of the season?

Suppose the Avalanche stay put and ride this roster out and find post-season success. If so, success will be found in reclamation projects, centerman replacements producing beyond expectations, and a d group that is among the highest-scoring in the NHL. That will make Sakic and MacFarland look like gurus again, but it's almost impossible to repeatedly shove lighting into a bottle. Right?

What do you think of the current balance of Colorado's roster? Let me know in the comments.