We are 22 days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the Colorado Avalanche.
|Joe Colborne – C – (from CGY)||Mikkel Boedker – LW – (to SJS)|
|Rocco Grimaldi – C – (from FLA)||Shawn Matthias – C – (to WPG)|
|Fedor Tyutin – D – (from CBJ)||Reto Berra – G – (to FLA)|
|Patrick Wiercioch – D – (from OTT)||Nick Holden – D – (to NYR)|
|Mike Sislo – RW – (from NJD)||Nate Guenin – D – (to ANA)|
In Colorado’s first year under head coach Patrick Roy, they won 52 games and made the playoffs. That was as good as it would get in the Roy era. In two years since, the Avalanche went 78-70-16 for 172 points (23rd in the NHL) while being tied for 23rd in goals for (2.57) and 23rd in goals against (2.82). This summer Roy stepped down from his role and the Avalanche named Jared Bednar as their new head coach. Last year, Bednar was the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL). He led the Monsters to a 15-2 record in the AHL playoffs to capture the Calder Cup.
Bender inherits a talented group of young forwards that is led by captain Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon. Under Bednar, the Avalanche are expected to play a more modern style of hockey, which should help their young forwards turn into the elite forwards they were expected to become early in their careers. The most curious case has been MacKinnon. The 21-year-old centre turned winger had a great rookie campaign but has struggled in his last two seasons. The 2013 No.1 overall pick has looked excellent for Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey which lends a tonne of hope for MacKinnon and the Avalanche heading into 2016-17. The rest of the Avalanche forward group consists of a mix of veterans and youthful talent. Jarome Iginla is not the player he was a few years ago, but will be chasing down his boss, Joe Sakic, for 15th on the All-Time goal scorers list. Iginla enters the season 14 goals behind Sakic and if he can somehow put together a 30-goal season at 39-years-old, he will pass Dave Andreychuk for 14th. Some of their young forwards are Joe Colborne, who is coming off of a career-year in Calgary, Mikhail Grigorenko who continues to search for his way in the NHL and Mikko Rantanen, who was the No.10 pick in 2015 and developed into a high-end playmaker in the AHL last season and should be on the opening night roster.
The Avalanche’s blueline is led offensively by Tyson Barrie, but their top pairing will consist of Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson, who ranked first (Beauchemin) and fifth (Johnson) in the NHL in blocks last season. A lot of that speaks to the Avalanche being one of the worst possession teams under Roy. Veteran Fedor Tyutin was brought in from Columbus and young defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Eric Gelinas are expected to round-out the group. Zadorov is still viewed as a raw prospect, but his immense six-foot-five frame projects a tonne of two-way upside for the Russian defenseman. Gelinas also carries fantasy upside because of his huge point-shot, but he needs to carve out a larger role in order to put up big numbers.
In goal, the Avalanche have a quality tandem in Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard. Over the last three years, Varlamov has averaged 58 starts while ranking eighth in the NHL in wins (96), save percentage (.921) and tied for 29th in goals against average (2.58). Despite the quality numbers, Varlamov is coming off of a tough season, which leaves the door open for Pickard to steal some more starts for himself this season. The 24-year-old netminder has gone 13-13-4 with a 2.46 GAA and .927 SV% in 26 career NHL starts and 10 relief appearances—numbers that give him a lot of upside entering 2016-17.
Overall, the departure of Roy and the development of their young talent should help the Avalanche improve on their 39 wins from last season.
Avalanche in the DFO Top 275:
- 51. Matt Duchene – C
- 53. Gabriel Landeskog – LW
- 54. Tyson Barrie – D
- 69. Nathan MacKinnon – RW
- 84. Semyon Varlamov – G
- 164. Carl Soderberg – C
- 204. Jarome Iginla – RW
- 246. Mikko Rantanen – RW
- 268. Erik Johnson – D
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Avalanche will improve on last year’s win total and make a push for a playoff spot. Colorado will land the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.