2008/09: 32-45-5 – 69 pts (5th in Northwest, 15th in West)
Arrived: Tom Preissing (LA), Kyle Quincey (LA), Craig Anderson (FLA), David Koci (TAM)
Departed: Joe Sakic (Retired), Ryan Smyth (LA), Andrew Raycroft (VAN), Ben Guite (NSH), Tyler Arnason (NYR), Ian Laperierre (PHI)
I am not going to lie; it felt very good to see Colorado buried in last place in the West by 10 points last season. This year does not look to be any better as the team somehow managed to get worse. They lost the face of their franchise when captain Joe Sakic retired, several key role players departed via free agency, and ALL THREE of their players who actually managed to achieve a positive plus minus are gone. Craig Anderson joins the yearly carousel of Avalanche goaltenders, and I doubt a 28 year old with 88 career starts is going to be the answer. They are also going to be playing under a rookie coach as former NHL grinder (read: plug) Joe Sacco replaced Tony Granato behind the bench. However, they did manage to shed Ryan Smyth and his burdensome contract in exchange for two quality defenceman. 2009 3rd overall draft pick Matt Duchene is a bright spot for the future, but expect another last place finish for the Avs. Not even a successful Peter Forsberg comeback could save them this year.
FANTASY WORTHY FORWARDS
Paul Stastny (C) – The son of NHL Hall of Famer Peter Stastny is the only legitimate fantasy forward on the Avalanche, but his value will be hurt by the loss of Smyth. With a pair of real first line wingers, he could be a 90 point player. However, he will probably be playing with Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk so I would not count on him for more than 70 points.
Keep an eye on: Wojtek Wolski, Milan Hejduk, Marek Svatos
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN
Kyle Quincey – Quincey finally broke into the NHL last year with the Kings, scoring 38 points, 27 of which were on the powerplay. His offence will be sorely needed, but I would not count on him in Colorado. He will be a number four fantasy defenceman at best.
Tom Preissing – Preissing is a guy who plays well on good teams and terrible on bad teams. In 154 games with San Jose and Ottawa from 2005-07, he scored 81 points and was +57. After moving to LA, he played in 99 games, accumulating 31 points and a -13 rating. The Avalanche are a bad team so I would not expect much from Preissing.
John-Michael Liles – Even though he was Colorado’s top scoring defenceman last year, Liles is a stretch as a legitimate fantasy player. While his 39 points are solid, his -19 rating and 31 penalty minutes leave much to be desired.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Craig Anderson – Anderson had an excellent year in Florida in 2008-09, winning 15 games and posting a .924 SV% in 31 games while splitting time with Tomas Vokoun. Any goalie who is slated to play more than 50 games is worthy of a roster spot, but if you count on Anderson to be anything more than a third goalie you are in trouble.
Keep an eye on: Peter Budaj
Bonus: The 2009-10 Avs only have six players who scored more than 21 points last year.
Bonus #2: A Google Image search for Tom Preissing yielded more pictures of Ryan Smyth than Preissing.