Colorado Avalanche: 2.8 Percent Chance to Make Run at Stanley Cup
According to Sports Club Stats, the Avs still have a 2.8 percent chance of making the playoffs, and while the odds are certainly not great, many "experts" picked the Avs to finish among the bottom in the NHL.
So the fact they are still in the playoff hunt going into game 81 is a win in and of itself. And although a 2.8-percent chance isn't great, Colorado is still alive nonetheless.
In order to make the playoffs, the Avalanche must beat the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight and Nashville on Saturday. Both wins must come in regulation or overtime (the Avs cannot afford to go into a shootout because of the tiebreaker rules).
The Avs also need the San Jose Sharks to lose both of their remaining games to the Los Angeles Kings. They play in L.A. tonight and San Jose on Saturday. If the Sharks earn a point, the Avs will be eliminated.
Finally, the Dallas Stars need to lose either tonight in Nashville or Saturday in St. Louis.
Simple enough, right?
Here's a look at some other odds affecting the future of the Colorado Avalanche.
Odds Captain Milan Hejduk Calls It a Career
Milan Hejduk has had a tremendous career with the Colorado Avalanche.
He has a Stanley Cup, Rocket Richard Trophy and three All-Star appearances on his resume, and to date, he is the best player to wear only an Avalanche uniform for his entire NHL career. This of course excludes Joe Sakic, as his career began in Quebec.
Nonetheless, "Father Time" has seemingly caught up to Hejduk and is experiencing the worst offensive output of his career.
His offensive decline seems to indicate that this may be the end of the line for only the third captain in Avalanche history, but if he has a resurgent summer, Hejy may be back.
If Hejduk plays the Avs' remaining two games this season, he will be just nine shy of 1,000 in his NHL career.
This would certainly be a nice milestone, but he will not return just for this personal milestone. A true professional, Milan Hejduk will do what he feels is best for the Avalanche organization.
Odd of the Next Avalanche Captain If Hejduk Retires
Ryan O'Reilly or Gabriel Landeskog — 30%
Erik Johnson — 25%
Paul Stastny — 20%
Matt Duchene — 10%
Jay McClement — 3%
Joe Sakic wore the captain's "C" for many years. He was the captain when the team moved to Colorado in 1995 and held the honor until his retirement in 2009.
Adam Foote and Milan Hejduk both received the captaincy later in their careers, so their tenures will certainly be shorter.
Once Hejduk hangs 'em up, it is almost inevitable that the next captain will have the opportunity to wear the "C" on his jersey for many years to come.
Ryan O'Reilly has had a breakout season offensively and has been one of the Avs' best and most consistent players this season. His work ethic is second to none, and he has already proven to be an invaluable leader in just three short NHL seasons.
Gabriel Landeskog is a lot like O'Reilly, but at the age of 19, the rookie lacks the experience.
Both Factor and Landy possess the leadership qualities and have been the Avs' best players all season long. Either youngster would make an excellent captain.
While Erik Johnson's play throughout the second half of this season has quieted his critics, EJ is still one step away from becoming an elite NHL defenseman. He certainly wouldn't be a bad choice but still needs a chance to evolve his on-ice game.
Paul Stastny was once thought to be the next Avalanche great.
He's been an alternate captain for several years and is currently the only permanent one on the Avs roster. His production over the past two seasons is not what fans hoped for, and he is often criticized for not playing like the $6.6 million he is making.
Matt Duchene has had a disappointing year due to knee and ankle injuries. He is still the most offensively gifted player on this team and can certainly reemerge.
Odds the Avs Sign a Big Free Agent During the Offseason
Zach Parise, Alex Semin and Ryan Suter are among the big names set to be free agents this summer.
While any one of them would be a great addition to the young, up-and-coming Avalanche team, chances are that Avs' management will stick to their current "build from within" model and not make a huge splash in free agency.
With that said, word is that the focus this summer will be forwards, as the defense and goaltending was successfully revamped last summer.
Zach Parise - 20 percent. Parise would be fantastic in an Avalanche uniform. He is the incumbent captain of the New Jersey Devils and would bring leadership. He would also be a great fit on the left wing of a Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny.
Alex Semin - 10 percent. Semin is extremely talented and a very capable scorer. The one downside is he has the reputation of being a selfish player and may quit on the team at times. Although, his skill may be worth that risk.
Ryan Suter - 5 percent. The Avs brass feels like they have their defensive core in place with Erik Johnson and up-and-coming prospects Stefan Elliott, Tyson Barrie and Duncan Siemens. But if the Avs are able to add a top defenseman like Suter, they'd be foolish to pass up the opportunity.
Free agent goalie - 1 percent. Considering both Varlamov and Giguere should be back next year, it seems unlikely.
Odds Joe Sacco Will Make It Through the 2012-2013 Season
Early word is that Joe Sacco will receive a contract extension at the conclusion of this season.
However, no NHL coach's job is safe, and if the Avs get off to a slow start or falter next season, Sacco could be out in the blink of an eye. The Avs are a promising, young team, but it's only a matter of time before expectations rise.
Odds the Avs Make the Playoffs in 2013
Ok, that may be a bit high.
But regardless of how this season ends, the Avs have the right group of young, talented players in place to continue to improve and build a solid foundation. If Colorado sticks with the plan, Duchene, Landeskog, O'Reilly, Johnson, and Varlamov will emerge as well.
The 97.2 percent is the reverse of the current 2.8 percent by the way. But with a little work, the Avs could emerge as a contender next season, and maybe something like 66 percent would be more realistic.