When the Colorado Avalanche made the playoffs two seasons ago, it was thought by many that things had turned around in the Mile High City. Clearly, that was not the case.
The Colorado Avalanche ended up with another lottery pick in this past draft and picked up Gabriel Landeskog with the second overall pick.
Things are looking up once again for a team that has struggled to have any consistency since Joe Sakic left. Here's my predictions.
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In my opinion, the most NHL ready forward, one could make an argument that either he or Adam Larsson is the most NHL ready player, Gabriel Landeskog is sure to make an impact on the Colorado Avalanche.
With either Matt Duchene of Paul Stastny feeding him the puck, he is sure to put up solid numbers in his rookie campaign. Not only that, he's got the size that most young prospects lack.
The Colorado Avalanche picked up a gem when they drafted this guy. He could be the next big thing.
I believe that coming back to the West will help him excel. He has had success here, and I believe that will show.
On the other hand, Varlamov has played his entire career with one of the most potent offenses in front of him. I don't believe that he has what it takes to be a starting goaltender on a mediocre team.
This is still a really young team. I think a lot of people forget that they are relying on so many young players. The talent is there, for sure, but I don't think they are ready to make it into the top eight in the Western Conference.
That being said, they could surprise everyone as they did two years ago. Though I don't think so. Too many teams have improved for them to crawl into the top eight.
In his first full season with the Avalanche, Erik Johnson will show why he was drafted first overall in 2006 by the St. Louis Blues.
He has the size, strength and intelligence necessary to make him one of the more feared blue-liners in the Western Conference.
I believe that Joe Sacco will help turn him around and that the Avalanche could be the perfect team for the young blueliner.
Attendance at the Pepsi Center in recent years hasn't been great. After the glory days with players like Sakic, Forsberg, Drury, Tanguay and many more, fans stopped showing up as they did in those years.
Finally, excitement is surrounding the team once again. In talking to fans, you can tell that there is anticipation with this team. People want to know what these young guys can accomplish. It's great to see for a franchise that has always had a strong following.
The Colorado Avalanche will have a great divisional record. They will be tough to play against boasting some great forwards and a nice goaltending tandem.
Look for them to give other teams in the division a good run for their money. However, the Avalanche will not be able to keep up with teams outside the Northwest. Teams like the Blue Jackets, Kings and Sharks have all gotten better making it hard to move up in the standings.
This is probably the boldest prediction on the list, but I do believe that it's possible. He's young, skilled and he's got some great wingers.
There is a chance that Duchene could get to that famed point-per-game total. It would be great to see as he is probably the player who has fared best since the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
TSN recently released its re-draft and placed Duchene first.
He's a great fit in Toronto, I don't have any doubts about that. However, I don't think that his loss will be felt throughout the Colorado lineup.
With the emergence of Erik Johnson as an offensive, defensive and physical blue-liner, John-Michael Liles is not going to be missed near as much as many think.
This team has a blue-line that will be solid but unspectacular.
There aren't many teams that make the playoffs with only one player eclipsing the 60-point mark. While I don't believe that the Avalanche will make the postseason, I do believe they will have more than one player pass that magic total.
Whether it be Stastny, Duchene, Jones or even Landeskog, the Avalanche have positioned themselves to have a powerful offense for years to come.
With the improved goaltending of the Colorado Avalanche this coming season, the team will have more plus players than minus players.
This past year, it was almost embarrassing how many minus players they had. That will not be the case anymore. Solid defense and goaltending will become the trademark of this team.