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It’s a pretty serious accusation to accuse a team of purposely tanking to obtain a high draft pick, but I can’t think of another word I would use to describe what Colorado did last year.
The Brian Elliott-Craig Anderson trade last year made no sense on either end. Both men were unrestricted free agents, but Elliot was AHL bound and only in Ottawa based on dire necessity. Anderson was a good goalie who has almost single-handedly carried the Avalanche to the postseason a year before and almost carried the overachievers to the second round of the playoffs.
Colorado received no draft picks, prospects, or future considerations for Anderson. It was a clean one-for-one deal. What makes this even mores suspect was that Colorado did this trade during what was the worst second half any NHL team in the league had that year. The Avalanche were downright brutal.
Colorado shipped off up-and-coming power forward Chris Stewart and offensive defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for former first-overall pick Erik Johnson. Many consider Johnson a bust, even this early in his career. If you do, you won’t see me put up an argument. Paul Stastny’s father, Peter, publicly criticized the organization in not such nice words.
Gone are the days of the great Detroit-Colorado rivalries. Gone are Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. There’s not to much to look forward to in Colorado, unless you’re a fan of following young players and stars in the making. (If that’s the case, you’ve probably taken a casual interest in Matt Duchene.)
Other than Duchene, the future looks kind of grim for the Avalanche. You will probably follow this year’s No. 2 overall pick Gabriel Landeskog, who will need to produce right now. Without even playing a game in the NHL, he seems to be one of the leading candidates to be the future captain of the Avs.
After trading their first- and second-round picks to Washington for goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who is among the worst in the league at conditioning himself to avoid injury, the Avalanche will not be able to continue their rebuild through the draft should they falter, and falter they shall.
Prediction: 15th in the west, 30th overall