Colorado Avalanche: 3 Realistic Goals for Colorado Before Opening Night

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIJune 29, 2012

Colorado Avalanche: 3 Realistic Goals for Colorado Before Opening Night

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    The NHL offseason is in full swing and the Colorado Avalanche have been relatively busy. Colorado has made some decent moves, but there is still a lot that needs to be done before October 11 at the Pepsi Center.

    General manager Greg Sherman has spent his last few weeks working on the NHL draft and negotiating to re-sign some of his players.

    The biggest news coming out of Colorado this offseason has been Joe Sakic and his future induction into the Hall of Fame, and Gabriel Landeskog taking home the Calder Trophy. But there’s plenty more.

    Colorado has signed Shane O’Brien, Ryan Wilson, Matt Duchene, Matt Hunwick, David Jones and Cody McLeod to new deals. They also drafted five prospects at the NHL draft, led by Mitchell Heard, who was selected No. 41 overall.

    Sherman still has his hands full before the season starts and needs to get a lot accomplished.

    Here are three realistic goals before the St. Louis Blues visit the Avs on opening night.

Re-Sign Remaining Impact Players

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    As I mentioned in the introduction slide, Colorado has done a solid job thus far in signing players from last year’s team. GM Greg Sherman does have a few more players to sign to contracts, though.

    Erik Johnson is one of the best defensemen that Colorado has and needs to be back next season. He led all defenders in assists and points last season and also played well defensively. At only 24 years old, Johnson could be one of the leaders for the Avs for many years to come.

    Steve Downie was acquired midseason from Tampa Bay and will hopefully be back next season. He played much better for the Avs than he did with the Lightning.

    In 55 games with the Lightning, Downie had 28 points and registered a minus-15 plus-minus rating. In 20 games with the Avs, Downie had 13 points with a plus-nine plus-minus rating. Colorado would really benefit from bringing him back.

    Ryan O’Reilly is arguably the best forward on Colorado. He led all Avs in assists and points this past season and played on the first line for the majority of the time. He is major factor for the future success of this team. At only 21 years old, he can easily be built around.

    Jamie McGinn was another midseason acquisition who played relatively well during his short time with Colorado. He scored eight times and had five assists in 17 games for the Avs and is also very young—just 23 years old.

    Other than these four players, Sherman could really just call some players up from Lake Erie or replace them through free agency or trades.

Make Sure Stefan Elliott Will Be on the Ice

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    Stefan Elliott is the future of the Colorado Avalanche. Getting his first shot in the NHL last season, Elliott had 13 points in 39 games.

    Elliott isn’t the biggest defenseman that you’ll find on the ice, but he’s very smart and won’t let that factor work against him.

    He is a great offensive defenseman who needs to be on the active roster at the start of next season. Along with Duncan Siemens, Colorado has two very good defensive prospects in their system.

    Going into camp, Elliott should give Tyson Barrie a run for his money for a spot on the roster.

    He could easily overtake a spot on the third defensive pairing, which would favor Colorado next season. Elliott has proven that he has out-grown his AHL clothes and needs to be upgraded to a full-time NHL jersey.

    Bringing him up and getting him experience will continue to develop the young superstar.

Sign a Big-Name Free Agent

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    The Colorado Avalanche have money in the bank. They have more than $32 million in cap space according to So there’s no reason why they can’t go out and get an impact free agent.

    There is a lot of talent in the free-agent class that could cross the mind of Sherman, according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post.

    Some of the names that Dater lists include Ray Whitney, Dustin Penner, Ryan Smyth and Jiri Hudler. He notes that Zach Parise would be a long shot, as would Alexander Semin, but Colorado has the ability to go out and get somebody.

    Signing any big-name free agent would be a drastic improvement to the roster. Even with the salary cap possibly decreasing—which could create an issue if Colorado came close to it—Colorado shouldn’t fear the worst. Instead, the Avs should do what they need to do and worry about what could happen afterwards.

    Whether it be on offense or defense, Colorado could become a playoff contender with the right addition. Please, Greg Sherman, bring somebody good to Colorado for next season. You won’t regret it.