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Season 5 Preview - Colorado Avalanche Written by habsfan93 - November 30th, -0001

Its been a long road for the Avalanche since winning the Cup in the inaugural CMHL season. There woes can be directly linked to the departure of Moll as GM of the club. However, after some unsuccessful kicks at the can from eluzion73 and avalanchegm, it appears that the club has found a stable presence in sentinel20. While not all may agree with his vision, he dramatically turned the team around last year, taking them to the 9th spot in the West, and almost playing spoiler to a team in the Western playoff race. He’ll look to take that momentum into Season 5 and make the playoffs for the first time in 3 seasons. Sentinel20 oversaw a major overhaul this summer, letting go of his top 9 scorers and both his goalies. The new crew rewarded him with a 0-9-1 record in the preseason. Is trouble brewing in the mountains?


The Colorado offense rests on the shoulders of one line, that of Patrice Bergeron, Dustin Penner, and Alex Kovalev. Bergeron had a breakout year in Season 4, almost doubling his previous outputs in every major offensive statistical category. He is the undisputed future of this team and now is his time to shine. Dustin Penner was brought in after putting up very respectable numbers in his rookie campaign, similar to pre-season 4 Bergeron numbers. Look for him to break out just like Bergeron did last year with LA. Providing veteran leadership to the line will be shifty playmaker Alex Kovalev, who has never scored less than 70 points in a CMHL season.

Behind them, things don’t look so good. Travis Zajac lit up the ICHF last year winning the Rocket Richard Trophy and will be looking to make his mark as a rookie in the CMHL, but it’s too early to tell if this will be his year. He had a good preseason though, making the outlook a little bit easier to swallow. The Avalanche traded highly touted prospect Sam Gagner in order to get their hands on Andrew Ladd, who shone in the playoffs last year on his way to a cup win with the Islanders. Will he be able to keep that momentum going into this season? Backing up these two rookies are stable presences such as Chris Gratton, Derek Armstrong, Ryan Malone and Shean Donovan.


The defense is another question mark for the Avalanche. Veteran Wade Redden was acquired in the offseason and he’ll bring his brand of dirty hockey to the mountains. Redden tallied 370 PIM last season and he’ll need to lay off because the Avs are counting on him for ice time. Nick Boynton will line up next to him in what is a solid first pairing as long as they are on the ice. Behind these two, Mark Fistric really represents the near future of the defense. This could be the year he shows what he’s made of. Veterans Rhett Warrener, Andrew Alberts and Aaron Ward round out the top 6.


Robert Esche out, Martin Biron in. While no one will question that Robert Esche has a much better track record in the CMHL, rumours were swirling in the offseason that this was to be his last in the CMHL. This move only further fuelled those rumours as Esche was sent packing and Martin Biron was brought in to provide some longer-term stability in net. Biron is one of those players with all the potential who has yet to truly show it. In four seasons as a starter, he hasn’t had a winning record since Season 1. This will be his opportunity to show his critics what he’s made of. Jocelyn Thibault will back him up and should be good for 20-30 games of respectable play.


The cupboards in Colorado are stocked with plenty of goodies, most of which have long expiry dates. Colorado made 4 1st round selections in 2008, bringing in 4 high quality prospects to the system, including the 4th Staal brother, who was a surprise selection at #25. The Avs then had 3 more picks in each of the 2nd and 3rd rounds, to go along with 13 picks in the last 4 rounds. To say the least, the cupboard has been restocked in a big way, exactly as you’d expect from a rebuilding team.


Colorado is not expected to make the playoffs – no need to beat around that bush. They could be a longshot to surprise some teams and nab a late spot, but GM’s around the league are widely expecting the Avs to finish near the bottom of the West. This will help them get some good picks in the deep 2009 draft if they manage properly which can then launch their rebuild to a new moon.

Quick Hits

Best Bargain: Patrice Bergeron – Bergeron is a star but he’s not being paid like one. This year is a free agency year, he could get booted out of this category quickly next summer.
Overpaid: Rhett Warrener – Getting paid about 1.5 million too much to play bottom 3 defence, don’t be surprised if the Avs let him walk next summer as a UFA.
Breakout Player: Travis Zajac – Is this the year that Zajac becomes a CMHL star? He’ll certainly be given the opportunity.
Overrated: Chris Gratton – Aging centre has never scored more than 17 goals or 45 points, takes bad penalties and has below average defence for a 3rd liner.

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