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  • KNOW YOUR ENEMY: 2017-18 Central Division Preview -- Colorado Avalanche

    Giles Ferrell

    Colorado Avalanche
    Head Coach: Jared Bednar (second season with COL)
    Arena: Pepsi Center
    2016-17 Record: 22-56-4, 48 points (worst in NHL)
    2016-17 Record vs MIN: 2-2-0
    Top Scorer: Nathan MacKinnon (16 goals-37 assists-53 points)
    Top Goaltender: Calvin Pickard (15-31-2, 2.98 Goals Against Average, .904 Save Percentage, 2 Shutouts)

    2016-17 Recap:

    You can sum up Colorado's 2016-17 season in one word: yuck. Not only were the Avalanche bad last year, they were historically bad. Across the board this team was abysmal, and then it was followed up by getting the worst possible finish in the NHL Draft Lottery. So they couldn't even cash in with a top pick from being that bad. The saving grace for this team -- or at least the fans -- at the end of the year was that top players Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog were going to get sold off by General Manager Joe Sakic for picks/prospects to help build the future.

    Offseason Losses: F Mikhail Grigorenko, F John Mitchell, G Calvin Pickard, D Patrick Wiercioch, D Fedor Tyutin, and D Francois Beauchemin

    So about selling off Duchene and Landeskog. Well, Sakic has yet to do that. No one really knows what his objective was this summer. Sakic weirdly didn't try and save Calvin Pickard from the expansion draft. Mikhail Grigorenko said "I'm out of here" and went home to play in the KHL. Other guys like John Mitchell, Fedor Tyutin and Francois Beauchemin also departed for greener pastures. Most of these departures were expected, but the glaring omissions of Duchene and Landeskog still stand out.

    Offseason Additions: G Jonathan Bernier, F Nail Yakupov, and F Colin Wilson

    With Semyon Varlamov missing a big portion of last season, Sakic went out and signed Jonathan Bernier to a one-year deal to split time in goal. Colin Wilson was acquired from Nashville, as the Preds needed to clear out some cap space, and projects to get top-six minutes to open the year. Trying to reboot his career, Nail Yakupov signed a one-year deal after Edmonton did not extend him a qualifying offer this summer. Yakupov will get his chance to make good, as he will also get top-six minutes given the lack of depth up front on this team. Not bad additions, but one almost has to wonder why there weren't anymore.

    Projected Lines (via dailyfaceoff):

    Nail Yakupov-Matt Duchene-Nathan Mackinnon
    Gabe Landeskog-Tyson Jost-Colin Wilson
    Sven Andrighetto-JT Compher-Mikko Rantanen
    Matt Nieto-Carl Soderberg-Blake Comeau

    Nikita Zadorov-Erik Johnson
    Mark Barberio-Tyson Barrie
    Anton Lindholm-Chris Bigras

    Semyon Varlamov
    Jonathan Bernier

    2017-18 Outlook:

    Duchene is a dark cloud hanging over this team right now. He seems like a guy who was told he would be traded this summer, then that never materialized, and is a bit bitter about it. Sakic is still holding a big asking price for the center, but teams reportedly are still trying to get him in the fold for the beginning of the season. Besides the Duchene nonsense, this team did not make big moves this summer, and are still going to be bad. They might not be historically bad again -- let's see if the Vegas Golden Knights make a run at that claim -- but they are by far the worst team in the Central Division to open up the season.

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