Hot August Nights: Colorado Avalanche

by J.R.

Neil+Diamond+-+Coming+To+AmericaThis week, III Communication presents “Hot August Nights.” At one minute past sundown local time we’ll be reviewing the off-seasons of each Conference III team using the songs of American legend Neil Diamond.

Tonight, our lone Mountain time entrant — the Colorado Avalanche.

As suggested by some-time contributor Anthrax Jones, Diamond’s rollicking rock tribute to a revival preacher — “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.”

Startin’ soft and slow, like a small earthquake and when he lets go, half the valley shakes

Obviously, the biggest news of the offseason for Colorado was the reunion of Patrick Roy — the Avs’ own Brother Love — and Joe Sakic in the front office. We wondered what we might expect from this development and when the Avs announced they would pass on hometowner Seth Jones, we got the kind of earthquake that shook way more than half the valley. The wild right hooks Patrick Roy is beloved for swinging on the ice are manifesting themselves in new ways off of it, creating a very compelling story in Denver.

Now you got yourself two good hands

Passing on Jones at the draft, the Avs instead took exciting forward Nathan MacKinnon. Already MacKinnon has settled into a wonderful relationship with Matt Duchene. Speaking of two good hands, the Avs extended Patrick Bordeleau and he uses his to punch people.

Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies

In addition to adding MacKinnon, the Avs seemed committed to locking-up that young core, extending Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. With Ryan O’Reilly, the young forwards on the mountain have the team looking to the future.

The Avs brought in Cory Sarich, presumably to help the defense, and Alex Tanguay in a trade with Calgary that continued this “get the band back together” theme that echoed through the off-season — building to the future and listening to the past.

But what of the past that’s still in Denver? Specifically, what of Paul Stastny? Mile High Hockey thinks that he’s the kind of piece who could be moved if the Avs are still lurking like a raccoon at the deadline:

However, even if he holds steady at his current rate, he gives the Avs some options. His trade return would likely be very solid and address some key issues with the team, so if we are still in the playoff hunt by the deadline, it could be just the thing to push us over the edge. On the other hand, if we can find a way to fit him into the roster long-term, a fair $5 mil cap hit frees up $1.6 mil vs his current deal while still guaranteeing the Avs his consistent scoring, versatility, and veteran presence. It’s a no-lose situation…. as long as a decision is made before free-agency begins next year. Losing someone like Paul Stastny to UFA would be a huge blow to the franchise.

Sits a ragged tent, where there ain’t no trees

So what to think of the newish Avs? There’s still plenty of concerns from a team that was the league’s worst in the short 2013 season (the blue line is still very concerning). With all the youth, the Avs are a team that will scare plenty of teams, but it will take a lot of good bounces for them to compete for the playoffs and the Avs have ridden those bounces before. The team may still be a few years away, but we’ll start to feel the impact of their new Brother Love…like a small earthquake.

Check back tomorrow at 7:59 Central as we review Dallas in the next edition of Hot August Nights