Colorado Avalanche Off-Season
The Colorado Avalanche off-season will be must see TV. It’s put up or shut up time for the Av’s. Photo: Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche 2021 Off-Season Will Be Must See TV

It’s been almost a week and depending on how you look at it either Scott’s curse worked, if you believe in that dimwitted shit, or the Colorado Avalanche just weren’t quite good enough. I’m leaning towards the latter. The Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Colorado Avalanche from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs last Thursday night and immediately the question became ‘if not now then when?’ for the Colorado Avalanche. Let’s face it, it’s not like the talent wasn’t there for Jared Bednar’s team, which makes this Colorado Avalanche off-season interesting.

This team is stacked with a capital ‘S’ and while losing an experienced leader like Erik Johnson for the whole season wasn’t ideal there was still more than enough talent to win. They just came up against a determined Vegas team who would not say die, even at 2-0 down. It happens. As Brian Burke said “there’s only one Stanley Cup” and this wasn’t to be the Colorado Avalanche’s year.

Let’s get one thing straight though, since social media exploded after their exit, the Avalanche are not the Maple Leafs. Despite what some Denver media might think they are not choke artists. While the Maple Leafs lost to the worst team in the playoffs, the Avalanche lost to a Vegas team they beat to the President’s Trophy on a tiebreaker.

That doesn’t change the fact it’s now going on three years where a second-round exit has been their downfall and this time there are no excuses. They weren’t down to their third-string goaltender or missing their captain. You could say players were banged up but what team playing in the Playoffs isn’t?

Vegas Golden Knights were just better and wanted it that little bit more. Now comes the Colorado Avalanche off-season and boy will it be an eventful one. Firstly, you’ll have the 2021 NHL Draft like normal. The Avalanche has only three picks so don’t expect to see a ton of them during the draft weekend.

Then there is also the expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken before returning to their normal divisions (hopefully) for next season. General Manager, Joe Sakic, has a lot to consider as he plans for next season and a deeper playoff run. And that’s where this playoff series against the Golden Knights will help the Colorado Avalanche GM going forward. 

After a fantastic game two and three, Philipp Grubauer failed to post an above .900SV% in any of the remaining three games, including a horrendous .775SV% in game six. There is no doubt Grubauer is one of the best goaltenders in the league (he’s not getting a Vezina nomination for nothing) but his playoff performances this year, as well as missing most of last year’s playoffs, should be taken into account when negotiating his contract this off-season.

As for defense, Cale Makar on a bridge deal wouldn’t be the worst idea. There is talk from Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts blog that both team and player are looking for term, which would make the Colorado Avalanche off-season a whole lot more interesting. Given your top four defensemen are set for next season you beg the Seattle Kraken to take Ryan Graves off your hands (he led the league in plus-minus in the 2019/20 season incase you didn’t know). You also hope Patrick Nemeth says bye-bye for the second and last time while rumors are circulating that Erik Johnson will waive his no-move clause so the Avalanche can protect Makar, Devon Toews, and Sam Girard in the expansion draft. Those three, along with a fit Johnson, a developing Bowen Byram, and a steady Conor Timmins I am convinced are a good enough top six to win you a cup.

The forward core is a little different. You’re hoping Gabriel Landeskog follows Nathan MacKinnon’s lead and takes less to keep the top line together. You’re not losing your captain either way, but it would be ideal if his contract gave you room to add depth. That will be needed as it is unlikely Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, Matt Calvert, and Carl Soderberg return for next season. The longer you can leave the Landeskog extension might also help in the expansion draft as you do whatever it takes to protect Tyson Jost given the season he had. It would also be nice to keep Brandon Saad but let’s face it, the flat salary cap means that’s highly unlikely.

And that’s where the last few years of drafting will have to pay dividends. Alex Newhook and Sampo Ranta both played minutes in the playoffs and will look to add to their growing resume next season, while it may be now or never for Martin Kaut. All three players will be needed to play depth forward roles next season. Also don’t be surprised if you see Jean-Luc Foudy making the team out of camp, while defenseman Justin Barron’s NHL debut could all depend on the fitness of Erik Johnson. A full season with the Colorado Eagles would be preferred but the cap situation may have other ideas.

It’s going to be an interesting off-season as Joe Sakic looks to work some magic. After picking up Devon Toews for a couple of second round picks last off-season, the faith will be there he can repeat this go round. There’s always next year as star center Nathan MacKinnon said after the Vegas defeat. However, at some point, you have to stop saying the Avalanche just aren’t ready yet. They are as ready as they’ll ever be. Now it’s time to put up or shut up.

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