Chambers: Avalanche enters slow season with fulfilled check marks

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The NHL offseason has begun and, notwithstanding the imaginable extent signing oregon trade, the Avalanche is up against the $81.5 cardinal wage headdress and appears acceptable to springiness it different Stanley Cup-or-bust run.

Until grooming campy begins astir Sept. 20, the biggest Avalanche quality volition astir apt beryllium what Joe Sakic says astatine his yearly mid-August foundation play tourney astatine Sanctuary Golf Course successful Sedalia.

The Avs’ wide manager has spent the past 2 weeks drafting for the future, doling retired immense contracts for star defenseman Cale Makar and left helping Gabe Landeskog, and reshaping a roster beneath its core.

The loop was importantly tightened and bully players they could nary longer spend volition play elsewhere successful 2021-22. But aft the Avs became overmuch much costly wrong the halfway and overmuch cheaper successful extent roles, they inactive mightiness beryllium conscionable arsenic good. They could inactive triumph the Presidents’ Trophy for the 2nd consecutive year.

Losing goalie Philipp Grubauer successful escaped bureau to the enlargement Seattle Kraken is surely considered a halfway loss, but the trade for 6-foot-5 goalie Darcy Kuemper from Arizona undoubtedly plugged that spread nicely.

For me, the plug is an upgrade from Grubauer — who is generously listed astatine 6-1 — due to the fact that Kuemper is conscionable arsenic talented, takes up much of the nett and costs little against the wage cap.

Grubauer played down the NHL’s stingiest antiaircraft squad this past season. The Avs gave up a league-low 25.4 shots-against mean — a nonstop effect wherefore Grubauer led the NHL with a 1.95 goals-against average. If Colorado is likewise arsenic stingy successful allowing shots adjacent season, I’m betting Kuemper’s GAA volition besides beryllium nether 2.00.

The happening is, Kuemper is not signed beyond this play and the 2021-22 Avs volition not diagnostic fractional of what became 20 regulars from past season. In fact, 8 players who were connected the 20-man opening-night roster Jan. 13 are gone, and Colorado besides won’t person 8 players from its season-ending Game 6 nonaccomplishment astatine Vegas connected June 10.

Six of those players were connected some of those lineups — Grubauer, Brandon Saad, Joonas Donskoi, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Graves and Conor Timmins. And 4 others were connected 1 of them — Matt Calvert and Ian Cole connected opening nighttime and Patrik Nemeth and Devan Dubnyk successful the elimination game.

So who knows if Colorado volition bounds shots-against arsenic efficaciously arsenic it did past season?

But retaining the halfway of forwards and defensemen suggests that it could — that it remains successful that winning model and is again the offseason favourite to triumph the Stanley Cup.

The cardinal question is adequately replacing wingers Saad and Donskoi, the Avs’ eighth and 10th-leading scorers past season, respectively, and fourth-line halfway Bellemare. Saad and Donskoi some played top-six roles astatine times and some contributed connected the powerfulness play — Donskoi connected the archetypal unit.

Rookie Alex Newhook volition apt measurement successful for Saad astatine near helping and close winger Logan O’Connor volition beryllium backmost aft missing overmuch of past play with a limb injury. And young Russian Mikhail Maltsev, who was acquired from New Jersey for Graves, is successful enactment to measurement successful for Bellemare.

Those 3 young players volition harvester for a $2.4 cardinal headdress deed adjacent season. Saad, Donskoi and Bellemare, meanwhile, person a combined headdress deed of $9.4 million.

So that $7 cardinal savings was required to provender the costly halfway — to support it intact earlier this model to triumph closes — and inactive beryllium astir $3 cardinal nether the headdress for exigency use.

Sakic and his unit person done a bully occupation implicit the past 2 weeks. Now it’s clip to golf.

Footnote. The Avs signed minor-league defenseman Jordan Gross 2 a one-year, two-way declaration Saturday. For a implicit look astatine the club’s caller additions and subtractions, click here. 

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