Chambers: Avalanche must alter high-flying identity by upgrading physicality in free agency

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The NHL is present defined by velocity and skill, but dense hard-hitting forwards and large shutdown defensemen are inactive vital. The Avalanche isn’t pugnacious enough, and it should code that interest successful escaped bureau Wednesday — peculiarly if it fails to re-sign powerfulness guardant Gabe Landeskog.

The Avs, who besides request to re-sign goalie Philipp Grubauer oregon his replacement, indispensable adhd much grit to their highly skilled halfway to debar the partition they deed successful the playoffs, erstwhile they finished 0-4 aft a 6-0 start. Colorado, the latest President’s Trophy victor to fizzle retired successful the postseason, indispensable change its high-flying individuality by upgrading its physicality.

On Tuesday, the Avs got an aboriginal commencement astatine addressing their superior needs. They acquired hulking shutdown defenseman Kurtis MacDermid, who is 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds, from the enlargement Seattle Kraken for a 2023 fourth-round draught pick.

MacDermid, 27, was selected by the Kraken from the Los Angeles Kings successful past week’s enlargement draft. He played successful 28 games for the Kings past play and produced 2 goals. He’s seen constricted enactment successful 4 NHL seasons with L.A., playing a career-high 45 games successful 2019-20.

Undrafted, MacDermid is simply a low-risk experiment. He’s nether declaration done adjacent season, making $900,000 with an $875,000 headdress hit.

Adding MacDermid helps marque up for the nonaccomplishment of defenseman Ryan Graves, who was traded to New Jersey up of the enlargement draft. The Avs couldn’t support Graves (6-5, 220) from Seattle and they wanted to get thing for him.

It turned retired to beryllium a stellar move, arsenic they acquired 6-3 guardant Mikhail Maltsev — who could go Colorado’s fourth-line halfway — and a 2021 second-round draught prime (University of Denver defenseman Sean Behrens) from the Devils.

The Avalanche’s comparatively tiny defensemen nether declaration see the apical pairing of Cale Makar and Devon Toews, positive Sam Girard, Bo Byram and Jacob MacDonald. None of the supra are considered shutdown players, and lone MacDonald cracks 200 pounds.

Also, Erik Johnson (6-4, 225) could beryllium backmost aft playing conscionable 4 games past play and Conor Timmins and Dennis Gilbert received qualifying offers arsenic restricted escaped agents and should beryllium back. The apical signed prospects are Justin Barron, Nate Clurman and Keaton Middleton.

The large question astir the blue-line corps is the oft-injured Johnson, who appeared successful conscionable 4 games past play due to the fact that of COVID-19 and aggregate injuries. Johnson, 33, is making $6 cardinal annually done 2022-23 — a dense fiscal load if helium cannot contribute.

“It’s my content he’s going to beryllium healthy,” Avs wide manager Joe Sakic said of Johnson. “Talking to Erik, he’s moving retired existent hard and, arsenic of close now, his anticipation is to beryllium backmost and training, and skating connected time.”

Up front, the Avs’ astir carnal guardant past play was astir apt Landeskog, who tin motion elsewhere arsenic a escaped cause aft 10 a.m. Wednesday. Losing him would treble the club’s value connected getting tougher connected the forecheck and different areas of the ice.

Sakic, the first-ballot Hockey Hall of Famer, is each astir the skilled game. But helium besides recognizes the worth of a lower-paid guardant who creates clip and abstraction for his linemates due to the fact that of his physicality and deterrent quality. The aforesaid goes for that shutdown defenseman you bash not privation to deed successful the corner.

The Avs volition get tougher Wednesday. It volition go much hard if they neglect to re-sign Landeskog.

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