Inside look at the Colorado Avalanche

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NHL.com provides in-depth roster analysis, outlook and fantasies for each of its 31 teams from November 16 through December 16. 16. Today, the Colorado Avalanche.

The Colorado Avalanche didn’t think much needed to be done to take it to the next level this season.“We were looking for a second row player, I think that’s the only thing we wanted to tackle, that and maybe a top four [defenseman] to help us, ”Avalanche Managing Director Joe Sakic said in October.

To approach these areas, the Avalanche has acquired in front Brandon Saad in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Nikita Zadorov October 10, and the defender Devon Toews in a trade with the New York Islanders for a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and the 2022 NHL Draft on October 12.

[Avalanche 31 IN 31: 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]

Saad, who has scored at least 20 goals in five of the past six seasons, including 21 last season, will consolidate a group of forwards who have leaned heavily on the front row of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

MacKinnon, who scored 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) in 69 games last season, finished second in the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player for the second time in three seasons, despite having played a good chunk of the season without Rantanen, who was limited to 42 games due to injury.

After MacKinnon, there was a drop in scores. Defender Cale Makar was second with 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games, and the forward André Burakovsky was third with a career-high 45 NHL points (20 goals, 25 assists) in 58 games.

Sakic has said he expects the addition of Saad to give the Avalanche more balance following their loss to the Dallas Stars in seven games in the Western Conference second round.

“We are extremely happy to have Brandon with us,” said Sakic. “He’s a guy, we’ve watched him for years and think he’s going to be a great pick in our top six. We feel like we’ve solidified our top six squad, as well as our bottom six, so we’re pretty happy with the depth we have up front. ”

Saad said the opportunity to be the missing piece for a team on the brink of a Stanley Cup championship was exciting.

“I loved my stay in Chicago. It’s a great city and a great organization, but we weren’t really Cup contenders, ”Saad said. “Being traded for a team that you play against every year and you’re like, ‘Wow, this team has a chance to win every year,’ and now being on that team is really a rejuvenation. ”

Video: Saad traded to Avs on four-player deal with Hawks

Toews, who scored 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 68 games last season, is expected to replace Zadorov and join defenseman Makar, who won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year last season. . Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, Erik Johnson and Ian Cole. Top prospects Conor Timmins and Bowen Byram are also in the mix.

Timmins, who was selected in the second round (32nd) of the 2017 NHL Draft, scored 27 points (three goals, 24 assists) in 40 games for Colorado in the American Hockey League and made two playoff games for the ‘Avalanche. Byram, the 4th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, scored 52 points (14 goals, 38 assists) in 50 games with Vancouver of the Western Hockey League.

“We are always looking to improve. It will never stop, ”Sakic said. “We felt we were going to try to add there too for depth purposes. We’ve seen enough of Conor, we know he’s ready to maybe take the next step. Byram, we will give every opportunity. But knowing also we don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them either. We want them to arrive slowly and at their own pace. ”

One of the reasons the Avalanche can be patient with their best prospects is the depth of their list.

Burakovsky just finished a season when he set career highs in the NHL in goals (20) and assists (25), and forward Valery Nichushkin scored 13 goals after scoring none in 57 games for Dallas in 2018-19. Graves, playing his first full season in the NHL, led the league with a plus-40 rating.

“You have to have depth to win. We have solved this problem, ”said Sakic. “… We are trying to build as deep a team as possible to try to race this year.



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