BR MAILBAG: THE FUTURE IS (MOSTLY) BRIGHT
A staff member at Burgundy Rainbow will periodically host a mailbag and answer questions on all Avalanche related topics from you, dear reader. Here is our second installment from NoNeedtoYelle.
This installment is mainly focused on how to take the Avs forward from the fledgling young team they are now to what we all hope will become a perennial NHL powerhouse. Thank you for your questions. Please feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section. I hope to make this even more of an interactive experience than it already is.
MikeatMHH – Have the Avs done enough this season to shed the LOLanche tag from last season?
This one is easy. Absolutely the answer to this question is yes. Anyone who thinks otherwise not only isn’t watching the games, but they probably haven’t even done a rudimentary check of the NHL scores and standings. Colorado is already 63% of the way to their season point total from last year and on their way to an 83-85 point pace. We have a Top 10 scorer in the entire NHL and the (tied) Top scoring defenseman as well. If you look a little closer you will see that there have been a few losing streaks, but there have also been some winning streaks (read more than 2 games) as well. The team has not quit fighting and they are progressing nicely through their troubles. Are they a playoff team? No, but there is no way you can label them as the Lolorado Laughalanche either.
yeti – Who do you realistically see moving at the TDL?
Barberio, Comeau, Bernier, Yakupov. I think we all know the names of the folks on our roster who could realistically move at the deadline. Are they a UFA to be? Check. Are they cheap? Check. Are they playing okay that a great team may want them as depth? Check. Great, you’re on the block son.
I think a sneaky option for someone to be traded at the deadline will be a younger player with more perceived talent than maybe they actually have. Maybe that’s a guy like Chris Bigras or AJ Greer? But If I’m the Avs and I’m looking to cash in on a player who may be playing over his head, I’d think long and hard about shopping Alexander Kerfoot. Listen, I love the guy, I think we all do, he’s taken every challenge given to him this year and done well with it. The fact that I’m mentioning his name here is a testament to how well he has performed. But if you step back and look at a bigger picture we are talking about a smaller ish guy, a guy who we have next to nothing invested in, and the return on investment could be huge. The move would be shrewd no doubt, but it may be the move that a championship winning franchise considers.
PB&B – How we ideally fix the goalies depth chart midterm? what can we expect on this from the avs next summer? Wich season you see as the last one for Varly to dress as an Av?
This is quite the loaded set of questions here. If there is one thing that gives me pause for my optimism regarding the Avalanche moving forward it’s their goalie situation. Varly has not been good enough and neither has Bernier. Currently both are squarely average netminders.
How do we fix it this year? With prayers and well wishes. This is a building year, it doesn’t make any sense to make a move for a long term goalie acquisition. I think we just need to ride the wave and see what happens.
Now this is where is gets really tricky…how do we push forward? First off, I think we remain active in the ever average yet flush crop of UFA goalies. Be it Bernier or another goalie of his ilk this is probably the best way to have a viable backup. Varly may not be done, but I think he’s a far cry from the #1 goalie that we’ve seen glimpses of in the past. The problem: he’s signed at a decently hefty $5.9 million for the next two years. Given the glut of average goalies I just don’t see a team making a play for a UFA to be Varly this season or next. So Varly’s last season in Colorado will be the 2018/2019 season.
If I’m the Avs I’m not in a huge hurry to solve this conundrum. I’d attempt to solve this issue by making goalie a high priority at the NHL draft this year or next and also make a power play for a starting goalie after Varly’s money comes off the books.
Seraquel – Has Bednar made enough progress this season to keep his job? Is he the man to take the Avs back to the playoffs when the time comes?
For me, Jared Bednar makes it through this season no matter what. I think he’s done a solid enough job in the early stages of the season that we may see a situation where he sticks around for quite a long time. He has a couple things going in his favor: one, anything will look better compared to last season and two, the emergence of Nathan MacKinnon into a true superstar. In order for JB to get the axe during or at the end of this season I think we’d need to see last years level of futility in the 2018 portion of the season.
As for part 2 of your question, I just don’t know. He hasn’t done anything systems wise that makes him stand out as a great coach’s coach. His willingness to use 7D continues to perplex. In my opinion Bednar’s longevity as coach of the Colorado Avalanche and subsequent ability to take the team back to the playoffs, most importantly with a real shot to do damage, will be married to one key factor: How well will he be able to develop the bevy of talent that he has placed at his feet? He may succeed because of the players he’s been given more than anything he does on the white board, but he would still have a large fingerprint on the success of the team.
MikeatMHH – How would possible expansion to Seattle or Houston within the next two seasons affect the Avs?
For starters, I will reference the great CapFriendly.com right off the bat. If you’ve been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with this site I’d strongly suggest giving it a thorough review. It’s the best place to go if you want to look at how your team is set up to move forward. For the purposes of your question I am operating under the assumption that if expansion happens again that the rules will be the same from the Vegas Expansion Draft. The basic parameters are:
- You can protect either 7F, 3D, and 1 goalie or 8 skaters and 1 goalie.
- Players with No Movement Clauses must be protected
- 1st and 2nd year professionals as well as unsigned draftees do not have to be exposed
- You must expose 1D and 2F who are signed for the following season (40GP/70GP over 2 yrs)
- You must also expose 1G w/ pending RFA (qualifying offer must be made) or UFA rights.
Let’s say the expansion draft is to occur at the end of the 2018/2019 season, I’d argue that the Avalanche will be in a great position to withstand an expansion draft:
Let’s start with players who absolutely must be protected: MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Johnson, Barrie, Zadorov, and Goalie X. Then we move to players we would expect to be placing on that list: Compher, Jost, and Girard. That takes us to 5F, 4 D, and 1G. Yes, this is not an allowable scenario. More on that in a minute.
Let’s talk about who this would allow us to potentially expose: Soderberg, Greer, Kerfoot, Andrighetto, Bigras, maybe a Duncan Siemens is in the mix there too (though he would need to play a lot of games between now and then), and Spencer Martin meets the G requirement. The loss of these players would sting a little bit, but remember, it’s supposed to sting a little bit, you just want to avoid a proverbial allergic reaction.
Analysis: It looks like the Avs are set up pretty well to make it though the expansion draft. My early prognosis would be that we go the route of keeping 8 skaters and a goalie. There would be two issues left to solve between now and then. First is, who the hell will our protected goalie be? Which is minor and easily solve-able. The second issue will be surrounding how to move a D-man from the guaranteed protected list. You can’t expose EJ and hope that no one takes him because of his NMC, presumably Zadorov and Girard aren’t going anywhere at their age and experience level, which leaves Tyson Barrie. If expansion occurs I think we all see the writing on the wall here. Tyson Barrie is a premier offensive D-man who will have loads of experience and a 1 year remaining on his contract. Waiting in the wings we have Conor Timmins, Nic Meloche, and cream of the crop Cale Makar who all should be ready for NHL playing time in the 2019/2020 NHL season. A 32nd NHL franchise could just be the impetus for the Avalanche to make a tough decision on keeping or trading Tyson Barrie.
I think the goal of any expansion draft would be to get through it without losing: future assets (think trades to keep other good players) and also keeping your core intact. Colorado is set up nicely for an expansion draft in the next two years. With many high quality ELC’s on the way we may be hurting if expansion is delayed much more than that, but for now I think we’ll be just fine.
tigervixxxen – There seems to be disagreement on where the Avs’ cap situation stands to look in the 2019-2020 season. Where do you see the contracts and available cap at that time?
I’m of the belief that this is the best position the Avalanche franchise has been in since the inception of the Salary Cap. From talent to contracts and expansion to finances the team finally looks stable enough for a prolonged chance at success. So, for me, I see nothing but positives coming for our future. Provided that we don’t have a post playoff 2013/2014 season redo where we thought we were THERE and went for it early, I see no cause for concern regarding the cap and contract situation.
On Contracts: we currently are sitting at 44 of a possible 50 contracts. Generally, and even with a lot of upcoming draft picks, that number only fluctuates so much. Unless we sign an exorbitant amount of UFA’s (please dear god no) or don’t properly space out our ELC’s the issue of contracts resolves itself. I do like that we have plenty of flexibility currently on contracts. In my opinion, the worst case scenario here is that we make a 3 for 1 type superstar (think Tyson Barrie here) for ELC trades and we end up hovering around 47/48 contracts.
On the available cap: I think as long as we limit our activity in UFA to
nothing short term and lower money contracts we will be just fine here too. For as many players who may need big money contracts (Jost, Rantanen, Zadorov, and Girard) at that time or prior just as many will be coming off the books (Wilson, Varly, Comeau, and maybe a Barrie trade too). Not to mention that Beauchemin and Colborne’s contracts will no longer be hitting our cap either. Going into the 2019/2020 season as of this moment Colorado will have a whopping $45 million dollars to play with and that’s assuming that the Salary Cap will remain stagnant. The only way I see that we come close to being a cap strapped steam by 2019 would be if we make a play for someone like John Tavares or Drew Doughty and eat 1/8 of our projected cap on one player. Some may say you take that chance and worry about the cap later, I’m of the belief that it’s a situation better avoided altogether. I’d rather not accelerate the building of Rome.
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