Better luck next year: The Colorado Avalanche are going to be trouble again this season
They took a step backwards in 2022-23 but they hit all of the right moves this offseason.
Welcome back to Better Luck Next Season where we will take a look at what went wrong, what went right, and what sits ahead for all of the teams that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs or were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today we look at the Colorado Avalanche who seemed to lose a step in 2022-23, but made the right moves this offseason to get back on track.
When it comes to single season teams I would put the 2021-22 Colorado Avalanche up against any one individual team in the NHL’s salary cap era.
They were that good.
They won 56 regular season games despite a pretty extensive list of significant injuries, they had one of the best top-to-bottom rosters in the league at forward and on defense, and then absolutely steamrolled every team they faced in the playoffs on their way to a Stanley Cup championship.
They never faced elimination, went 16-4 in the playoffs, swept a Connor McDavid-led Edmonton team in the Western Conference Final, and then beat the back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six games to win the Stanley Cup.
It was a perfect storm of good drafting to land superstar talent at the top of the roster (Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Cale Makar) and a shrewd front office that hit on almost all of its moves to land impact complementary players (Nazem Kadri, Devon Toews, Sam Girard, Valeri Nichushkin, Arturri Lehkonen, Andre Burakovsky, and Darcy Kuemper).
That core group of players had already established itself as a contender years earlier, but it kept running into a wall in the Second Round of the playoffs. In 2022, they finally broke through that wall.
Then the salary cap — and some bad luck — started to take its toll on the roster.
Once the Stanley Cup celebration ended, the Avalanche lost Kadri, Burakovsky and Kuemper to free agency, and then had to deal with what turned out to be a season-ending injury to Landeskog. Nobody was prepared for that, especially as a season-long issue.
That is a lot of talent and production removed from the lineup going into 2022-23, and as more injuries continued to mount the Avalanche were putting a roster on the ice some nights that was completely unrecognizable.
They never found a replacement for Kadri as their second-line center, and the depth just wasn’t the same as it had been during their championship run. They were still an excellent team, but they could not get by the second-year Seattle Kraken in the opening round of the playoffs.
With Landeskog set to miss another full season, the Avalanche really needed to address their depth this summer.
I think they did. At the very least they made some strong low-risk gambles with potentially high rewards.
Let’s take a look at what they brought in.
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