• Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

What your team is thankful for: Colorado Avalanche

As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches, PHR will take a look at what the 2022-23 teams are thankful for. There might also be a few things your team would like later on. We’ll examine what went well early on and what could improve as the season progresses for the Colorado Avalanche.

Who are the Avalanche thankful for?

Alexander Georgiev.

The Avalanche have an incredible team, so of course it’s difficult to pick just one person for whom the franchise should be grateful. That being said, one name pops up above the rest of the pack: Georgiev. Why? Because when you look at both a player’s performance and what can reasonably be expected of that player, Georgiev stands out from all other Avalanche players.

Kal Makar it’s going very well Nathan MacKinnon was brilliant. Mikko Rantanen stormed out of the gates. But brilliance is the expectation for these players. What can Georgiev reasonably expect from a netminder who posted a saving rate of 0.898 last year? Could the Avalanche have expected the feat he gave them?

Even the most optimistic Avalanche fan has to admit that Georgiev’s game so far this year has been a surprise. The keeper has won 9-2-1 with 2.40 goals against average and a £0.929 save. That .929 mark is the third best in the NHL and eight points better than the former starting goalie’s 0.921 percent Darcy Kumper gave Colorado last season.

The Avalanche gave three draft picks to the New York Rangers to acquire Georgiev, then promptly gave him a $3.4 million AAV contract running through summer 2025. At the time, that was seen as a risk, as the team would take a huge leap of faith to trust such an untried goaltender in a year where they would be defending a Stanley Cup championship.

Well, it seems the leap of faith is being rewarded, and for that the Avalanche is very grateful.

What are the Avalanche thankful for?

The depth of talent in their organization.

Every NHL team faces its fair share of injuries over the course of a season. So much is inevitable. But in the case of the Avalanche, their injury worries have so far slipped beyond fair share territory in 2022-23. Right now the team has two players on injured reserve and two more on long-term injured reserve. In addition to these inactives, numerous players are either playing through ailments or struggling with everyday injuries that aren’t worthy of a full IR placement.

It’s no secret: Colorado has weathered an avalanche of injuries so far this year. But what has kept the team afloat (with a three-game winning streak and an 11-5-1 overall record) has been the deep players, who have appropriately taken up spots in the lineup vacated by injured players.

players such as Martin Kautwho met waivers earlier this year, and Jacob McDonald, an undrafted 29-year-old blueliner, was forced into Impact roles this year. While the team would ideally still have healthy players initially enrolled in these roles, the contributions of these depth players must not be forgotten.

Once the Avalanche’s injured stars have returned to full health and resumed their places in the roster, the help provided to the team by their depth players cannot be forgotten.

What would the Avalanche be more grateful for?

Better performance off Alex Newhook.

So much has gone right for the Avalanche so far this year, and much of what has gone right has to do with the risks the team took last summer as it walked a tightrope through the risked a salary cap.

One of the team’s most important dice rolls was to trust its internal options (plus Evan Rodrigueswith whom they eventually signed a one-year deal) to take on their role as second-line centers.

The thought was that Newhook, a 2019 first-round pick who had 33 points in his 71-game rookie year, would be ready to take the next step and take the spot he would be on Nazem Kadri had so much success.

So far this year, however, that thought has proven to be a little premature. Newhook, who has also spent some time on the wing, has found it difficult to get a consistent goal and has only had six points in 17 games so far.

What would make the Avalanche even more grateful this holiday season is if Newhook could manage to play like the top-six center the team has come to expect from him. If he could, it would go a long way in building confidence that the Avalanche could defend their 2022 Stanley Cup title.

What should be on the Avalanche vacation wish list?

A clean bill of health.

When the Avalanche are fully sane, their list has few holes. The team is built like a juggernaut and quite capable of winning another Stanley Cup. But to get to that point, their players must be healthy enough to contribute. This has not been the case so far this year.

You need a captain Gabriel Landeskog to return from his serious injury Valery Nikhushkin to get back on the ice and get back to where he was last season and they will need the rest of their roster to avoid extended stints on injured reserve.

This general feeling – the need to stay healthy – applies to all teams, but it’s especially important for a team on its way to Stanley Cup or failure. Triumphing over every other NHL team is extremely difficult and requires the right balance of talent, will, and luck.

The Avalanche aren’t short on talent, that’s for sure, and they’ve proven their mettle this past season. But luck is the final component that wins the championship, and being a little luckier than you’ve been in the health department should be number one on the Avalanche’s vacation wish list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

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