Colorado Avalanche: Sliding Down the Mountain Into Training Camp

The Colorado Avalanche have shown strides of improvement in the last two years under Head Coach Jared Bednar. In his first season back in 2016-2017, they were the worst team in the NHL.

Colorado was the second wild card team in the west for the past two years. They lost to the Nashville Predators in six games during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round.

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During the 2019 postseason, the Avalanche used their speed to their advantage and took out the top-seeded Calgary Flames in five games. Colorado lost to the San Jose Sharks in the next round in seven games. The Colorado Avalanche could have very well won that series, but they did not get a couple of calls to go their way.

This team is ready to take the next step. Nathan MacKinnon is only 23 years old and he is already one of the best players in the world. It is going to be interesting to see how this team responds this season to high expectations.

The Central Division is one of the toughest divisions in the NHL. They got a lot better in the offseason. The Dallas Stars are also got better in the offseason. The Nashville Predators, the St. Louis Blues, and the Winnipeg Jets will also be around.

It will be interesting to see how good the Chicago Blackhawks will be and the Minnesota Wild will most likely be the worst team in the Central Division.

The projected lines for the Colorado Avalanche will be Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen, Tyson JostNazem KadriAndre Burakovsky, Valeri NichushkinJ.T. CompherJoonas Donskoi, and Matt CalvertColin WilsonMatthew Nieto.

The projected defensive pairings will be Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov and Cale Makar, and Kevin Connauton and Calle Rosen.

Philipp Grubauer will be the starting goalie. Pavel Francouz will be the backup.

Semyon Varlamov was the backup goalie last season. He signed with the New York Islanders in the offseason for four years.

Colorado also traded away defenseman Tyson Barrie to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nazem Kadri was a part of that deal as well. Getting Andre Burakovsky from the Washington Capitals and Joonas Donskoi from the San Jose Sharks were great moves for this team.

Some of the players that could step up in case of injury will be Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Vladislav Kamenev, Ian Cole, Mark Barberio, Kevin Connauton, and Ryan Graves.

Two players to keep an eye on during training camp is fourth overall pick defenseman Bowen Byram and 16th overall pick centerman Alex Newhook.

That fourth overall pick originally belonged to the Ottawa Senators, but Colorado acquired that pick from the Matt Duchene trade back in November of 2017.

Byram has the potential to be on the roster sooner rather than later. Bowen Byram and Newhook are both 18 years old. Alex Newhook might take longer to develop.

The Colorado Avalanche have not won the Stanley Cup Title since 2001 against the New Jersey Devils in seven games.

The training camp schedule hasn’t been announced yet.  Colorado will begin preseason play on Tuesday, September 17 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Avalanche will begin the season at home on Thursday, October 3 against the Calgary Flames.

How do you see the 2019 Colorado Avalanche this season? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Glenn on Twitter @glennkaplan13.

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