What will the Avs do this offseason
Are the Avs being too complacent this offseason, or are they just lying in wait. Don’t worry too much Avs fans, I think there will be moves coming soon. Pierre Lacoix never signs any big Free Agents during the offseason, but made a big mistake by not resigning Kaspar. Despite the fact that he was by far the best Defensman in the free agent pool, he was what the Avs needed, a gritty defensive defensman, who plays with heart and determination (unlike Skoula) and was definitly worth the price. Kaspar had said after he signed with the Rangers that it seemed like the Avs just wanted to let him go. Why the hell would they do that. Now they HAVE to give up some of their talent to swing a trade.
It’s not like us Avalanche fans are worried. We know we have a team that can compete for the cup, even if Forsberg has to do it all by himself again. It’s just that, when you see tams like Dalllas get so much stronger with the aquisition of a guy that would have filled a huge void on our roster, and you see the Wings stay pretty much the same. You get a little nervous and start to think that we need something to help us compete. Now we have lost another defensman, and have a dangerous lack of depth on the blue line behind Foote and Blake. Now all these worries could be for nothing because I have a feeling Pierre will not be that complacent, and will proably make a couple trades. There are a few aspects that definatly need some adjusting if we intend to win another cup.
First of all, the Avs need immediate help on their blue line. Their prospects are decent but the Avs need some proven NHL defensman. Skoula has to step up and be consistent in his decision making. A few weeks back Yelle was rumored to be offered to Calgary for Gauthier straight up but the deal was rejected. Now this tells me two things. The Avs are in the market for a defensman, and probably also a third line checker. Because giving up Yelle would mean we would need someone to replace him, and with the Avs lack of depth already, I don’t see anyone on the roster to fill his void. The Avs could use two proven Defensman, one a two-way devensman with decent offensive vision, and the other a physical punishing defensman. If the Avs could somehow pry Brad Stuart from SJ, I think he would fill both these voids, but I’m almost positive they will not give him up.
After the defensive aspect has been cleared up, I think the Avs need to focus on adding some depth to their checking lines, even if they do keep Yelle. It was obvious during the last playoffs, that Colorado’s third line can’t chip in the clutch goals like it used too. I think a lot of this has to do with the trading away of Podein. He was the scoring touch on that third line with Yelle and Messier. Keane is a good player but I think he has lost his scoring touch. This is why a player like Holik would have been a great fit for Colorado. He would have added the toughness they needed, as well as the clutch goals they needed without giving up defense. But the Avs didn’t think it was a good idea to pay a player who would have been their third line centre, more money than their first line centre Joe Sakic.
Another aspect the Avs could use is a bigger power foward type player to play on one of the top two lines, probably Forsberg’s on the right side. They could also use this player on the power play since they don’t really have anyone who will consitantly stand in front of the net. This is why Guerin would have been a good fit. The Avs lost this type of gritty scorer when they traded away Deadmarsh, an integral part of the team. If Bertuzzi’s contract negotiation get nasty, he could become available and would be a great fit. The Avs have the trade bait too in NHL players as well a prospects and draft picks. Even though these players will make great NHL players one day, I think Reinprect, and Vrbata should be traded to bring in pieces that will fit better in the Avs cup run puzzle. These two players will be much sought after and could bring in the talent and size they desperatly need. I love Reino and even though he was their best player during some games in the regular season, I think the Avs have enough players of his calibar, and size. Same goes for Vrbata. This kid was on track for 29 goals in his rookie year if he would have been with the team the whole season, but the Avs need a bigger than Average power foward, not a smaller than average sniper. If we have too I suppose we could trade Skoula, but I think the Avs should give him one more year to prove himself. Besides, I know if we trade him he will turn into a great two-way defensman over night. I think it will be interesting what the Avs do with Vaclav Nederost. He is definitly overdue for the NHL, but the Avs have no room for him on their top two lines which is where he should play. With the Tanguay Sakic Hejduk line as their first, and the Forsberg Drury Reinprect (or other bigger foward) line as their second, there seems to be no room for another C/LW. This might make either Nedorost expendable, or Tanguay expendable to make room for Nederost. Nederost is bigger and more physical which would fit well on that line, but Tanguay has great chemistry with that line. Nederost faces the same problem Vrbata did when Hejduk came back in the playoffs, there just isn’t any room. This is why I think at least two fowards will be traded.
I think some of the Depth will be filled by a couple prospects, and could turn out to be surprises. Steve Morre looks ready to jump into a checking line role and with his size he could have been the centre the Avs had in mind if they traded Yelle. Whatever he does, I hope Pierre makes up for his apparent stubborness in not engaging in the UFA market. Especially when players like Holik, Guerin, and Kaspar would have filled giant holes on the roster.