This series will cover all thirty teams and go over the most important player, and player who’s performance most needs to improve to help the team succeed.
As talented as some of the Avalanche forwards are on the surface it is amazing that they finished both out of the playoffs and in the lottery. Unfortunately for fans in Colorado forwards aren’t the only players who affect the outcome of a game. Last year they were dismal on the penalty kill, and had the defensive prowess of a hobbled sheep. Goaltending is best left unmentioned save to say that they did make several changes.
Last year Matt Duchene made the jump from rising star to All Star. This year he needs to assume an even larger and more responsible role for his team. With more than fifty goals in just two seasons in the NHL it is easy to see how many had him going number one in his draft year. As the current points leader for the 2009 draftees it’s hard to say he doesn’t live up to the billing, or see him getting anything but better in his third year. Duchene led the team in takeaways last season, if he can further round out his game good things will follow.
Semyon Varlemov is the hole card in the Avalanches hand. This season is when he’ll get flipped over and at some point we’ll all figure out where in the deck he sits. In the three seasons he’s appeared in the NHL thus far he’s had passable stats on a not very defensive team in Washington, but never for very long. To date he’s played a high of 27 NHL regular season games in a season. He does have some playoff experience with a solid .915 Sv% through 19 games, but he’s also had issues staying healthy. To date at just 23 he’s suffered kneed and groin issues. He also threatened to return to Russia just days before he was traded to Colorado.