For the final installment of my “Player Review” series, I thought I would talk about all of the other players who spent some time with the organization at some point this season. This includes a few players who were traded away, as well as players who bounced between the Lake Erie Monsters and the Avalanche.
Daniel Winnik- 63 GP, 5 G, 13 A
Winnik was in his second season with the Avalanche before he was traded to the San Jose Sharks. He played well for the Avalanche this season, giving them a lot of energy and effort each game. He was part of the penalty kill unit for the majority of the season, and was definitely a big reason why the unit went from being ranked 30th in the league to 12th. Winnik was also a durable player, who played in 63/63 possible games for the Avalanche this season. However, Winnik’s offensive production was rather suspect. In both his years with the Avalanche, he got off to quick starts, and then would go for long stretches without scoring a goal. Someone who spent about a 6 weeks on the top line, and then continued to earn a decent amount of playing time once he was moved down, needs to produce more. There were also many times where I believed he could have made a break for some shorthanded opportunities, and instead he would give up on the puck for a line change. (This could very well have been coaching, but it was still incredibly irritating to watch.) Once he was traded to the Sharks, he politely thanked the Avalanche, and proceeded to score over half his amount of goals in a third of the games. I wish Winnik success, but at the end of the day believe the Avalanche will need stronger offensive players if they want to make it into the playoffs.
TJ Galiardi- 55 GP, 8 G, 6 A
Ah, the conundrum that is TJ Galiardi. On the one hand, he seems to have enough skill where he should be scoring 15-20 goals a year. On the other hand, he did spend time on the top lines, and he didn’t produce the points. I’ll be upfront and say that I am a HUGE Galiardi fan- and believe he will have consistent success at the NHL level. These past two seasons, however, were subpar, and made him dispensable. In 2010-2011, Galiardi only played 35 games, due to a broken arm and a broken wrist. Over the summer of 2011, he went absolutely nuts and was consuming about 20,000 calories a day. He packed on 20 pounds of muscle (and said that at one point he got to 216 pounds). He read books about the powers of positive thinking in order to become stronger mentally. He was so much bigger and stronger, and the season seemed like it would be his best yet. However, some struggles with the coaching staff caused him to lose some confidence, and I don’t think that he was always utilized properly. Did he get time on the top lines? Absolutely. Was he the first person to be downgraded? Yes. It got to the point where he would take a penalty, and Sacco would bench him for the rest of the game. A player like Galiardi cannot be worried about penalties-he is an agitator. He drives people nuts. And that means that he is going to have elevated minutes in the box. I miss Galiardi in the burgundy and blue, but as long as Sacco is the head coach, Galiardi will never fit in to the lineup playing wise. I’ll miss his crazy post-win handshakes with O’Reilly, Landeskog, and O’Byrne. I’ll miss he and Paul Stastny teasing eachother all of the time because they were roommates at home. I know all of the boys miss him in the lockerroom. I hope he finds success, whether it be in San Jose or with some other team. Gali, I’ll root for you wherever you are. Except when you’re playing the Avs.
Kyle Quincey- 54 GP, 5 G, 18 A
Quincey had a good season production wise with the Avs. He scored a lot of points, and seemed to return to 2009-2010 Quincey form. However, his trade was necessary. There are just too many blueliners in the Avalanche system who deserve an NHL spot. It was better to lose Quincey via a trade (where the team got something in return) than to lose him through free agency. Right after Quincey left, there were several negative comments made by him reguarding the Avalanche. Those, along with other comments leading up to his trade, make me believe that Quincey started to get an elevated sense of self-import, and was focusing more on himself than on the team. However, he is still good friends with many of his old Avalanche teammates, so it appears that they are all very forgiving. Let bygones be bygones, and hope Quincey enjoys his time with the Red Wings. And whenever he plays the Avs, he can expect a special game.
Brandon Yip- 10 GP, 0 G, 0 A
Oh Yip. He’s another player I love, but the team lost him on waivers to Nashville. I think the team would have preferred it if he had gone down to Lake Erie and been available to play for the Avs still. However, I’m sure Yip prefers an NHL job, and was happy that the Predators picked him up. Yip suffered a broken arm during a preseason game, and he was not healthy enough to play for several weeks. By the time he was ready to play, there was seemingly no room for him. He was scratched for a good number of games, and he failed to produce offensively when he was given a chance in the lineup. At the end of the day, this was better for the team. Stronger offensive players have been able to come in. And Yip, seems to have seen a resurgence in his game in Music City.
Stefan Elliott- 39 GP, 4 G, 9 A
Elliott came into training camp this year highly touted. Both he and Tyson Barrie were considered the blueliners of the future. Elliott started the season with the Lake Erie Monsters. He was recalled in November, and scored his first goal during his first game. He continued to play well, but soon hit a wall offensively. Due to the fact that his billing is as an offensive defenseman, he began seeing less icetime. He spent the majority of his time up with the Avs, but saw himself become a healthy scratch. I think Elliott will be ready to be a full-time NHLer next season. He learned a lot this year, and is only going to improve his strength. His defensive skills are surprisingly well developed, something that I believe was often overlooked due to his outstanding offensive capabilities. If he does make the team out of camp this year, I would like to see him paired with Ryan Wilson. When they were together, they each had their strongest games. (And the other pairings I like are Johnson/O’Brien and O’Byrne/Hejda).
David Van Der Gulik- 25 GP, 1 G, 5 A
Van der Gulik was one of those really cool stories this season. He was called up just before the birth of his son. He played 25 games with the team, and finally seemed to be earning himself a real chance at being a regular NHLer. However, he was sent back to Lake Erie eventually. I know that his contract is up, and that he will probably go to the team that gives him his best chance at being in the NHL. Still, I hope that he can remain in the Avalanche organization. He’s a physical, aggressive player, and he fits in very nicely on the fourth line. He was also a very good penalty killer during his time with the Avalanche.
Joakim Lindstrom- 16 GP, 2 G, 3 A
Lindstrom was one of Greg Sherman’s more surprising signings during the offseason. He was coming over from the Swedish Elite League, and had some NHL experience. Lindstrom was with the team for about 20 games, and then the team wanted to send him to Lake Erie. Lindstrom, however, chose to return to the Swedish Elite League. His contract expires this summer, and I know he recently signed an extension with his team in Skelleftea. It’s a shame he had to leave, for he did have some offensive upside, and was a wonder in the shoot out.
Tyson Barrie- 10 GP, 0 G, 0 A
Poor Barrie. I think he was credited with his first NHL assist about three different times, only to have it taken away. Still, he showed that he can be great at setting up offensive opportunities, even if he doesn’t always get on the board. I know that Barrie technically finished the season with the Avs, but he only played 10 games, which is why I decided to review him as a part of this list. There were a few key turnovers in the offensive zone that lead to goals with Barrie, and those are my biggest concern. He needs to be stronger on the puck, and he needs to become stronger overall this summer if he wants to make the Avalanche right out of training camp. I’d love it if Barrie could be the seventh defenseman in the lineup, for the next season, and gain more experience. He might not play a lot of games, but I think practicing everyday with NHL-caliber players is what is going to turn him into a reliable, (Avalanche!) defenseman for the majority of his career. If both he and Elliott make the team next year, the draft year of 2009 could become the most legendary on in Avalanche history. Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Stefan Elliott, Tyson Barrie-all from the same year, all on the same team? That is how you build a dynasty, my friends.
Brad Malone- 9 GP, 0 G, 2 A
Brad Malone played his first professional season this year, after competing for three years at the NCAA level. He spent the majority of his time in Lake Erie, but his nine game stint with the big club gave me a lot of hope. I don’t know if he is ready to become a full time NHLer (I’m leaning towards no), however he did prove that he can play at this level. He earned two assists while mostly filling a fourth line role. 2 points in 9 games is pretty good for your fourth line guys. He was physical, and I know he really enjoyed getting to play against his cousin (Ryan Malone of the Tampa Bay Lightning). If he can continue to work hard (and work with his cousin, who is a full time NHLer), I think within a year or two, he could be the Avalanche’s fourth line center.
Evan Brophey- 3 GP, 0 G, 0 A
Evan Brophey did not earn a lot of time on ice when he was with the Avalanche. He only took about five faceoffs, and his shifts were extremely short. As such, I don’t really feel comfortable reviewing him. Hopefully, he continues to develop and can be a more integral member of the Avalanche system.
Mike Connolly- 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A
Connolly was another player who did not get a lot of playing time while he was with the Avs. He was acquired at the deadline with Jamie McGinn (and Michael Sgarbossa) from the Sharks. However, he was a good physical presence during the two games he played, and seems very eager to continue improving.