We are deep in the thralls of summer now, with only the occasional trickle of news reaching us from the Avalanche camp. However, a few contracts have been signed between the Avalanche and several prospects.
First, Sean Sullivan (defensemen) was signed to a one-year, two-way deal. Sullivan split last season between the Worchester Sharks and the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate teams of the San Jose Sharks and the Florida Panthers. He earned 34 points in 61 games. Next is Bill Thomas (right wing), another player who played for the San Antonio Rampage. He did play a seven game stint with the Florida Panthers, wherein he scored one goal. Another defensemen, Thomas Pock, was signed to a one-year deal. He spent his past year playing in Europe, spending some time with Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg’s MODO. Patrick Bordeleau has re-signed, a move that makes many fans, including myself, happy. Bordeleau is more of enforcer, but he does have some skill as well. I don’t expect him to make the Avalanche, but he is a good option if the Avs find themselves in need of a third or fourth line player to call up. Finally, Michael Sgarbossa was inked to a three year, entry level contract. Sgarbossa, along with Jamie McGinn and Mike Connolly, was acquired in the trade between the Avalanche and the Sharks that sent TJ Galiardi and Daniel Winnik to San Jose. Sgarbossa led the OHL in scoring last season, and is one of the prospects whom I feel very excited about. Once again, I don’t expect him to make the team out of training camp, but in the next year or two, I think fans will get to see him play in a few games at least.
Here is a short little article by Adrian Dater of the Denver Post about another Avalanche prospect, Mitchell Heard.
And, finally, here is my projected lineup for next season.
Now of course, the forward lineup is subject mostly to the Milan Hejduk who shows up at camp. If he looks to be his old self, the scorer, he should be on a line with O’Reilly and Landeskog. Should he shows up with the seemingly lost touch he displayed through much of the second half of the season, I am not sure where to put him. I also slotted Downie into a left wing hole because out of the five players who play on the left wing, he seems the most able on his off side. Another option for that left wing hole is Mark Olver. (Also, I put Stastny-O’Reilly-Duchene as 1-2-3 in the same sense that Crosby-Malkin-Staal were 1-2-3. They should really each get about the same amount of playing time in even strength situations.) As for the defensemen, I know I put Elliott with Wilson rather than Zanon or Hunwick, each of whom is considered a safer bet to make the team out of training camp. However, I still think that the Wilson-Elliott pairing is the best match. Those two players, when they played together, worked fabulously. And of all the defensemen on the team, Shane O’Brien seemed to fit the best with Erik Johnson. If Hejda’s wrist should delay his start to the season, I can see the pairing of O’Byrne with either Zanon or Hunwick, though Zanon seems a more likely choice, as he and Hejda’s styles are much more similar.
As for the goaltending, I think it would be good to see Varlamov start about 60 games this season, leaving 22 for J.S. Giguere. Of course, if either finds himself on a winning or losing streak, the number may fluctuate slightly. However, I think this is the best recipe to keep both goaltenders fresh and healthy.