The Avs have just announced that Steve Downie will be out for the rest of the season. He is going to undergo season-ending knee surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament. For those of you who are wondering, the anterior cruciate ligament is his ACL. It really just stinks to have him out. Per Adrian Dater, Brad Malone has been recalled from Lake Erie. I’m surprised that they’re recalling Malone, when he wasn’t invited to camp, but I know that the organization thinks very highly of him.
Steve Downie’s injury is to his right knee. The Avs don’t know yet how severe it is, as they are waiting for some more testing results. All we know for sure is that Downie will not be playing Thursday night against Columbus. He will be replaced in the lineup by Chuck Kobasew in tomorrow’s game. Downie also missed practice today. I really hope that this injury isn’t too severe. He’s a good player, and he’s one of the few Avs who consistently brings a gritty edge to his game. It would be a real shame if he healed completely from shoulder surgery, only to be out with a major knee injury.
Today, the Avaanche were the featured team on NHL.com, for the “30 in 30″ preview the league does leading up to every season. (Which is really cruel, when you think about it. If the season actually starts on time, Harry Potter worked his best magic yet. So really, they’re just getting us all pumped up for nothing.)
Anyways, these features come with about four articles:
Here is a potential line-up projection: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=639827
(While I believe the forwards look pretty accurate, I think they screwed up 3/4 defensive pairings. First off, Jan Hejda and Ryan O’Byrne are D partners. Clearly, NHL.com does not remember the -16 start Hejda and Johnson got off to when they were paired together. Erik Johnson seems to work best with Shane O’Brien, a player who might not score a lot of points but still presses offensively. With O’Brien, EJ is thrust into more offensive situations. They do need to work on their giveaway totals, but overall, this is the strongest pairing Johnson was in all season. Ryan Wilson and Stefan Elliott just work together. They played together for the first 5-10 games of Elliott’s career, and those were the games in which Elliott looked the most relaxed and produced the most points.)
Next up, a list of the top 10 Avalanche prospects: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=639854
(I agree with this list. I would probably change the order a little bit, putting Barrie first, but at the end of the day, all 10 of these players show a lot of promise. I can’t wait to see them in the Burgundy and Blue.)
Our next story is about Duchene needing to rebound: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=639831
(Gee, you think, NHL.com? I thought we wanted our third overall pick in 2009 to earn 28 points and only play in 58 games…oh wait how about he plays in about 80 and scores about 70-80 points? That sounds better, doesn’t it?)
The final article discusses the top six questions the Avalanche face this season:
For the record, here are my six questions:
1) Can Milan Hejduk regain his scoring form? Or will the captain once again find himself relegated to the fourth line? (Especially if he ends up playing on his off-wing?)
2) Will P.A. Parenteau prove that he can truly be a successful player-that he is more than a couple of strong seasons?
3) How will the penalty kill fare? (Also, will the Avalanche find themselves with such a severe deficit between time shorthanded and time with the man-advantage?)
4) Can Erik Johnson push himself past 30 points?
5) Will Ryan Wilson return to the form he showed before he sustained his concussion last year? Or will his physical style of play be limited like it was in the second half of the season?
6) What kind of sustained success will Jamie McGinn and Steve Downie have when they play in Colorado for a full season?
EJ Hradek predicted that the Avalanche will make the playoffs this season. The Hockey News predicted that the Avalanche will finish 14th in the Western Conference. While I myself have concerns, at the end of the day, I fall back on positive thinking.
Which sports would each player participate in?
Like nearly everyone else, I have Olympic fever. Last night, I got to thinking “what sports would the members of the Colorado Avalanche compete in, if they were to be summer Olympians?”
Gabriel Landeskog-I’m putting Landy down for soccer. His brother is a big soccer player, and he even scored his first NHL goal using his feet. Of course, his penchant for hitting people might cause the entire opposing squad to lay down in protest. (I love soccer. But the diving is ridiculous.)
Matt Duchene-I have a good feeling about Dutchy and fencing. He’s got great stick handling skills, so after some adjustments, he could be very savvy with a foil. He also has quick feet for all of the footwork required. Plus, who remembers him jabbing people with his stick after wins? He was clearly practicing earning points!
Matt Hunwick-Hunny is the team sprinter. He’s the fastest player on the Avs skating, so I’m going to guess that he can run a mean 200 meter.
Erik Johnson-I’m putting Edge down for long distance running. (10k, 15k…probably not a marathon, but you never know). This call comes from me observing him on the bench after returning from a lengthy shift. His economy of movement, general energy conservation, and apparent lung capacity (he never panted, just deep, cleansing breaths) gives me confidence that he has the endurance for long distances.
Ryan O’Byrne-Byrner has to be the basketball player on the team. He’s the tallest player on the team, and the only Avalanche basketball story I have heard came from Matt Duchene. And it was not a pretty tale.
Jan Hejda- Hejda could be a good volleyball player, especially if he worked primarily as a setter. (Am I saying that right? I’ve blocked out my 7th grade volleyball unit, it was the most traumatic experience I ever had in all my school years.)
Paul Stastny-Pauly could go for two categories. First, I know he’s a big tennis player (and major Roger Federer fan), so I’m tabbing him for that. A second option is a biking event. I mean, just look at this biking outfit he has. He’s serious about rolling on two wheels.
Semyon Varlamov-Varls, as the most flexible player on the team, is clearly the gymnast of the bunch. He’s a little tall, so he might not be an all around gymnast, but he could certainly specialize on an event or two. (Pommel horse? Floor exercise?)
Ryan Wilson-”Sauce”, as Wilson is affectionately called by his teammates, is the resident baseball player. He played until he was in his teens, and he just competed in Doug Gilmour’s “Dougieball” tournament for charity. Clearly, if anyone on this team can hit a homerun, it’s #44.
Cody McLeod-The highlander represents in boxing. Was there ever any doubt?
Steve Downie-Wrestling? He’s aggressive and dogged, so I think that wrestling is a good fit. It’s a sport as old as time, and he plays some old school hockey.
Ryan O’Reilly; David Jones- Each of these players has a lot of overall skill, so I’m going to say they should be in the heptathlon, decathlon style events. Lots of things to do and be good at.
Chuck Kobasew-Chuckie, I’m making you a rower. No idea why, but I’m running out of sports, and I figure you’d prefer rowing to badminton.
Jean-Sebastian Giguere- Doesn’t Jiggy just seem like a natural, horse-y person? He’s good with his hands, so he’s be able to smoothly give directions to his horse as an equestrian.
Milan Hejduk-Captain archery. Hejdie seems like he would be the best at a high skill sport, such as archery. He’s good at golf, and threading the needle on the ice, so why not archery?
Jamie McGinn-For some reason, I’m getting the feeling that Ginner would love to play some beach volleyball. He’s got enough all around strength to play the sport, and he’s been spending this summer taking pictures of his feet lakeside.
Shane O’Brien-OB is the Michael Phelps of this group. He’s got a strong upperbody, and long arms, which makes me believe he has what it takes to be a natural. Plus, apparently he’s a very good surfer.
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.
Before I jump into the real purpose of this article, just thought I would tell everyone that Steve Downie re-signed yesterday with the Avalanche. His two year deal holds a $2.65 million cap hit.
The NHL’s free agency period begins tomorrow. As such, I thought I would look at players who the Avalanche could potentially target and sign.
Franly, I wouldn’t expect the Avalanche to sign any free agent goalies or defensemen. The tandem of Semyon Varlamov and J.S. Giguere is just going to be stronger this year. Also, the Avalanche have signed 5 NHL defensemen already, and Erik Johnson WILL be signed, or I’m a fruit bat. Unless Ryan Suter tells the Avalanche that he will play for free, don’t expect them to sign any defensemen. As such, I would look for the Avalanche to target 1-2 wingers, and potentially a fourth line center (though they may elect to just let Brad Malone fill that role, as he had a strong year last year).
-Ideally, the Avalanche will sign Zach Parise. Parise is a fantastic player, and he is good friends with Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson. Perhaps the allure of reuniting with his Olympic linemate Paul Stastny, combined with Colorado being a great place to live, will bring Parise to the Avs.
-P.A. Parenteau scored 67 points last year, and he could potentially fill a hole on Matt Duchene’s wing.
-Jordin Tootoo could work well. He had a good season with Nashville this past year, and it looks likely he will be leaving in search of a new home. If he came to the Avs he could work well on a line with Matt Duchene (not all season, but occasionally), and he could also fill in some fourth-line minutes with strong skill. Unfortunately, Tootoo is a smaller player, something the Avs seem to have too many of.
-Ray Whitney could really work. The man is
100 40 years old and he still put up 77 points last year. That’s 20 more points than any Avalanche player last year.
-Jiri Hudler did have 50 points last year. He might be a nice fit, and he might spread his wings out on a team that doesn’t have Datsyuk or Zetterberg stealing all the ice time.
-Brandon Prust would be a really good energy player for the Avs to add, as a fourth-liner.
-Alexander Semin: I don’t know much about him, other than the fact he is a sniper and everyone whines about his effort level. If the Avalanche feel he could be a motivated player, he might come. He and Semyon Varlamov are good friends, afterall.
-Paul Gaustad might be a nice addition in the role of fourth line center. He’s good for about 25 points a year (10 goals), and is a very large player. At 6′ 5″ he could outmuscle other centers in the faceoff circle easily.
-Richard Park was the Penguins fourth-line center for much of this year. He would bring some veteran leadership to the team, as well as strong faceoff skills.
Today, the Colorado Avalanche announced that they have signed defenseman Ryan Wilson to a new, three year deal. (With an increasing salary: $2 million the first year, and 2.375 million the next two years.) I am personally delighted by this news, as Wilson is my favortie defenseman. However, I think this news is good for the Avalanche, even when I take off my rose-colored glasses. Wilson is not the most offensive player, but he is good for 20 or so points a year. His plus/minus has been one of the best on the team in each of his three seasons in Colorado. He’s a feared hitter, and he can drop the gloves too, when necessary.
While Wilson had some struggles after his concussion this year, I have faith that he will only become a more consistent player with each year.
Also announced today were the RFAs who received qualifying offers. Erik Johnson, Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn, Steve Downie, and Mark Olver all received offers, and Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter did not receive an offer. I’m not surprised about Porter, who seemed to fall out of favor this season. I am surprised about Mueller, but cautiously optimistic that he could still remain in the Avalanche system. I don’t understand enough about the legalities of contracts in the NHL to give a full summary, but I do no that a team must include at least a ”minimum increase” in their qualifying offer (though sometimes the contract will be re-negotiated back to the previous year’s figure). Mueller made $2.5 million last season, which is a large contract for a player who suffered through several unpredictable injuries. If he does end up re-signing, I am sure it will be with a sufficient paycut, as there is no guarentee about his health. It is unfortunate situation, but I understand where the team is coming from on the business side of things. Also, it is possible that they are letting Mueller go believing that will open up more cap room to (hopefully) sign Zach Parise to a very large, impressive contract come July 1. If Parise comes to town, Mueller might have ended up as a surplus winger, something that a player as talented as he should never go through.
One final announcement made was the signings of forwards David Van Der Gulik and Patrick Bordeleau. Bordeleau spent all of last season with the Lake Erie Monsters, while Van Der Gulik split his season between the Avalanche and the Monsters.
Before I review Downie’s season, I thought I would give a few updates on our avs in the WC.
Paul Stastny-Scored his first goal of the tournament against Slovakia in a 4-2 loss. He also lead the game with 12 faceoff wins (losing only 6).
Ryan O’Reilly- Did not have a point in Canada’s 7-2 victory over France, but won a game-high 10 faceoffs (out 0f 14).
Semyon Varlamov-Won his second straight game, making 19 saves on 21 shots. (43 saves on 47 hots thus far this tournament.)
Gabriel Landeskog-Earned his first point (an assist) in Sweden’s 6-4 victory over Denmark. Also, a small feature was written about him on the IIHF WC website: http://www.iihf.com/competition/272/news/news-singleview-2012/recap/6883.html?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=6249&cHash=6cbc8de606
w/ Avalanche Total
Games Played: 20 75
Goals: 2 14
Assists: 11 27
Points: 13 41
Plus/Minus: +9 -6
PIM: 16 137
*Takeaways(TA/GA Differential): 49 (+17)
*Blocked Shots: 25
*I couldn’t find these statistics seperated between his time with both teams he played for, and thus only have the total.
Steve Downie started his season as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and ended as a Colorado Avalanche. I can’t review his time in Florida, as I wasn’t watching him continually there, but I did get to see a 20 game sample of what he has to offer. Downie is described as a “gritty”, “mean” player, and each of those words proved true. He managed to aggravate the opposition at every opportunity, and his first shift in Colorado started with a huge hit. Downie brought added toughness to this team, and he has enough skill to play on the top lines and produce a solid number of points. While he is not the largest player, he plays a bigger game than one would expect from someone of his stature.
Downie may not be a big goal scorer, but he does a pretty good job of setting up his teammates. 27 of his 41 points were assists, and nine out of 11 points in Colorado were assists. He frequently played on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly. Landeskog is a “shoot-first” player, so having two good passers on his line is always going to be good for him to release his shot. Downie’s an aggressive player, and an annoying one. This team needed more of that old-fashioned hockey grit, and Downie brings that. Prior to his aquisition, the tougher players in the Avalanche core group were the fourth liners. Now, a player who spends time on the top lines brings that grit to the skill, making the team more dangerous overall.
Downie earns a lot of penalties. From what I have heard (from our lovely Tampa Bay Lightning writer, Alexis), he used to take a lot more stupid penalties. While he has cleaned up his game to take fewer unnecessary penalties, he was already a player watched closely by the referees. This means that he will earn a few more penalties and be on a shorter leash. It’s never a good thing for the team to be shorthanded, particularly when the Avs already struggle to earn power plays. Also, while he can play on the top lines, I wouldn’t expect him to earn a staggering amount of points. I think a 40 point season is what fans should come to expect from Downie. This means that other players are going to have to step up their offensive game when they have the time on ice, as the Avs need the majority of their top line players to produce 60+ points.
Downie recently had shoulder surgery (for a seperation in the joint). Hesuffered the injury March 3, missed one game, and then came back. He’s clearly a warrior. While there has not been an official timetable released for his recovery, he is expected to be recovered by training camp. Clearly, this summer, what he needs to work on is getting the shoulder healed up, and keep up his skill set as much as possible.
Downie was traded late in the season. Typically players stay in a hotel for the remainder of the season in these situations, but Downie was lucky enough to stay with Ryan Wilson. The two knew eachother from junior, so Wilson offered Downie his extra room.
Downie’s is in need of a new contract this season. He just finished a contract that saw him earn $1, 850, 000 per season. I believe Downie will absolutely be resigned. Late season acquisitions are judged on their performance post-trade, and Downie was simply fantastic. Without his contributions, the Avs might have been out of the playoff race far earlier. I don’t anticipate a huge increase in his salary.
Not a ton of Avs news today, and I’m feeling a bit sick. So we go to bulletin points:
-Erik Johnson was not at practice today. He is suffering from a knee injury (luckily his neck and spine are okay). He is questionable for Saturday’s game.
-Chuck Kobasew missed practice again due to his back injury.
-Steve Downie missed practice due to illness, but he should be able to play in tomorrow’s game.
-Semyon Varlamov will get the start against Edmonton.
-If the Avs want to win tomorrow’s game (and let’s face it, they really really need to), they need to be prepared for a high tempo game. If they can play a similar game to the one they played in February against Edmonton, they should be successful.
The Colorado Avalanche won the second game against the Minnesota Wild in their brief home-and-home series. It was a rough first period, with forty penalty minutes between the two teams. Colorado was able to score the only goal of the first period, Jay McClement’s 10th of the year.
Things got going in the second period, as the Avs scored four goals. Jamie McGinn scored on the power play; Jan Hejda, Mark Olver, and Ryan O’Reilly scored the even strength goals. Minnesota goalie Matt Hackett was pulled after Colorado’s fourth goal, and was replaced by Josh Harding. It was one of the best periods the Avs have played this year. Minnesota’s trap system had little success slowing down the Avalanche, who had many odd-man rushes. During the third period, the Wild were awarded a penalty shot, and Devin Setoguchi ended nearly 130 minutes of shut out time by Semyon Varlamov. Colorado would add goals from David Jones and Cody McCleod. Unfortunately, Matt Duchene took a strange fall after a hit from a Minnesota player. He had to be helped off of the ice, and did not put any weight on his right leg. Right now, it is being listed as a right ankle injury. Duchene just returned from injury a couple weeks ago. It will be very bad news if the Avs lose him for any length of time, as he is one of the most explosive offensive forces on the team.
Final Score: 7-1 CO
-For the first time in a long time, the Avs drew several penalties. They had eight minutes of power play time. They have now had about 198 minutes of power play time. This is 84 minutes less with the man advantage that the team leading in that category (Philadelphia).
-While the Avs stayed with the pack, the LA Kings also won, keeping the Avs out of a playoff spot.
-13 different members of the Colorado Avalanche had points in tonight’s game.
-Jamie McGinn stayed hot, scoring his third goal in two games.
-The season series between Colorado and Minnesota ended tied 3-3. The Avs outscored 15-7.
-For anyone who does not follow the Colorado Avalanche twitter feed: tonight was Varly’s 100th career start, and he has tied Patrick Roy for most shut outs on the road in a single season by an Avalanche goaltender (4)
1) Steve Downie
Winger had 3 assists, including one on the GWG
2) Semyon Varlamov
Made 21 saves and won his 20th game of the year.
3) Cody McLeod
Winger set up the first goal, and then made a beautiful move to score the seventh on a breakaway.