They are a young team in search of a good captain to replace the experienced Adam Foote. The Avs are still in the process of building a solid team. With young players and little veteran leadership, the team turns to its young scoring studs. With Matt Duchene, Erik Johnson, and Paul Stastny can the Avs avoid a repeat performance of last year’s post-All Star Game implosion?
- Matt Duchene – Finally coming into his own, the center is the dominant force for his team and if he can consistently contribute to his team’s scoring, they stand to improve upon their standings in the Western Conference.
- Young Guns – The team is almost entirely in its twenties and their inexperience speaks volumes. This team has not tasted sweet victory at the hands of Lord Stanley (with the exception of Giguere) and as a result does not know what it takes to be a cup contender.
- Subpar Blue Line – The team picked up a much needed d-man in Jan Hejda but with 6 goals last season, the changeover to offensive player is non-existent.
- Gabriel Landeskog – The number 2 pick in the NHL draft, he posted good numbers with the Kitchener Rangers ( 36 G/30A ). After being the big fish in the little pond, the question of will he flourish or flounder in the NHL remains to be seen. His leadership abilities as captain of the Kitchener Rangers mirror those of another former Kitchener captain (cough,cough: Mike Richards). He plays a good game as a defensive forward and these skills will be greatly appreciated on a team that has a less than stellar blue line crew.
- Semyon Varlamov – the guy has been injury prone but if he can remain healthy, he stands a chance of finding success in his new home. Unlike previous seasons, Varly has a veteran mentor in Jean-Sebastian Giguere to guide him. Giguere was the Conn Smythe winner on the 2003 Stanley Cup finals on the losing Anaheim Ducks but has experience in two Stanley Cup Finals. Although Varlamov may have been traded to the underdog team, he has the chance to grow and hone his skills in Colorado.