Friday, July 10, 2009

Number Nineteen

Upon the retirement of not only one of the greats in Denver sports, but of one of the greats in hockey history, it is difficult to quantify the enormous impact made by Joe Sakic.

Many terms have been bandied about in attempts at describing how great number nineteen was at what he did, and all are appropriate. Leader. Scorer. Teacher. It is a true rarity to find a person who is not only excellent at what they do, but aware of how their skill and influence can positively effect the people around them. Joe Sakic embodies this ideal.

What I'll miss most about Joe is not necessarily his incredible reliability under pressure, but that his teams were always well prepared and fought hard. Many great and legendary hockey players have passed through Denver, but without a doubt the Avalanche would not have found the success they did without Sakic's leadership.

It is a testament to his success that discussions about his career have never seemed to revolve around his numbers (625 goals, 1016 assists, 1641 points), but about his influence and class. He was a complete hockey player in every way.

As he rides off into the sunset after a brilliant career which included two Stanley Cup championships and an Olympic gold medal and MVP, let's not forget what a treat it was to witness one of the great leaders and champions the NHL has ever seen.

Hockey in Colorado won't be the same without him.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What If's...

I couldn't help but notice a couple of players still floating around that the Avalanche could use, provided Big Stan Kroenke were to lift his edict that has the team chopping down salary like a cane farmer in the Amazon.

Half of the fun of hockey is creating, and then believing in completely unsubstantiated rumors. I tend to believe this is what has kept the people of Toronto going all these years. In going through the scratch and dent pile of remaining free agents/disgruntled veterans, I managed to find a couple who, if the situation was right, would fit nicely on the Avs.

Dany Heatley

Tell me this guy wouldn't destroy the world getting served up by Paul Stastny for a few years. Sure, the rest of the hockey world believes Heatley is some kind of evil mongoloid who has ruined Ottawa. But has anyone considered that maybe Heatley wants out because he's playing in Ottawa?

Let's see...wedging away a disgruntled superstar stuck on a Canadian team that appears to be blaming him for the downfall of their mighty franchise...sounds like a job for Pierre Lacroix!

Juri Hudler

This little punk from Detroit looks and plays a helluva lot like Marek Svatos...if Svatos still had two good shoulders. Hudler is currently taking the Wings to arbitration, and there is a slight chance they might not meet his demands and he could be claimed in a trade. Should this scenario happen the Avs might be well served to take a chance on this speedy little sniper from hell, if only to cheese hard core Wingnuts.

The only question would be finding an occasionally spectacular, often injured player to send their way. (Uwe Krupp anyone?) What about...Marek Svatos?

Alex Kovalev

Need a moody, selfish, occasionally spectacular, highly paid 70 point scorer who is being run out of town by his or-gan-eye-zation? Look no further than Alex Kovalev. Something tells me the Avs would already have him if there were no salary cap and this was 2001. If only because it would barely make any sense.

Brendan Morrison

Unless I'm missing something and he sill has no knees, or Dallas has already signed him. The Avalanche NEED a guy like Brendan Morrison, even if he is in a wheelchair that he has to control with his lips. Witness Dallas's disintegration after Morrison went out for the season last year. Yes, he's a center and the Avs don't need centers...but really Matt Duschene isn't going to be ready for at least a year. It's something to think about...

Maxim Afinogenov

Maybe his glorious coming out party a couple years back was the product of playing with Daniel Briere, maybe it wasn't. Maybe Afinogenov isn't going to Russia to play, maybe he will. And maybe the Avalanche could use a forward who is still in his prime, who has good hands, and if he played for the Avs we would have plenty of good times making fun of the fact that he looks like a drunk Prince Valliant in his yahoo profile pic:;_ylt=Av_faM3PymUUrBIRraW3_D1ivLYF

Moving on...

Sergei Zubov

Hall of Fame caliber...still unsigned...moves the puck well even when standing still...say, maybe the Avs could get a deal on the old warhorse.

Martin Skoula

(Okay I just threw him in so that you could say "Skoula Sucks")

As you can see, there is still some value to be had if the Avalanche had the wherewithal, and somehow lose all of their discipline, like the Rangers do around this time of year, every year.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Weeklies

After what was an extremely active week for the Avalanche in terms of signings the youth movement is officially on in Denver. Little more than a week ago things looked bleak for the team from The Mountains, (granted this rebuild will take time) but as we have learned never count out the Avalanche front office in terms of scouting and bussing players out of town.

-The Mullet Heads to The Beach

I must say it was a bit of a sad 4th of July at DNP HQ. Seeing Ryan Smyth pack up and head to Los Angeles was a bit difficult to take. Denver will miss his heart, work ethic, and most notably his mighty flowing pelt of glory. Take heed Avalanchos! Mullets with that kind of integrity don’t come around very often.

On the positive side, Pierre Lacroix and crew managed to land some upside aside from dumping the remaining years of Smitty’s 5 year, 31.25 million dollar contract.

At the ripe old age of 23, Kyle Quincey possesses size and awareness, especially from the point on the power play. In leading the Kings in defensive scoring last year (38 points in 72 games) Quincey showed promise. His minus-5 plus/minus requires improvement, but the hope here is that as Quincey steps into his mid-20’s he will round into a decent stopper. Failing that his price tag of $550,000 per year ain’t too shabby.

To say Tom Preissing is a bit of a toss-in on top of this deal is well, a bit of an understatement. Two years off of a career best plus-40 with Ottawa, Preissing struggled to play 22 games with the Kings last season. The mystery with Preissing is whether is if he can return to form as a defensive asset, or if his large numbers from two years ago were the product of a high-powered offense in Ottawa.

Just as playing behind a good defense can skew a goalie’s numbers, so can a defenseman have his numbers skewed by playing with a scoring offense. After being named a Hobey Baker finalist out of Colorado College in 2003, Preissing jumped out of the gate fast in San Jose, which eventually landed him a good contract in Ottawa, and consequently a good season. Then came the doldrums in Los Angeles. If he plays in Colorado, he should be counted on as a serviceable defenseman, but at age 30 he is looking at the downside of his prime, so don’t expect big numbers from Preissing this season, assuming he gets into the lineup.

-Mister Anderson

It has bothered me in recent years whenever the Avalanche bring in a new goalie to “challenge” Peter Budaj for the starting goaltender position. Let’s face facts people, Peter Budaj is not a starting goalie. He never was. If he were he would not require motivation in the form of the Jose Theodore’s and Andrew Raycroft’s of the world.

This brings us to Craig Anderson. At $1.8 million Anderson brings with him upside in the form of a tasty .924 save percentage in 31 games as Tomas Vokoun’s backup in Florida. He isn’t necessarily a top-flight goalie, but he does bring with him a good work ethic and the ability to get hot and carry his team, as was evidenced in periods late last season when Vokoun was out with injuries.

Anderson’s numbers won’t be any better than they were in Florida (2.71 GAA), as he’ll man the pipes behind a spotty defense once again. Still, the Avalanche now have a goalie who can make some stops, and with his rather trim salary leaves room for a potential Jonas Gustavsson signing, who for all intents and purposes is still available despite indications he may be heading in the direction of Dallas.

-Alex Tanguay Part Deux-Do we really need this rumor?

Of all the teams trying to make a dent this free agency Montreal has to be on the top of the list. In landing the likes of Mike Cammaleri, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez the Habs are once again pushing for the Stanley Cup before the people of Hab-land grow even more impatient and start burning cars.

With the addition of Gomez (and his disgustingly large contract considering how he’s worth maybe 65 points in a good year) as the second line center behind Thomas Plekanec, it appears Tanguay is getting bumped from the top two lines. Furthermore,the additions on Gionta and Cammaleri complicate matters.

So let’s look at what we do know:

1. Tanguay is capable of playing both left wing and center.

2. The Avalanche, who have an overabundance of centermen (Sakic-assuming he returns-, Stastny, Duschene, Hensick, Stoa) are thin at left wing (Wolski, McCloud, Gagliardi).

3. Say, maybe the Avalanche could use Alex Tanguay! Go Avs!

(I love hockey rumors)

Could Tanguay return to the Avs? Certainly.

Will Tanguay return to the Avs? I doubt it.

Even with the departure of Ryan Smyth the Avalanche are still looking to recover money. And the real question here is if the Avalanche are looking at bringing in Tanguay do they want to take the chance of trading away future talent to sign on a less than a point-per-game player for good money?

If yes, then they will have less room to rebuild.

If no, then more power to them.