Summer Skate: Avalanche
Is Colorado banking too much on Semyon Varlamov repeating 2013-14 magic?
Although the weather outside doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the league-wide tour and spotlight one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
Everything went exactly according to plan for the Colorado Avalanche in Patrick Roy's inaugural season as head coach. If anything, it went too well. The team, which had only last summer been granted the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, entered the 2013-14 season expected to struggle, if not quite to the same extent as the previous season. The pundits who expected the Avs to contend, much less appear in the playoffs, were few and far between.
Instead, nearly all of their promising young forwards made giant leaps at once, with Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon and Paul Stastny all contributing at least 60 points to the fourth-most prolific offense in the league, while Semyon Varlamov carried the entire defensive corps, previously identified as the team's biggest weakness, and made the offense count.
Trending up: Nathan MacKinnon, C