|Paul Stastny (AP)|
Whether it was in Quebec as the Nordiques or Colorado, the Avalanche have done a solid job drafting over the years. The problem has been keeping those guys around, especially on defense.
The future is looking good with Landeskog, the reigning Calder Trophy winner. He was very impressive in his first season and figures to only grow. Stastny has dropped in production a little the last two years but is still a 20-goal, 50-plus points guy. Then you add in Vrbata, who was traded away at just 21 years old, and his 35-goal season and you have potential. It's not an amazing top line, but certainly not the worst you'll see.
Tanguay hasn't been quite the same goal-scorer that he was when he left the Avs after 2005-06 but he has continued to put up points largely off of assists (13-36=49 in 64 games last season). Along with O'Reilly's play-making ways (37 assists last season), David Jones would likely enjoy this, probably adding to back-to-back 20-goal seasons.
As you can see, the scoring depth stretches to the third line for the Avs. I flirted with the idea of putting Duchene on the second line on the wing but the need for a center on the third was more important. Hejduk is a career-long Av in the twilight while Stewart is looking to rebound. Stewart has to flip wings, it certainly won't be Hejduk. The potential is very big but this line could bust, too.
Offensive Scratch: T.J. Galiardi
This might be where it gets tough for the Avs. Shattenkirk brings the scoring touch while Regehr the punishing defense. This is the start of a strong defensive corps that features five players who are no longer in Colorado.
Starting to see that this defense is going to be pretty punishing. Both Boychuck and Gilbert are capable of eating up a lot of quality defensive minutes.
Defensive Scratch: John-Michael Liles
Just in case they feel like a little more offense is needed from the blue line, Liles is here. The former fifth-rounder had 7 goals and 20 assists last season for the Maple Leafs in 66 games.
Not a lot of people remember that Thomas was actually drafted by the Nordiques in 1994, but he was. Obviously he never played for the Avalanche in real life, but here he is the starter, assuming we can talk him out of that sabbatical. The backup is a battle between Peter Budaj and Brent Johnson but Budaj wins based on the younger age.