2017-18 team-by-team NHL season outlook: Previewing the Colorado Avalanche

Just like that, another NHL season is around the corner.

While the Pittsburgh Penguins are still passing the Stanley Cup from town to town and thinking "three-peat," the rest of the league, including the upstart Vegas Golden Knights, is preparing to dethrone the champs -- or at least pretend to do so -- in 2017-18.

In the first of a series of team-by-team summer reviews and season previews, here's a glimpse at the ...

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado was historically bad in 2016-17, finishing 22-56-4, easily the worst record in the NHL with their 48 points their fewest since moving to Denver for the 1995-96 season.

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Semyon Varlamov and the Avs have a low bar to top after a last season. USATSI

Their 166 goals scored hardly came close to matching the 278 they surrendered, and the Avalanche obviously ended the season without a playoff run to show for it. They enter 2017-18, Jared Bednar's second at the helm of the staff, looking to at least show a semblance of competence in the Central Division. The bar is low, and until a collection of long-term talent surfaces as the core of the roster, it will remain that way.

The moves

Key additions: F Colin Wilson (trade with Predators), G Jonathan Bernier (Ducks), F Nail Yakupov (Blues)

Key losses: G Jeremy Smith (Hurricanes), D Patrick Wiercioch (Canucks)

Wilson is the biggest catch for Colorado at the cost of a fourth-round draft pick. He adds a little pop to the center position, and he could be in line for added responsibility with the Avs depending on whether a certain somebody is traded away from the center position. Yakupov could also be an intriguing one to watch in another new setting. But all in all, Colorado didn't do a whole lot this summer to quiet concerns of a roster lacking in high-end contributors.

The verdict

The biggest story surrounding Colorado's season right now isn't even whether the Avalanche can be significantly more competitive than they were in 2016-17 (hint: they probably can't). It's whether Avs general manager Joe Sakic will ever pull the trigger on a trade of his team's most promising young player, Matt Duchene -- a trade for which Duchene's camp has not-so-quietly advocated. The end result of all the offseason Duchene talk could be the thing that sets the tone for what's already bound to be a rocky Avalanche season (no pun intended).

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Matt Duchene remains part of the Avalanche entering the latter stages of summer. USATSI

Aside from the Duchene drama, the Avs didn't do themselves many favors this offseason. The time Sakic spent either ignoring or turning down offers for his top center wasn't exactly devoted to bringing in any formidable help outside of, perhaps, Wilson. Bernier gives the team a nice backup option -- and one that could be put to use considering Semyon Varlamov's injury history -- in net, but otherwise, this is still a unit set to struggle. Maybe there are some new signs of life if Duchene sticks around and rebounds from a down 2016-17 campaign, but no one -- not even the Avs -- would be smart to anticipate much more than another year of fighting to stay out of the Central cellar. 

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