With the goal in mind to erase the previous season from his memory, Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic went out and signed a couple of offensive weapons. Colin Wilson and Nail Yakupov will add to the overall depth of a young Avalanche forward group, and will make the team better overall.
In terms of what the Avalanche offense did last season, it can only be described as abysmal and frustrating to watch. The team finished dead last in the league in goals and power play goals. (They were also dead last in goals allowed, and second to last in power play goals allowed.) They finished with the worst points percentage of the shootout era.
However, as with most cases, there are some positives that can come out of a negative situation. Players who made an impact were Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost, who spent the majority of the season playing for the University of North Dakota.
Although the season did not go the way the team wanted, MacKinnon showed on multiple occasions that he is ready to do serious work for the team. Throughout the season, MacKinnon raised his game, finishing the season with a team-leading 53 points. MacKinnon is the type of player who makes everyone else on his line better. Rantanen and MacKinnon worked together for some beautiful goals during the season, such as the two goals below against the Edmonton Oilers.
Rantanen had a breakout season, leading the Avalanche with 20 goals on the season, finishing third on the team with a total of 38 points. After spending time with the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL, Rantanen came back to the Avalanche with a newfound confidence, and it showed on the ice.
In a season that was nothing but bad news, Rantanen and MacKinnon improved their chemistry throughout the season, combining for multiple highlight reel goals.
After a successful tenure at the University of North Dakota, Jost made the decision that it was time to make the jump to the NHL and gain valuable experience with the Avalanche.
Jost racked up his first official NHL goal against the Minnesota Wild, the same team that eliminated the Avalanche in the 2013-14 NHL Playoffs in seven games.
Along with the rising potential of these Avalanche players, the team secured a couple of offensive weapons during the offseason – the first being Wilson of the Nashville Predators.
Wilson has an incredible ability to see the ice to make passes that can create opportunities. Along with the ability to be a playmaker, Wilson creates opportunities for himself with his speed and sheer size. At 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, he’s one of the larger forwards on Jared Bednar’s bench.
The Avalanche also secured a low-risk signing in Yakupov, a former first-round pick who has been unable to reach his potential with a team. He brings plenty of speed to the team, as well as his own sense of creativity. He is the type of player who possesses a shoot-first mentality and always wants the puck on his stick for that big play.
Of course Colorado still has captain Gabriel Landeskog and (for now) Matt Duchene on the front lines offensively. Duchene has long been the subject of trade rumors, but his 41 points last year were good for second on the team and he led the club in points two years ago.
For all the negatives from last season, the Avalanche offense appears headed in the right direction as the 2017-18 campaign draws near.