“I’m ready to say the Avs are officially scary.”
“The Avs are going to be a powerhouse”
“A Byram-Makar top pair for the next 10+ years is gonna be a ton of fun to watch.”
It’s become obvious that the Avalanche are suddenly a force to be reckoned with. While the reactions of well-known writers Craig Custance and Charlie O’Connor of the Athletic or Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports are by no means a guarantee that Colorado is on its way to being a powerhouse, the truth is, these are calculated predictions—ones that will more than likely become a reality in the near future.
Despite Colorado’s sudden success, the true formation of this current squad has actually come through a gradual build of valuable assets by General Manager Joe Sakic.
Just 26 months removed from the worst season in franchise history and the worst NHL season in two decades by any team altogether, the Avalanche thanks to Sakic, have completely revamped their roster into one that is a “powerhouse” or “officially scary.”
One that could include “a Byram-Makar top pair” for many years and one that sports arguably the most dominant line in hockey.
Sakic’s fourth overall selection of Bowen Byram, the top-rated defenseman in the draft, was the final piece of Colorado’s new-look blueline. One that has transformed into a young and agile core that better suits the current NHL.
The selection used to draft Byram was the final big piece in the blockbuster deal that sent Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators almost two years ago. The very same trade that gave Colorado Sam Girard, a top pair 21-year-old defenseman that is still blossoming into something even more special
Furthermore, Sakic used Colorado’s own 16th overall selection to take center Alex Newhook. The Boston College commit is coming off an exceptional season for the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL. He dominated the league during the regular season and the playoffs, leading the way in points in both categories.
Newhook will enter the NCAA oozing with potential and similar to Cale Makar two years ago, the Avs have the ability to be patient with the forward and allow him the opportunity to grow at the College level. If all goes to plan, Newhook could one day find himself centering the second line behind superstar Nathan MacKinnon.
Sakic and his scouting staff made six more selections on Saturday. They took defenseman Drew Helleson, who is also committed to Boston College next season, center Matthew Stienburg, right wings Alex Beaucage, Sasha Mutala and Luka Burzan, and goaltender Trent Miner.
With the free agency courting period officially underway, Sakic and the Avs management staff will be in touch with its targeted unrestricted free agents. The market is full of complementary scoring forwards this year with Joe Pavelski, Anders Lee, Gustav Nyquist, Marcus Johansson, Mats Zuccarello as well as superstars Artemi Panarin and Duchene all available.
The Avalanche can also add scoring forwards to round up their top six by trading defenseman Tyson Barrie, who has one year remaining on his contract. The addition of Byram and the playoff performance from Makar has made the veteran blueliner expendable given his future contract demands as well as Colorado’s need for scoring depth.
While the complete roster that will take the ice at the Pepsi Center for opening night against the Calgary Flames on October 3 is not yet determined, the Avs are expected to be a top team in the Western Conference, and one that will look to build on its seven playoff wins in 2019.
And once again, it’s all thanks to Sakic.