ESPN places Avalanche #1 in long-term power rankings

May 2, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his goal in the second period against the San Jose Sharks in game four of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, ESPN released a set of power rankings for all 31 NHL teams. However, in this list, rather than focusing on just the 2019-20 season, the writers looked at which teams were in the best position for the next three years. The Colorado Avalanche topped the list.

The rankings took four factors into consideration. First, the team’s current roster. Second, the team’s prospects. Next, they considered the salary cap and contract situation. Finally, they graded the front office and coaching staff.

Based on those factors, the Avalanche checked in with an overall score of 87.8, good enough to beat out the Tampa Bay Lightning (87.7) by just a tenth of a point.

“Everyone in the NHL is talking about the Avalanche these days,” said ESPN hockey analyst Emily Kaplan. “They are loaded enough to win now, and their best players are young and cheap; case in point is Nathan MacKinnon, a top-three player in the league, playing on a ridiculous bargain at $6.3 million through 2023. Eventually, these guys will need new contracts, and that will test GM Joe Sakic’s discipline.”

ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski added his own thoughts, including where he has concern about the Avalanche.

“About the only point of concern for the Avalanche at this point is whether they’ll meet the expectations that have been placed on them,” said Wyshynski. “Because otherwise, they have a young core that’s the envy of the league, and a salary cap outlook for the next three seasons that is equally enviable. Coach Jared Bednar and GM Joe Sakic have rightfully earned their admiration with the group they’ve constructed — now let’s see what it does on the ice.”

There is no doubt the Avalanche have a lot of pressure on them for the upcoming season. There is a spotlight on them that has not existed for several years, including the fourth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup. With the preseason underway on Tuesday, all eyes will now turn to the talent on the ice to see if the Avs can live up to the hype.