Good morning, Stars fans! Two more days until the weekend!
I thought it would be helpful if I were to do a brief overview of every Central Division team’s moves as a quick refresher and to expand on whether the team will be better or worse in regards to their moves. I will also stack them up against the Stars and show you how the Stars series against each team may end up panning out. Due to the success of the first one, this series will see it’s way to the end!
The first report was yesterday and was in regards to the Chicago Blackhawks. Click here to view that article.
The newest edition will focus on the Colorado Avalanche:
The Colorado Avalanche’s 2014 Offseason Moves:
What they did:
After pulling off one of the most impressive bounce-backs the NHL has ever seen and going from last place in the Western Conference during the 2012-2013 lockout season to winning the gritty and hard-nosed Central division in the 2013-2014 season with an astounding 52-22-8 record and a brand new coach, the Colorado Avalanche and their fans were looking for and expecting at the least a Stanley Cup appearance.
When that idea fell through after a Game 7 loss in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Minnesota Wild, a wild card team, many Avalanche supporters simply felt lost and confused. That being said, the offseason almost caught them by complete surprise.
Throughout their offseason, the Avalanche found a few new names to bring in. They signed on forwards Jesse Winchester from Florida and Ben Street from Calgary as well as defensemen Zach Redmond from Winnipeg and Bruno Gervais from Philadelphia. These names will help fill in the possible departure of Ryan O’Reilly and the loss of big-name center Paul Stastny who went to the St. Louis Blues.
But the biggest name that seemed to astound everyone was when the Avalanche signed on veteran forward Jarome Iginla from Boston’s clutches.
Iginla, 37, produced a beyond impressive 61 point season in Boston last year, and has proven that age is merely a number tagged on you. This also included a 78 game season, meaning he missed a mere four games throughout the regular season. He will serve as a fantastic leader and be a veteran presence in the Av’s locker room that held a 26.7 average age last year, one of the youngest in the NHL.
The Avalanche also traded away two draft picks to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for d-man Brad Stuart. Stuart had an off year and was put on the trade block towards the end of the year. Colorado claimed him on July 1st for a 2016 2nd-round pick and a 2017 6th-round pick. He will help add to the already skilled and aging Avalanche blue line and build up the younger prospects as well.
Better or worse?:
The Avalanche can have a thorough debate on whether next year will be brighter or not. But when you win the Central Division, the question lies at “Can you get any better?”.
Patrick Roy, the Avalanche head coach, believes that their offseason moves were a turn for the better. He said, “I think we improved the team in an important way.”
The loss of Stastny, to a divisional rival no less, was a major shot to their presence in the dot and their skill down the middle. O’Reilly may be another depletion from their center position, but their farm system has proven itself and it doesn’t look like they will have any problems in the dot.
But the addition of Jarome Iginla will definitely beef up their lineup in more than one way, and Brad Stuart will boost their blue line in a positive way that will make the defense very threatening along with the likes of young guns Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson. But will the new recruits be able to salvage the loss of the Avalanche’s key centers? Most likely, but with the importance of the dot being controlled, Colorado may see a struggle next year and it may take a little while for their dot to recover.
How will the Stars fare?:
The Dallas Stars will meet up with the Colorado Avalanche five times this season, three on the road and two at home. Two of these away games will be the second half of a back-to-back and both times the premiere game is at home, so travel will be necessary. The Stars went 4-5-1 in the back-to-back department last year when regarding the second game. Those numbers aren’t horrific and the Stars will face another 10 back-to-back situations in the upcoming season.
The Stars will definitely control the dot against Colorado with Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Cody Eakin, and Vernon Fiddler taking the reins. Expect the Stars to win at least 65% of the face-offs and be able to set up in the offensive zone rather easily.
But the one thing the Stars cannot seem to figure out is Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov gave the Dallas Stars fits last season, including the Stars 4-3 loss in which they more than doubled the Av’s shots, 44-21. Varlamov stoned the Stars cleanly and put an abrupt end to the Stars three-win streak.
The Stars defense is also going to be an issue against the Avalanche’s high-powered offense that is set to commence next season, but the Stars may be able to counteract them with their own offensive arsenal.
The Stars went 1-3-1 against the Avs last year, but this year looks like it may be a different story. The Stars could very easily win three, maybe four of their competitions.
Comments below on how you feel about the Avalanche’s pickups and if you feel the Stars will be able to compete with them next year. Go Stars.