Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Colorado Avalanche
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. My 14th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Gone – Brandon Gormley, Taylor Beck, Nate Guenin, Borna Rendulic, Andrew Agozzino, Shawn Matthias, Zach Redmond, Mikkel Boedker, Reto Berra, Nick Holden, Roman Will, Joey Hishon, Patrick Bordeleau, Jack Skille, Brad Stuart, Jesse Winchester
Impact of changes – For a third straight season the Avs struggled with playing the possession game, as more often than not they were pinned down in their own zone. Other than Eric Gelinas, every single Colorado player posted a negative Corsi! No other team can say that. None of the players brought in have a history of strong possession numbers, and as long as Patrick Roy remains the coach I can’t say that Colorado’s fortunes will turn around.
They upgraded some experience with Tyutin, but he’s slowed down tremendously and I think that Avs’ fans will find this out for themselves in short order. They upgraded potential, as Grimaldi and Wiercioch have some upside and Colborne is coming off a career season as he enters his prime. But none of these changes are going to have any real impact on the team.
Ready for full-time – Calvin Pickard finally has a one-way contract and the backup job to himself. Much like Calgary’s backup (Chad Johnson, the Arizona backup (Louis Domingue) and the St. Louis backup (Carter Hutton), Pickard owners could enjoy more games than expected thanks to playing behind a fragile No.1. A ‘must-own’ handcuff in most leagues if you already own Semyon Varlamov.
Rocco Grimaldi is a small, skilled player and so we have to wait to see what we have. He could be a Steve Sullivan or a poor-man’s Martin St. Louis – in which case we’d have to wait until he’s 26 or 27 to see (i.e. four more years). Or, the more likely scenario, he could be a Nathan Gerbe (i.e. an NHL player, but not a fantasy one). Or he could be a Simon Gamache (a fringe NHLer who gave up and went to Europe). We won’t really know for sure until 2019 or 2020 – and by that time, if he’s even remotely fantasy relevant he will just get plucked off the waiver wire when he starts getting hot. The best we can hope for this season is that he gets top nine ice time with a quality linemate or two, and some flashes of hot production. Just something to tease us for the future. If we don’t see any of that then it’s that much easier to figure he’ll go the way of the Gerbe or the Gamache.
Nikita Zadorov has already been a full-time NHLer, but last year he was finally eligible to play in the AHL so the Avs wisely sent him there. He finished with 29 points in 52 games and an astonishing 90 penalty minutes. If he makes it, keep expectations low for offense. The PIM are intriguing.
Chris Bigras was a responsible and productive defenseman at the AHL level and when he was called up in January the Avs kept him up for the duration. He wasn’t overly impressive in terms of possession numbers (but when did that stop Patrick Roy?), but with limited minutes against the other team’s fourth line he did well enough. He has offensive upside, but I consider Zadorov, Wiercioch and of course Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson ahead of him. Eric Gelinas could be ahead of him too, in terms of power-play pecking order. So he’s a long-term prospect to say the least, for fantasy purposes.
Mikko Rantanen had an amazing North American pro debut, pounding out 60 points in 52 games to lead San Antonio in scoring. His odds of making the team are about 50-50, but his talent is so high-end and he’s so close to being ready that he won’t be held back for long – perhaps just a few weeks of AHL time before he’s called up for good.
J.T. Compher is in a similar situation as Rantanen. Acquired in the Ryan O’Reilly deal, Compher left college a Hobey Baker finalist after playing on the top line in the nation with Kyle Connor (now with Winnipeg) and Tyler Motte (now with Chicago). He a year-and-a-half older than Rantanen and probably just as NHL-ready. As with Rantanen, I think Compher sees at least a few weeks in the AHL before getting called up for good. It’s a question of injuries and roster space. It would be a waste of their talent to have them stick and then play eight minutes per game.
Fantasy Outlook – A real nice, young NHL team with a lot of upside. However, we won’t see much of that upside under the current coach unless, as noted above, the key stars really break out. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait for a new coaching system to see for sure. The prospect pipeline is better than it was last year thanks to some savvy trades. But if Bigras, Rantanen, Pickard and Compher are on the NHL roster this season then the bones will have been picked clean. Nothing left.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C+)
- Ramblings: Power Forwards are the Worst, Gusev, Hughes Bros, Rielly & J.T. Miller (Oct. 16)
- Ramblings: Early team reviews; injury updates; Gustav Nyquist - October 17
- Top 100 Keeper League Defensemen - October 2019
- Injury Ward: Byfuglien News, McCann, Doughty, Eberle, Hischier, & Forsberg
- Forum Buzz: Early Season Pick-Up Guide, Owning Buff, Saros, Arvidsson, and Fowler
- Top 200 Fantasy Prospect Forwards - October 2019
- Eastern Edge: Around the Metro this season
- Capped: Early returns on a cost-per-point basis