The NHL’s busiest off-ice time of the season is upon us, with next weekend’s entry draft followed by the July 1 opening of the free agency period. This year, there is additional activity with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who will pluck one player from each of the 30 existing teams Wednesday, during the 2017 NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
In Colorado, it’s a particularly busy and important time of the year for — ahem — the laughingstock of the league. The Avalanche, coming off its worst season in club history (22-56-2) and having producing the fewest points (48) since the expansion Atlanta Thrashers in 1999-2000 (Denver’s NCAA hockey team had 11 more wins in 38 fewer games than the Avs) is understandably thinking about change throughout its player personnel. Significant change. Perhaps even drastic change.
General manager Joe Sakic has said his roster needs to get younger and the blue-line must be rebuilt. But it goes beyond that, considering the Avs finished last in average goals-for (2.01) and goals-against (3.37) last season. The 23-man opening-night roster in October could feature half as many new faces, and popular standouts Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog could be playing elsewhere.
To begin this key stretch of the off-season, the Avs will lose a player in Wednesday’s expansion draft. The good teams are worried about losing a player to the Golden Knights. The bad teams don’t have much to lose. But league-wide trading won’t heat up until the expansion draft ends.
So who will Colorado lose? Based on Sunday’s NHL-revealed protected lists, my guess is that Colorado will part with goalie Calvin Pickard, forward Mikhail Grigorenko or defenseman Mark Barbario. First- and second-year players and unsigned prospects are exempt from the expansion draft.
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Source:: The Denver Post