It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.
Team: Colorado Avalanche
How they did last season: 39-39-4 (82 points) 6th in the Central, 9th in the Western Conference. Did not make the playoffs.
Notable acquisitions: C Joe Colborne, D Fedor Tyutin, D Patrick Wiercioch
Notable departures: LW Mikkel Boedker, C Shawn Matthias, D Zach Redmond, D Nick Holden, G Reto Berra
When they will play the Caps: Analysis: Oct. 18 in Washington; March 29 in Colorado
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Analysis: Just over a month before the start of training camp, the outlook for the Colorado Avalanche changed dramatically with the resignation of head coach and VP of Hockey Operations Patrick Roy.
As a coach, Roy has only had one successful season and since then has shown an inability to build a system for the modern NHL or tailor it to the roster he has. The Avalanche were dead last in the league last season with an abysmal 44.2 Corsi percentage. They’ve been a horrible possession team since Roy took over making his lone run to the playoffs look more like a fluke than anything else.
By allowing so many more shots, you allow your opponents to dictate the play and your team becomes reliant on the goalie. It’s no coincidence that the one year Roy actually did bring the Avalanche to the playoffs was the same year Semyon Varlamov posted a career-high .927 save percentage.
But even if you dismiss analytics, it’s clear when you watch Colorado play that coaching was an issue. Breakouts were ugly and uncoordinated while defensively it looked like there was no system at all, just five players skating around in their own end hoping nothing bad would happen.
So while Roy's timing is unfortunate as it comes so late in the summer, the end result should positive for the team's possession and defense becasue, frankly, it would be hard to get worse.
The next head coach will step into a team in desperate need of coaching on the blue line, but is brimming with offensive talent. You can absolutely build a team around young forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. At only 20 years old, MacKinnon registered 52 points last season and he is only getting better, as is the 25-year-old Duchene and the 23-year-old Landeskog.
Is it ideal that your three best offensive players are under the age of 26? Perhaps not, but it means the future is very bright.
Season prediction: It's hard to fathom that a team could lose it's coach in August and be better off, but that could very well be the case for the Avalanche. This year's training camp is delayed because of the World Cup, meaning the new coach will have more time to prepare. Any NHL coach worth his salt should be able to improve Colorado's defense and possession numbers. Add in the team's young offensive talent and it looks like the Avalanche may be better this season.
The bad news is that Colorado is still in the Central Division. Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas and Nashville are all very good and Minnesota just improved with the hiring of Bruce Boudreau. So even if the Avalanche are better, they're going to have a hard time supplanting any of these teams in the standings.
Colorado will likely miss the playoffs again this season, but this year will feel different. This year, there will be more defensive structure and a Joe Sakic will lay a blue print down for the future.
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2016-2017 NHL TEAM PREVIEWS
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens (coming Aug. 19)
Ottawa Senators (coming Aug. 20)
Tampa Bay Lightning (coming Aug. 21)
Toronto Maple Leafs (coming Aug. 22)
Carolina Hurricanes (coming Aug. 23)
Columbus Blue Jackets (coming Aug. 24)
New Jersey Devils (coming Aug. 25)
New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)