CSN Chicago will unveil a preview each day for every Central Division team leading up to the NHL's season-opener. First up: Colorado Avalanche.
The abrupt resignation of Patrick Roy in August stunned the hockey world, but it may be a blessing in disguise for Colorado. The Avalanche were by far the worst puck possession team in the league last year, controlling only 44.18 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, and also ranked second-to-last in 2014-15 with a 43.25 percentage.
Semyon Varlamov often unfairly took the blame despite the Avalanche owning an even-strength save percentage of 92.76, which ranked slightly above the league average, while facing the second-most shot attempts last season.
Jared Bednar gives the Avalanche a breath of fresh air and brings a style better suited for this group.
While he doesn't have any head coaching experience in the National Hockey League, Bednar helped the Columbus Blue Jackets' affiliate win a Calder Cup this past season by playing an up-tempo brand of hockey. That perfectly fits this team's identity with core guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, who's a breakout candidate after a strong showing at the World Cup of Hockey.
Factor in the addition of Mikko Rantanen, their No. 10 overall draft pick in 2015, and versatile forward Joe Colborne, who set career highs in goals (19), assists (25) and points (44) last season with the Calgary Flames, and the Avalanche have a sneaky-good forward group.
It also means the Avalanche have the potential to spend significantly less time in their own zone and alleviate some pressure off a blue line that didn't get better, but didn't get worse with the free-agent signings of depth players Patrick Wiercioch and Fedor Tyutin.
The Avalanche were five points shy of clinching the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference a year ago, so it's certainly not out of the question that they can become a sleeper team in this division.