2009 NHL Preview: Colorado Avalanche

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the Colorado Avalanche…

Team Play: ISSUE – Passing the torch. Over the summer, Avs’ team captain and icon Joe Sakic retired. Plagued by injuries, Sakic played in just 59 games over the last two seasons. Hoping to fill the (enormous) void, Colorado took center Matt Duchene with the third overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. While it’s patently unfair to compare the 18-year-old to the future Hall-of-Famer, Duchene will simply have to deal with it. Much will be expected of the youngster this season, as the Avalanche begin the climb back towards the playoffs and respectability. To that end, the Avs have made some sound offseason moves. First and foremost, they improved in the crease by signing free agent goalie Craig Anderson from Florida. Next, Colorado shored up a rather forlorn defensive corps by trading co-leading scorer Ryan Smyth to Los Angeles for d-men Kyle Quincey and Tom Preissing and a 5th-round pick in 2010. These are significant steps in the right direction, but team health will play an equal role in the Avs’ improvement this season. Here’s hoping the injury bug doesn’t bite Colorado in 2009-10 like it did last season, in which the Avalanche used 13 defensemen and Milan Hejduk was the only skater to dress for all 82 games. Here’s hoping Joe Sakic passes the torch to Matt Duchene, rather than the snowblower.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

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