Archive for the ‘Roster Talk’ Category

Finally, I have a reason to post a Peter Budaj picture. What reason? Semyon Varlamov has tied Budaj’s franchise record for consecutive starts without a regulation loss.
After a couple of days off, Colorado capped off the quick two game road trip with an OT win over the defending cup champion Blackhawks. The Avs jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals from Tyson Barrie, and Ryan $’Reilly. The goals came within 62 seconds of each other, and really stunned the Blackhawks and the United Center crowd. From there, Chicago slowly took over the game. Johnny Oduya scored in the second and Andrew Shaw in the third to knot things up and send the game to overtime. Andre Benoit drew a penalty from Jonathan Toews at the 3:34 mark of OT, giving Colorado 1 minute and 26 seconds of 4 on 3 powerplay time. They needed only 35. Barrie slapped home his second of the game to give Colorado the win.

Next, Patrick Roy and co. were set to dual with their counterpart in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals- the New Jersey Devils. Martin Brodeur got the night off, with Cory Schneider getting the start for the Devils. $’Reilly continued show his skill, netting the only Avalanche goal, on a very solid play from Patrick Bordeleau behind the net. A lot of fourth liners don’t have the presence of mind, or skill to get that puck to O’Reilly, oops sorry I mean, $’Reilly in front. Reid Boucher added the lone Devils goal in the third. Ultimately it was the birthday boy Matt Duchene who scored the shootout winner, giving Colorado another 2 points.
A square dance in Nashville produced highs and lows for fans of both teams. At one point in the third, Matt Duchene scored a goal, ending his 13 game goalless drought, making the score 5-1 Avs. Peter McNab declared the game over, and is 100% to blame for the 3 Nashville goals in the last 12 minutes of the game, almost costing Colorado the victory. Bottom line, 2 more points.
Cliche Crop
The more I watch the Avs play, the more I start to think that this team can contend, and contend this year. With uncertainly surrounding Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly’s future with the team, this may be the year to go for it.
I know it sounds crazy with like likes of Chicago, and St. Louis standing in our way within the division, but I believe it can be done. Yes, right now the team is leaning heavily on goaltender and Vezina trophy candidate Semyon Varlamov, but is that any different than what the LA Kings did a couple of years ago with Jonathan Quick?
Right now, against the 7 other teams in the playoffs, the Avs combined record is 8-4-3. They are 0-2 against St. Louis this year, and 0-1 against Vancouver. They have a winning record against the other five teams. In a season where the western conference is clearly the bestern conference, that’s a solid record. Even if you throw out getting points for OT losses, they’re still 8-7 on the season.

St. Louis scares me. The Avs have looked terrible against the Blues in both matchups this year, and therefore Avs fans should be the biggest Blues fans around, hoping St. Louis can overtake Chicago for the 1 seed in the Central division. I’d rather see the defending champion Blackhawks in the first round than a hungry Blues team. Who would that leave St. Louis against right now? Vancouver. A team, that despite their well-documented playoff struggles, matches up well against the Blues, and is 2-0 against St. Louis this year.

Of course, the biggest knock on the Avs right now is defense, and rightfully so. Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda are a clear cut top line pairing in the NHL, and both are having great seasons. Assuming all are healthy, which is a big assumption for some, that leaves Ryan Wilson, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden, Andre Benoit, Cory Sarich, and Nate Guenin to fill the bottom 4 spots. Of those, I’ll take Wilson, Barrie, Holden, and Sarich right now. That leaves Nate Guenin and Andre Benoit as the odd men out, and potential trade bait.

#2 Nick Holden

#2 Nick Holden

All year long, Avs fans have been clamoring for another top 4 defenseman, while one may be developing right under their noses. Nick Holden, while having played in less than half of Avalanche games this season, has taken advantage of his opportunity to get more consistent ice time. Holden leads the defense in points per game, and while he is playing more of a sheltered role than Johnson or Hejda, he has shown to be effective killing penalties, and has been one of Colorado’s best defensemen in 2014.

Understandingly, fans might not want to rely on the 26 year old rookie to play a pivotal role come playoff time. That’s where a trade could come into play. If Colorado is comfortably in a playoff spot come early March, they may look to make a deal to bolster the blue line. Taking a look at some teams who might be willing to deal a top 4 guy come March; I’ve identified the Islanders, Panthers, Sabres, and Jets as the ideal teams for Colorado to deal with.
Starting with the Islanders, they’re not scared to make bold moves (see: Vanek, Tomas) and no longer have a first round pick because of it. They’re also in desperate need of goaltending. They have a couple of guys who could interest Colorado: Travis Hamonic, and Andrew MacDonald. In this hypothetical the Avs are in win now mode, and the guy who helps the Avs more, in my opinion, is MacDonald. The 27 year old is having a fine season on the island, accounting for 22 points in 50 games, averaging almost 26 minutes in ice time and is leading the league in blocked shots, but is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

Andrew MacDonald, #47

Andrew MacDonald, #47

So what would it take? If Tomas Vanek is worth a 1st and 2nd to the Islanders, I propose a sending Sami Aittokallio and a 2nd to New York for MacDonald. If Colorado is pretty securely in a playoff spot, I’d be fine with that pick becoming a 1st, but I think NYI would accept the previous deal. The deal helps NYI recoup a draft pick lost to Buffalo, and gives them a very solid goalie prospect in Aittokallio to compete for the number 1 spot when Evgeni Nabokov decides to hang them up.
That leaves Colorado with these three potential defensive pairings:
All three lines look solid defensively, while having a lot of offensive upside. I’d be comfortable rolling that come playoff time.
Offensively, Colorado is 6th in the NHL with 2.90 goals per game. If the Avs can get a little blue line help without giving up any offensive players, they could be very dangerous. Time for a little math; if you take the goals for per game, minus the goals against per game of the last 6 Stanley Cup champions, you get these numbers: 2013 CHI: 1.08, 2012 LA: .22, 2011 BOS: .68, 2010 CHI: .72, 2009 PIT: .59, 2008 DET: .89. Taking the average of those six numbers, you get .6966666 and so on. What’s is the 2013-14 Avalanche team at right now? .52. I know health is a big assumption to make, but I think adding a healthy Alex Tanguay pushes that number up .1, as does adding a top 4 defender…hypothetically bringing the Avs number to .72.

And let’s not forget who Colorado has between the pipes. Semyon Varlamov is currently sitting T-3 in the NHL in wins, 13th in goals against (for goalies that have 20+ games), and 5th in save percentage for 20+ game goalies. The Russian goaltender’s confidence may be at an all-time high, and that’s with a mediocre defensive core in front of him. And remember his 2009 playoff performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins? You know, keeping the Capitals in that series even though Pittsburgh was the better team. Remember this save?

How about the 2011 Winter Classic against those same Penguins? Yeah, he stole the show by making 32 of 33 saves and was named the game’s first star. Bottom line: Varly’s clutch. Don’t worry about him.

I’m not saying that the Avs should be cup favorites, but I am saying this team could be on the brink of something special. Colorado has consistently found ways to win games against the best competition this year. It hasn’t always been pretty, but there are a lot of pieces already in place for the Avs, enough for me to think that with a Joe Sakic brushstroke or two, this team could look like a beautiful work of art.


Let’s Make a Trade!

Posted: February 4, 2013 in Roster Talk

The Avs are a sixth of the way through the 2013 season, so now seems as logical of a time as ever, to play GM and switch up the Avs roster. The timing also seems right, with Ryan Wilson becoming the next victim of the injury bug for the Avs.

Let’s talk Ryan O’Reilly. Avs fans seem to think that O’Reilly can fix all the Avs problems; the powerplay, the penalty kill, becoming the team doctor to heal Landeskog, and while he’s at it, get around to that world hunger problem..I feel like I’m in a very small minority here, but I feel that O’Reilly has burned the bridge to me as a fan. He’s putting himself over the team. There have been other RFA’s who have accepted bridge contracts, post-lockout, and many Avs players have also taken that route…but not O’Reilly. Now, if I wake up tomorrow to hear that he has signed, I wouldn’t mind seeing him on the ice at all, and would eventually probably get over it, but if I was given the choice I would trade him now. Not to mention the Avs have always had a history of trading “selfish” players. So without further adieu, let’s make a trade!

Avs get: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Coyotes get: Ryan O’Reilly, Stefan Elliott, 2014 Second Round Pick

Why it works for the Avs: I’m huge on Ekman-Larsson, as is pretty much everyone else, but I think this package would be enough to get him away from the desert. OEK has 7 points in 9 games for the Coyotes this year, was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and at 21 years of age, is only going to get better. He is what the Avs have been looking for since Kevin Shattenkirk was traded. He is also strong defensively, and I believe would be a great partner with Erik Johnson. He could become the point man on the powerplay, and help the Avs penalty kill as well. I would love to get this guy.

Why it works for the Coyotes:
O’Reilly (assuming he signs with the Yotes) immediately improves a group of centers that includes Martin Hanzal, Kyle Chipchura, Boyd Gordon, Matthew Lombardi, and Antoine Vermette. O’Reilly had 18 more points last year than anyone in that group. O’Reilly is also just 21 (soon to be 22) and will continue to improve as well. O’Reilly also fits into the defensive scheme that Phoenix employs. The Coyotes also get Elliott who could turn into a quality puck moving, offensive defensemen like OEL. They also have a nice defensive prospect in David Rundblad that Elliott could work well with for years down the road. And the second rounder figures to be a middle of the round pick, where the Coyotes could still pick up a quality player.

Next up-

Avs get: Michael Ryder, 2013 First Round Pick

Stars get: Ryan O’Reilly

Why it works for the Avs:
Simply put, I don’t know if the Avs have enough goal scorers on the team. All of their high end skill players seem to be pass first players. Michael Ryder is not. Ryder netted 35 goals for the Stars last year, and added 27 helpers. No doubt part of that production was playing with quality linemates (Jamie Benn?) but the drop off to the Avs centers would not be too far either. Ryder is 32, and is off to a slow-ish start this year (4G, 0A, 9GP) but I wouldn’t mind seeing him on a line with Duchene and Parenteau. He also won a cup with Boston, and with the Avs youth, that experience would be valuable. To counter the age, the Avs would also receive a first round pick in this year’s draft, because if Kyle Turris was worth a first rounder in David Rundblad and a second round pick for never scoring more than 25 points in an season, O’Reilly would definitely be worth a 32 year old, and a first rounder. Not to mention, if the Stars don’t make the playoffs in a tough Western Conference, that would give the Avs another chance at landing a high draft pick in this summers draft.

Why it works for the Stars: The Stars are an interesting team for me to judge. They’re not cup contenders, but they don’t really need to rebuild either. Getting O’Reilly would give Dallas one of the best groups of centers in the NHL. The combination of Benn (age 23), O’Reilly (21), and Cody Eakin (21) would be scary to watch grow as a group. O’Reilly would also help the Stars and their middle of the road defensive game. From what I can tell they don’t have a lot of defensive minded forwards, and O’Reilly would be able to fill in at that role. Become the next Brenden Morrow of the team. And with the age of many Stars forwards; Jagr, Whitney, Morrow, and Ryder, it might not be a bad idea to trade for some youth that can help now.

Did not see this one coming. Wow. When the trade came up I couldn’t believe they made the trade. I have always thought that Winnik was the perfect glue guy on the team, not to mention he was a part of a great PK unit. I’m still not sure if trading Galiardi is a terrible idea or not. As a rookie in the playoff series 3 years ago he was great. He got under the Sharks skin and I have to think that is part of the reason the Sharks wanted him, but at the same time this is his 3rd season in the league and is terribly inconsistent and has only 14 points in 55 games this year.

Galiardi is still 21 and I think after this trade he will be very motivated and play well for the Sharks. Winnik will be Mr. Consistent for the Sharks. He is a great penalty killer and can play physical. The Sharks have to like their return with the trade. But what about the Avs?

As a fan when you see names you know (Gali and Winnik) for players they don’t know much about (McGinn & prospects) the first reaction is usually anger. Why would the Avs trade these good players for nobody’s? But after looking at the players and stats- I like what the Avs got back.

McGinn is another 23 year old into the Avs organization. He has 24 points in 61 games, and led the Sharks with 137 hits. He is an RFA at the end of the year, but I would imagine the Avs retain his services. Another thing this move does is opens up a roster spot for Mueller to return. That means that Olver will be staying with the team, which is a good move.

I will admit I don’t know much about McGinn but he seems to be another Steve Downie. He will add a lot of physical presence and can score as well. I think this sets up the Avs to have great balance on their top 2 lines.
That is 3 very solid lines. The top two now have a great combination of skill, scoring ability, and physicality. Downie and McGinn can go to the front of the net, they will go to the dirty areas, and that will free up the ice for O’Reilly, Landeskog, Duchene and Mueller to score. I think it is a great move for the Avs to give the top lines that combination.

But the Avs will also get more. Mike Connolly is a 22 year old who has been with the Sharks AHL team this season. It is his first season as a professional and was second on the team with 30 points in 40 games. He is not a big guy (5’9″, 180lbs) but it appears he has a decent amount of scoring ability. Certainly I could see him being a 3rd or 4th liner on the team in the future.

The other prospect is Michael Sgarbossa. He is a 19 year old playing for the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey league. He has 84 points (41g/43a) in 57 games. He does not have great size either (5’11”, 175) but as a 19 year old he will continue to grow and could be a very nice player for the Avs down the road. He is second in the OHL in scoring. For a little comparison, here are some other players who finished in the top 5 in scoring in the OHL between 06-09 which would give them some time to make the NHL: Cody Hogdson, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Sam Gagner, and Wojtek Wolski. This does not include players like Bobby Ryan, Taylor Hall, and Logan Couture who did not finish in the top 5. So while I don’t know much about Sgarbossa, it looks like he could have a bright future.

Overall, I think the combination of getting size with McGinn who can help now, along with potential of Sgarbossa and Connolly makes this a good deal for the Avs. Looking at it objectively, Galiardi is probably a career bottom 6 guy: he is still just 23 but so is McGinn and nothing has shown me that he is going to develop into a top 6 guy. Winnik is also a bottom 6 guy who is a good penalty killer and teammate. He is Jay McClement jr: not as good of scorer, penalty killer, or defensive player as McClement but was definitely worth the 4th round pick the Avs gave up for him. He will be missed more than Galiardi for me.

What does everyone else think? Good trade? Bad trade? I would have liked to see Galiardi in another playoff series before giving up on him, but I think was a good trade overall. But what everyone else think?

This is what I consider a typical Greg Sherman move. And by that, I mean it is a bit of a head-scratcher. I’m not saying it’s a bad trade, but acquiring Downie was completely out of the blue.

The Avs are getting a 24 year old RFA at the end of the year, with a mean streak, who will go to the dirty areas. Yes, the Avs need someone like that, and Downie has 28 points this year which would be 5th on the Avs. I’m just not sure what to make of the trade. It fills a need for the Avs, but I think they could have done better.

The worst possible thing a fan can do in this situation is go to a message board or forum and read what people are saying. Remember when Wojtek Wolski was traded? There was not an Avs fan who liked the trade at the time, but 2 years removed and everyone loves it.

Because I am also a bit of a fan of Tampa Bay Lightning, I have probably watched Downie play more than most Avs fans. Having said that, his game has been rather forgettable. Immediately what comes to mind for me is his history of dirty plays. I have never really liked him because of that, and I think that is why I don’t like the picture of him being on the Avs. To better understand what kind of player he is, I searched “Steve Downie” on Youtube. The first 16 videos were either fights or cheap shots. To give you a little idea of his reputation as a dirty player, take a look at these videos. Just a warning, the Crosby video made me squirm a litte.

Tampa Bay quickly turned around and shipping KQ to Detroit for a 2012 first round pick, and a minor leaguer. So the inevitable question is: What would you rather have, Steve Downie, or Detroit’s 1st round pick and prospect. The easy answer is Detroit’s pick and prospect, but I’m not so sure.

Detroit will likely compete for the cup, and that pick is almost guaranteed to be in the 25-30 range. Looking back at the 05, 06, and 07 drafts, which would give the players 4,5, and 6 years to get to the NHL, the best player drafted between 25-30 is probably either Patrik Burglund, or David Perron. Is Steve Downie (who was drafted 29th in 05) that much worse than Burglund or Perron? Probably not, and the Avs are getting a guy who can help them now.

What I don’t like about the trade, is I think the Avs could have gotten more for Quincey. I was hoping for any sort of 1st round draft pick between 10-19. I think it could have happened from a team like Chicago, San Jose, or maybe even Florida. But obviously being 5+ hours removed from the trade is way too quickly to judge a winner or losing.

Even though my gut tells me that this is a bad trade, I have to trust Greg Sherman here. He has brought in Mueller,Porter, EJ, McClement, and Varlamov in trades that I didn’t like at the time, but he has proved me wrong every time. And while most of you will disagree with at least the Varlamov trade right now, I think he will be worth a 1st round pick in the teens.

One thing is certain, tomorrow’s game just got a lot more interesting. I would also be surprised if the Avs done trading, so stay tuned.

This is one of the most exciting times of the year for hockey fans. I love it, not because the Avs made a lot of trades, but it is exciting to see where players end up, what times are going to make a run for the cup, what teams are going to make a run for the #1 pick in the draft, and so find out how franchises view certain players. So here I am putting in my two cents as to what the Avs should do at the deadline that can help the team make a playoff push, without mortgaging their future.

Avs get: Derek Roy and Drew Stafford

Sabres get: Paul Stastny, 2013 Third Round Draft Pick.

Why the deal makes sense: I advocated for trading for Derek Roy back in October, and I’m going to do it again. To start, the best thing for Paul Stastny would be a change of scenery. He has become a bit of an awkward fit in Colorado. He is paid like a superstar, but has not produced like one. If he played with a scoring winger, I think he would really excel. That is why Buffalo is such a good fit, they have Tomas Vanek. The Avs are center heavy as well- Duchene, O’Reilly, McClement, and maybe Hishon in a year or two. I don’t want to see Duchene, O’Reilly, or McClement leave this summer, so why not trade Stastny?

Trades for people with the last name "Roy" have worked for the Avs before.

Look what the Avs would get in return. Derek Roy is having a down year with 26 points in 50 games, but every Sabre seems so be having a down year. Roy had 35 points in 35 games last year before he suffered a season ending knee injury. He is 28 and could be a big factor with the Avs in a few years when they are ready to compete in the playoffs. The Avs would get Drew Stafford as well. He is the power forward that the Avs have been missing since Chris Stewart left. Also having a bad year, with 24 points in 50 games after having 52 points in 62 games last year. Stafford is also only 26 and could be a core piece of the team for years. I think both teams are looking to shake things up, especially the Sabres, and this trades helps both teams fill a need.

After Stastny is gone, and the Avs power forward need has been filled, the next person to go is David Jones.

Avs get: Michael Frolik

Blackhawks get: David Jones

Why it makes sense: David Jones has been a huge disappointment this year for Avs fans. After 27 goals last year many fans thought he would take it to the next level with better teammates around him. He has done the opposite. With better players he is not getting as much ice time and rarely contributes during games. He is going to be a UFA this summer, and I don’t see the Avs resigning him, so they should get something for him. It is no surprise that the Blackhawks are Stanley Cup or bust this year, and surprisingly, Jones would offer better depth than Frolik. Jones has 17 points compared to Frolik’s 13. Jones has also played in less games.

I’ve always thought Michael Frolik was going to be a solid player in this league despite having never scored more than 45 points in a season. He is not getting much ice time with the talent heavy Blackhawks (13:30 per game) and I think if he is given more ice time along with better players from moving up one line that he could become a 60+ point producer. He is only 23 and is signed for the 2 more seasons after this one, at 2.333 million per year. That is slightly less than Jones is making this year, and could really turn into a nice player.

The last trade the Avs need to make before the deadline is a defenseman

Avs get: James van Riemsdyk

Flyers get: Kyle Quincey, 2012/2013 Second Round Pick (Whichever one Washington does not take from the Varly trade)

Why it makes sense: The Flyers are another team that is Stanley Cup or bust this year. After losing Chris Pronger for the year, and Ryan Suter unlikely to be traded, the Flyers should turn to Quincey to strengthen their blue line. He can be a very good defenseman who puts up solid offensive numbers, much like Pronger did. Quincey is an RFA at the end of the year, so the Flyers can keep him if they want him after this year. I don’t think too many fans would argue that he has been one of the Avs best defenders this season, and that is what the Flyers need.

With JVR, the Avs would have 4 players on their team drafted in the top 3.

Van Riemsdyk is a former 2nd overall pick in the draft, and has a ton of potential. He is locked up long term at 4.25 million per year, which is probably not much more than Quincey would ask for this summer. He would be another scoring winger for the Avs which would really go well with the Avs pass first centers. He is only 22 and would be a key part of Avs team’s for the next decade. Despite never having scored more than 21 goals in a season (he is in his third) he has a ton of room to grow and would fit in perfectly with the Avs youth.

If the Avs were to make these 3 trades, I would imagine the lines would look something like this:

Landeskog-O’Reilly-van Reimsdyk



I drool over seeing that team play every night. I can’t be the only one who would love to see that. I honestly think that all 3 trades are very realistic. I tried to be as fair as possible, and I think opposing teams would have a hard time saying no to any of those trades. The only one where more might have to be thrown in is the Stastny-Roy trade. I definitely think if the Avs threw in Kobasew, or Van Der Gulik, the Sabres would be hard pressed to say no.

So what does everyone think? Possible? Probable? Have any different potential trade ideas that the Avs could make? Let me know, this is one of my favorite times of the year!

With the season now 50% complete, I thought it would be a good time to look back on the past 41 games, and give every player a grade based on their play in the first half of the season. So here we go:


Matt Duchene: C-

Why: In his third full year of the NHL, I expected Duchene to break out as a star. Really make the jump from good to great player, and he has not. He has not been horrible, but I don’t think he has lived up to the expectations most people had for him this year. Even before getting hurt, he only had 24 points and was on pace for well less than his 67 last year. However, after saying all of that, he still remains the Avs biggest offensive threat.

TJ Galiardi: C-

Why: Galiardi had a rough start to the year, but lately has been turning things around. He has really started to work hard on the ice, and has generated a lot of good scoring chances. However, at the beginning of the year, and during training camp, I heard a lot about how he gained weight and worked very hard in the offseason, and I was expecting a better year from him. Having only 10 points through the first 41 games played is disappointing for someone who I was hearing so much about at the beginning of the year.

Milan Hejduk: B+

Why: I certainly did not expect Hejduk to be the teams second leading scorer halfway through the season, but he has been a pleasant surprise. He continues to give the Avs that steady play, and you know what you are going to get from him game in and game out. He seems to be doing a decent job as the team’s captain. He is on pace for his 11th season with more than 20 goals.

David Jones: D

Why: After a 27 goal season last year, I thought Jones had emerged as a 30 or 35 goal threat when he had some talent around him. Yet halfway through the year, he has only 7 goals and 14 points. He was hurt for a while, but it seems like he has not been a factor out on the ice since October. I think all Avs fans have been disappointed with his play this season.

Chuck Kobasew: D+

Why: When the Avs signed him, I believe they thought they were getting a guy who would score 15-20 goals. I think the fans did too. While Kobasew also missed time due to injury, and has played very well since coming back, he on pace for not 15-20 goals, but points. Especially early in the season, most fans wondered why he was even in the lineup. Bottom line is he has not met expectations during the first half of the year.

Gabriel Landeskog: A-

Why: To start, making any NHL team as an 18 year old is impressive, but to put up 20 points in the first half of the season exceeded just about everyone’s expectations for the #2 draft pick. It’s not just about the points he puts up, but he does everything well. He is leading the team in hits and shots, and is trusted on the ice during any situation. The only reason the grade is not higher is he takes too many goaltending interference penalties when the Avs are on powerplays.

Brad Malone: Incomplete/D

Why: He has only played in 9 games for the Avs, and is averaging only 10 minutes of ice time, and has only 2 assists. When he has played, he has pretty much been a non factor for the Avs.

Jay McClement: B+

Why: McClement has been one of the most consistent Avs this season. He has played very well this year. He always seems to make the right play and nothing bad ever seems to happen when he has the puck. I think he has impressed a lot of Avs fans with his play this year. He is good both offensively and defensively and while he only has 9 points this year, he has scored clutch goals. He is a very good penalty killer, and has turned me into a fan with his play this season.

Cody McLeod: C

Why: I think Cody McLeod is giving exactly what Avs fans expected from him this year. He is there to keep the skilled, young players safe, and has been doing just that. He has chipped in 2 goals and assists, but his job is not to score, and he knows that, the organization knows that, and the fans know that.

Peter Mueller: Incomplete

Why: He has only played 3 games this season. He is still sitting out with concussion like symptoms. He is skating with the team during practices right now and the Avs and their fans hope to see him on the ice, but more importantly healthy, in the future.

Ryan O’Reilly: A+

Why: Ryan O’Reilly has been the best surprise for Avs fans this year. He leads the team in scoring and probably will be the Avs representative at the All Star Game. He has made the jump from solid defensive forward to great 2 way player. He leads the NHL in takeaways, and is another player who is trusted on the ice at any time. He has come up with clutch plays so far this season and has been the Avs best player through the first 41 games. What is more impressive is I don’t think anyone thought he would be.

Kevin Porter: B

Why: He is another player who fans didn’t expect much out of this year. In fact during training camp there were many people who thought he should not even make the roster. He is a very smart player who has also seen time on the ice during every situation. He works hard on the 4th line, and usually makes 1 or 2 great plays that leads to a good chance for the Avs per game. He has worked his way from a healthy scratch at the beginning of the year to a regular roster player at the midway point. That alone should show his work ethic and skill are very high.

Paul Stastny: D

Why: He only has 21 points halfway through the season and even though he is fourth on the team in scoring, it seems like he never contributes when the Avs really need him. The highest paid player on the team should be on pace for more than 42 points. I can’t explain it, other than I don’t think he is that good. Including the first half of this year, Stastny only has 64 goals in the last 4 years. Stastny never seems to be around when something good happens for the Avs, and I think fans are beginning to become disgruntled with his play this year.

David Van Der Gulik: Incomplete/B

Why: He only has played 9 games, so it’s pretty tough/ unfair to give him a grade after only 9 games, but he certainly seems to be a solid player. He was leading the Lake Erie Monsters in scoring when he was called up, and always seems to make smart decisions and good plays.

Daniel Winnik: B

Why: Winnik is under appreciated. He is another very smart player who is very good in his role on the team. He is a solid 3rd liner and is one of the few Avs who will go to the dirty areas to make a play. He is essentially a grinder, but he has the skill to put the puck in the net. This season he has 13 points, and I think most people were expecting a lot less than 26 points (his current pace) this year. He has been a happy surprise for a lot of fans I think.

Brandon Yip: Incomplete/F

Why: Yip has only played 9 games this year, but he has been awful when he has played. He takes terrible penalties and makes bad decisions. He often has terrible turnovers, and has 0 points this year. I think I speak for most, if not all Avs fans when I say, “Keep Brandon Yip off of the ice.”


Stefan Elliott: C-

Why: In my opinion Stefan Elliott is lucky to get a C-. The only reason it is that high is because he does have 9 points through his 19 games. That is pretty good for a rookie. But Elliott is one of the worst defenders I have seen in a long time. To his credit he has improved during his time with the club, but it seems like once a game he has a terrible turnover and makes a terrible play. He is a C- because after hearing so much about him during training camp I thought he would be a stud on both ends of the ice, and not just one.

Jan Hejda: D+

Why: I didn’t know much about Hejda when the Avs signed him, but when I saw they gave a 33 year old a 4 year $13 million contract, I figured he would be a very good defender. He is average. I don’t if it was chemistry but early in the year he was awful. The Johnson-Hejda paring was a disaster. To his credit he does have 12 points and has scored some clutch goals, but he was signed to be a defensive defenseman and I do not believe he has lived up to defensive expectations so far.

Matt Hunwick: Incomplete/B

Why: No that is not a typo. Hunwick has only played in 10 games, but he deserves a spot in the starting lineup. Never thought I would type that after last year, but it’s true. He might not deserve one over any of the other defenders, but I think trading one for some offense and putting Hunwick in the lineup would be a good thing. He has done everything the coaches have asked, even playing wing a few times this year. He has really smartened up defensively, and I have not seen a terrible play from him this year, which is really saying something given that was all we saw from him, most of last year.

Erik Johnson: C-

Why: Because C- sounds a lot better than D+. Coming into the season there were rumblings that he might be the captain, and he had worked incredibly hard in the offseason. October was a rough month for him, but after that he has not been awful. I’m probably a bigger Erik Johnson believer than Greg Sherman, but he makes it hard sometimes. It seems like he is out there for most of the Avs goals against, just standing in front of the goal. It’s not that he plays bad defense, but he just always seems to pick the wrong man to defend when the puck in loose in front of the net. And every 2-1 he goes down and slides, and it seems like every time they score. I just feel like his game is too predictable right now. Having said all of that- he is nowhere near as bad as everyone says. He still has 14 points in 36 games, and will get better. Trust me Avs fans, give it some time and cut him some slack.

Shane O’Brien: B+

Why: The Avs signed Shane O’Brien late in the free agency time period, but he has been a great addition for the Avs. He is a very smart player, and I rarely see him make a bad play or turnover in the Avs zone. I also love how he plays and sticks up for his teammates. He does not let any opponent off the hook for anything. He also has a solid 13 points so far, and he is on pace for a career year. I don’t think most Avs fans expected much out of him, and has been a very pleasant surprise this year.

Ryan O’Byrne: B-

Why: O’Byrne has been almost exactly what I expected him to be- just a solid defender. He does not contribute too much offensively with 6 points in the first 41 games, but he gets the job done on D. He is not overly physical, but he uses his size well. He has played every game for the Avs this year and is a +1. That really says something when you consider some of the stretches the Avs have had. He is another player who shows up, and effectively does what he is suppose to.

Kyle Quincy: A-

Why: That Ryan Smyth trade keeps getting better and better for the Avs with every game he plays. He is the leading scoring defenseman for the Avs, and is 6th overall on the team despite playing only 35 games. I don’t think many people saw this kind of season coming from him. But he is also good defensively. He is a physical presence for the Avs down low and rarely make a stupid play or has a bad turnover. He is a free agent at the end of the season and is earning himself a nice pay raise with his play.

Ryan Wilson: A

Why: Speaking of great trades, how about that Jordan Leopold trade. Got Ryan Wilson and Stefan Elliott for him. He has probably been the Avs best defenseman this year when he has played. He is currently out with a concussion but is skating with the team. He has 14 points in 28 games which is very good, but he also plays great defense. He is a +5 which shows that he is a smart and he is another player who I rarely see a bad play out of. He is also the Avs most physical defenseman, and probably has the Avs 5 hardest hits this year. I think I speak for all Avs fans when I say we can’t wait to see him back out on the ice.


Jean-Sebastien Giguere: A

Why: I was skeptical of Giguere’s ability when the Avs signed him. His years in Toronto were filled with disappointment and injury. I thought he was being signed strictly as a mentor for Varlamov. He has played a much bigger role than I thought, and has carried the Avs at times, and has kept the Avs afloat in the standings at other times. He arguably could be the most important player on the roster this year, when I don’t think anyone saw that coming this summer. He currently is fifth in the league in goals against with 1.96 (only .02 worse than Tim Thomas to give you a little perspective) and is ninth in save percentage with .927. If teams realized he was going to be this good, I think he would have been a lot tougher to get this summer. He also has been a leader and good teammate for Varlamov. I think he is influencing him a lot more than the public knows. Overall, I think every Avs fan is happy to have him.

Semyon Varlamov: B

Why: You might think it’s wrong to give him a B, considering his GAA of 2.96 and his save percentage of .900, but he has been much better than those numbers. He had a rough stretch from Oct. 28 to Nov. 28 where he went 2-8, but aside from that he has been very good, 11-5 to be exact. He has single handedly gotten the Avs 6 points from shootouts, where he is amazing. Of those 16 starts outside of his bad stretch, he has allowed 2 goals or less 10 times. That is giving the Avs a much better chance of winning than they have had in recent years. He is capable of stealing games as we have seen in Boston, and LA this year. He makes saves that most goalies can’t make, and while he lets in some easy ones now and then, he usually makes up for it later in the game. Aside from that month, there is not a negative thing I can say about him. He will be worth the first and second we gave up to get him, and 10 years down the road, Washington will wish they could do it all over again…assuming the Avs keep their pick outside the top 10.

Well, after a couple of hours and over 2600 words, the first half grades are in. Here is to looking forward to the next 41 games, and the Avs making a push for a playoff spot. Go Avs!

Greg Sherman became the general manager of the Avs in the summer of 2009. Since then, he has been one of the most gutsy GM’s in the league. Many people do not like Sherman because he takes so many chances, so I thought we should go back and look at the trades he has made, to see if his reputation among Avs fans as a bad GM is true.

His first trade was Kyle Quincy, Tom Preissing and a 5th round pick for Ryan Smyth

At the time of the trade: I don’t think Avs fans were too happy. Smyth was a veteran who had a couple decent years in Colorado, and I think Avs fans were perplexed as to why he was traded. One nice thing was getting rid of his very high cap hit.

Now: You have like it. Quincy is the Avs leading defensive scorer while Smyth was not great in LA. He traded an old veteran for a quality young defenseman, and while originally the trade might have been a loss, the further away it gets, the better it has been for the Avs.

Next was Wolski for Mueller and Porter.

At the time: People were furious. Wolski was a bit of a fan favorite, and still young, for an injury prove player, and a nobody

Now: This is probably the toughest one to call. It surely is not a win for the Coyotes, and Wolski didn’t even last a year in Phoenix. I want to say it was a great trade for the Avs because Wolski is now a nobody in the NHL while Mueller still has a chance. And lets not forget about Porter. Lately for the Avs he has been playing very well, and did have 25 points last year. But I think Mueller has played less than 20 regular season games in an Avs uniform, which is the only reason this trade is not a huge win, but a small one.

On the same day Sherman traded Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll and 6th round pick for Stephane Yelle and Harrison Reed.

At the time: Avs fans were happy to get Yelle back, without losing much of anything

Now: This was the classic rental player. Yelle helped the Avs get into the playoffs in 09, and with no one else of significance in the trade, you have to think this was also a win.

The next semi big trade was a 4th round pick for Daniel Winnik.

At the time: Who?

Now: I don’t know if there is an Avs fan out there who would say this was a bad trade. A solid 3rd liner, maybe a 2nd liner, for a 4th rounder that is two years away. Yep, worth it.

Next was Michael Bournival for Ryan O’Byrne

At the time: The Avs were desperate for defense and O’Byrne was the odd man out in Montreal. I think fans were happy to get some much needed defense.

Now: He has played solid during his time with the Avs, and I believe he is loved in the locker room. I think this has been a good trade for the Avs so far, but until Bournival develops and even gets into the NHL, it is too early to tell how much exactly the Avs gave up.

More defense followed, with Colby Cohen being traded for Matt Hunwick

At the time: I don’t think they hated the trade, but I think a lot of fans didn’t want to see Cohen go.

Now: Literally everyone hates Matt Hunwick. While at times he was awful last year, he really improved towards the end of the year, and has been decent this year. The trade was a bit of a panic move, and I think if Sherman could go back and do it over again, he would not make the trade. Probably a loss for the Avs, but with prospects involved, it’s too early to tell.

Next was Hannan for Fleischmann

At the time: I think most fans thought this was a good trade. Hannan was leaving after the year, and Fleischmann was a solid player in Washington.

Now: It was a great trade for the Avs when he was healthy, and Fleischmann and Duchene were amazing together, but Fleischmann got hurt and the Avs didn’t resign him, much to the disappointment of the fans this summer. On a scale of 1 to 10, if 5 was a push for a trade, I think this trade was a 6.

Next was Craig Anderson for Brian Elliott

At the time: I think Avs fans were happy to see Andy go, but wanted a bigger return

Now: It’s looking decent for the Avs. The Senators are stuck with Anderson for the next 4 years, while Elliott helped the Avs get Landeskog. I also like to think that Sherman saw the potential of Elliott, of the success he is having in St. Louis, but I still think this trade is a push at best for the Avs, and probably was a loss because they probably could have at least got a half decent prospect for Anderson.

A day later was the big one: Stewart, Shattenkirk and a 2nd for Johnson, McClement, and a 1st.

At the time: I think most Avs fans seriously considered kidnapping Greg Sherman

Now: This is also a tough one. Stewart has been terrible in STL this year, but Shattenkirk has been pretty good. As far as the Avs go: Erik Johnson finished the season well, but this year, even though he has been disappointing to many fans, has had a decent year, and seems to be turning things around of late. Jay McClement has been very good for the Avs. He can do it all, score, pass, win faceoffs, kill penalties, overall, he is a player that every team needs. It is way to early to call a winner on this trade, and it has been a VERY even trade so far, but if I had to give an edge to a team right now, I would say the Avs are the winners, because Johnson’s potential is better than Stewart or Shattenkirk and the Avs got an 11th overall pick. I think most Avs fans would disagree with me though.

Next was Liles for a 2nd Rounder

At the time: Nooooooooooo!

Now: Noooooooooo! The Avs wanted a 2nd for Liles, and finally got it from Toronto. They thouhgt Liles was easily replaceable with all the puck moving defensive prospects they had, but I think these first weeks of Stefan Elliott’s career have proven that he is no JML. I think this is a loss for the Avs right now, but give it 5 years, and we’ll see. I mean, Ryan O’Reilly was a second rounder too.

The last big one was Semyon Varlamov for a 1st and 2nd

At the time: $%^@*

Now: Bad trade for the Avs. I think most people would say it was a bad trade, but if the Avs can get to the playoffs, I think it will end up being a great trade. Any pick outside the top 10 would be worth it. Giving up a first rounder, for another first rounder, who can help the team now, is not a bad trade. Just seeing where the pick will end up is huge. Varlamov has not had the defense that Giguere has had this year, I don’t think that’s on purpose, but the team just seems to have more letdowns when he is in there. Also, look at Washington’s goaltending situation without him there. It has been much, much worse with Vokoun-Neuvirth than it was with Varlamov-Neuvirth. Obviously that is not 100% due to Varlamov, but I think he is really being undervalued by a lot of people, both in Washington and Colorado. Right now, it is very early to call, but I would have to say a loss for the Avs. It’s close, but in a rebuilding process, trading you 1st rounder is never a good idea, especially when you have Calvin Pickard in the system. Having said that, I’m still glad that Varlamov is on the Avs.

Having looked at all of Greg Sherman’s big trades as GM, I personally think it is safe to say that he is the smartest man in the room, and probably should be trusted with trades, a whole lot more than he is. Having said that, I do think that he might not be the best GM when it comes to signing free agents or hiring personnel…but I do think that he is a better GM than most people realize, and should get more credit than he does.