Avs Mailbag: Who will be the next breakout star for Colorado? – The Denver Post

Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers responds to questions in the Avs Mailbag every other week during the regular season. 

Pose an Avalanche- or NHL-related question for the Avs Mailbag.

Will we see an improvement in special teams this season? Why was the power play middle of the road last season, (ranked 15th if I remember correctly), especially during the (bubble) playoffs? Statistically, they played better 5-on-5 than when they had a man advantage!


— Rob, Morrison

Hey Rob, yes, the power play should have been better in the regular season (19.1%, 19th in the league) and playoffs (22.1%, eight among 24 teams). I think we all remember the last four games in the Dallas series when the Avs went a combined 2-of-20 with the man-advantage. They were a similarly bad 4-of-32 in the entire series and that’s not nearly good enough. But they are talented and they should score more goals on the power play. They also have two new guys in Brandon Saad and Devon Toews, who both will probably play on the second unit.

Roster depth is mission-critical to the Avs’ success. Can you tell me a bit about the roster bubble this year (taxi squad, roster expansion), how the rules will work and how that’s potentially played out for the Avs this season?

Thanks for the Q&A!

— John Mark Krum, Boise

The taxi-squad guys will be able to practice and travel with the team but paid under their AHL contracts if they have one (most of these players have two-way contracts). If they are “called-up” to the big club, the team must file the paperwork before a deadline and the player must go through waivers if they are not waiver-exempt. So basically, nothing has changed — except these possible call-ups are already with the big club and not playing in the AHL. Hope that helps.

Hi Mike, just wanted to comment on the Avs new uniforms. They are sweet!

Any chance on them becoming a permanent part of their rotation? Also, what is with all the helmet advertisements I am seeing? I hope this is just a temporary thing while fans aren’t in the stands.

— Tony, Denver

I hope the helmet stickers are temporary too, Tony. They have been introduced this season to help revenue streams, and we can all appreciate that with the league starting off playing before little or no ticket revenue. As for the uniforms, they are more blue than black and I have a feeling they might slowly faze out the black. They’ve gone from black to blue breezers (pants) and gloves, and the helmet might be next.

Mike, Happy New Year! Who do you think is going to be the next breakout star for the Avs?

— Frank, Parker

Happy new year to you, Frank! It’s a race between Bo Byram and forward Alex Newhook. Byram will join the Avs next week, a day or two after the Jan. 13 opener, and Newhook is back in Boston with the Boston College Eagles. We don’t know if Byram will play more than six games this season, with the first year of his contract burned if he plays a seventh game, but he’ll probably play six games before the team decides on that. He and Newhook might be full-time Avs next season. They were the fourth and 16th selections of the 2019 draft, respectively, and both are coming off front-line roles with Canada at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

OK, we are about to drop the puck on a new hockey season and I am pumped. With no fans in the stands will we be able to watch this team on TV with the current Altitude dispute? Any updates on this front? Thanks.

— Christie, LoDo

Christie, we have several stories about the Altitude disputes with Comcast and Dish Network in the can. Stay tuned. But I will say now that I recently texted with the Altitude executive in charge and there are no new developments in the stalemate. Fans with Comcast or Dish will have to find alternative ways to watch.

Look, I’m a fan of Philipp Grubauer, but do you think he and Pavel Francouz can carry us between the pipes? Goaltending seems to be questionable for us. We have loads of firepower, but so will other teams come playoff time. Is there anyone out there we can land in a late-season trade?

— Ben R., Aurora

That’s the only glaring question about this team — are Grubauer and Francouz good enough? But Joe Sakic and Jared Bednar told me face-to-face that they really believe in these guys, and their lack of size is really the only reason we should doubt them. If they aren’t good enough halfway into the season, of course, they will make a move and try to improve in net.

Mike, I know the offseason was short but myself and other fans have missed watching live hockey, any chance we are able to get back to in-arena games this season?

— Trevor, Colorado Springs

There’s always that chance, and the deeper we get into the season the more those chances will increase — assuming vaccinations do their thing. Right now, you can take a trip to Arizona, Dallas, or the two Florida teams to try to catch a game with limited capacity. Those two late-February Avalanche games at Arizona are enticing, eh? Beautiful area in Glendale, Ariz., right next to the big football stadium.

Hey Mike, I’m sure anytime someone asks you a question pertaining to their fantasy hockey team you roll your eyes and hit delete. I want to be up front and say I’m making a decision in league and have a simple question where some expert advice would really help me out if you have a quick second? Your input is very much appreciated.

I’m just wondering if you see Landeskog as a permanent fixture on the top line (very little shuffling with Burakovsky)? Basically wondering if the addition of Saad gives Bednar more confidence in his forward depth to roll out the big 3 together on a more consistent basis. 

Again, any input is much appreciated and go Wings ?

— Mike Bauman, Detroit (don’t hate me!)

Haha, of course, I don’t hate any Wings fans. It was a great rivalry and a lot of fun to cover. As for Landeskog, he’s currently “unfit” and not practicing but Bednar said he would play left wing on the second line with Nazem Kadri. Burakovsky is with MacKinnon and Rantanen. Landeskog and Burakvosky have flipped often since the beginning of last season and that likely will continue.

Mike, what are the Avs’ plans regarding 2018 third round pick Sampo Ranta? Will he sign following his junior season in MPLS?

— Jack, Hooper

Well, Jack, we don’t know when he’ll sign but I’m sure the Avs like his development for top-ranked Minnesota, where he leads the team in goals with seven in 10 games. He’s a sophomore now and I doubt he’ll come out after this season unless he and the club think he should continue to develop in the AHL. Since the NCAA is playing, the AHL hasn’t started and he’s doing well at Minnesota, he’ll probably stay there at least through his junior year.

Hi Mike, is this finally the year the Avalanche make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals?

— Michael, Denver

There are a ton of people who are predicting that. A ton. This team is really stacked with talented players in their prime and they realize their window to win is now. Perhaps the biggest thing is, all the great ones say you have to lose before you can win. The Avs have lost Game 7 of a conference semifinal series for two consecutive years. I’d say they are ready to win.

Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers responds to questions in the Avs Mailbag every other week during the regular season. 

Pose an Avalanche- or NHL-related question for the Avs Mailbag.

Source: Read Full Article