For the first time in a while, Avalanche fans can be happy about a move made by the team's front office. There is an excitement around this team now that hasn't been here since the Avs star-crossed acquisition of both Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya before the 2003-2004 season in an attempt to make a determined run for the cup. But we all know how that ended up. Train wreck. Then there were the trades of Chris Drury, and Alex Tanguay, and the low-balling of Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg after the lockout, all four immensely popular players. Then it appears there wasn't much of an effort to re-sign Rob Blake. Add in the trade for Jose Theodore, the highest paid backup goalie in league history, and the signings of Patrice Brisebois and Pierre Turgeon, a combined 36 years past their primes, and you can see where fans were getting a little antsy.
But here we are now. The Avalanche finished last season on a tremendous run, and finally discovered after 60 games what kind of team they were. An increased commitment in team defense and a new found confidence on offense fueled the run which almost landed a playoff spot. The acquisitions of Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan enforce what was shown at the end of last year, that this team wants to play with more grit and attention to detail. Hannan represents a true first line defenseman which this team has been lacking. Now the question comes who will play with him? I personally like the idea of pairing him with Brett Clark or J-M Liles.
Ryan Smyth brings the work ethic and leadership that will benefit not only the team as a whole, but the younger guys especially. Smyth is built the same way as Wojtek Wolski, and can hopefully teach Wolski how to play to his size and potential to get the most out of his strengths. I see Smyth playing alongside Joe Sakic and Andrew Brunette on the first line. Brunette and Sakic played extremely well last year with revolving linemates, Brunette even set career marks in goals (27), assists (56), and points (83).
Although, some holes have been filled after day one, there are still some remaining. Will the Avalanche bring someone in to play with Stastny and Hejduk, who showed great chemistry together the second half of last year, and will they bring in help on the PK? There is money to be spent, it's just a matter of doing it wisely (see Theodore, Jose)