With yet another blow to the hockey team, losing Paul Stastny in the dying minutes of the game against Phoenix, the Avalanche have lost their top two centers on the team. The team has very little to hope for between the pipes, with Budaj showing his characteristic inconsistency and Raycroft trying to trick us into thinking he can hold down the number 1 job. With the team <s>stumbling</s> free falling out of the gates, there is little hope left this team can realistically make a strong run to a playoff seed, let alone make a run at Lord Stanley's Cup.
The Avalanche have been a lost team since the lockout prevented them from their free-spending heydays, and the team has not had many significant drafts since their early Nordique days. This years draft presents the perfect opportunity to reload for next year, primarily because if this club does not make the playoffs, it will come as a shock to no one. With the injuries this club has suffered, it creates the perfect situation in which they do not have to mention the word rebuilding, but do it anyways.
Using some of their younger players; moving Wolski to center (prepares him for when Sakic eventually retires), as well as using Hensick on the second line will help these players hopefully develop sooner and help gain an identity next season. Chris Stewart is another intriguing young player, who should benefit from Stastny's injury as well. Some minutes on the second line alongside Hensick may be what this team needs to jumpstart the offense. Since the departure of Brunette, the team has lacked a grinder/scorer on its top line (no offense to Smyth), but Stewarts physical play may help provide some time and space for our better scorers.
If the Avs proceed with this youth movement, they can unload Arnason and possibly even Brett Clark (although it wouldnt be so bad to keep him), freeing up some cap space, and retaining a top 10 draft position, which may be what this franchise needs most. With the Draft Lottery, if perhaps the pick ends up a top 5, I think the season may be called a success.
This team needs to begin thinking of life without Sakic, and quickly. They have already proven to be incapable of dealing with his absence and the team has possibly one more season of Super Joe. After he's retired and in the Hall of Fame, we need players ready to fill the void. No longer able to go out and buy the players they need, the Avalanche need to think smart; developing their young talent as well as drafting players that can make an impact in the near future.