I still can't seem to post any comments on MyHockeybuzz without the words "mySQL Error in statement" appearing and my comment not showing up. Just to let you know I'm not ignoring anyone's comments.
Liles was mentioned a couple of times in the comments so I'd like to address this point for a bit.
Sure, Liles was great with the Avs during his time in Denver. Now he's doing great in Toronto and is adored by the team and fans alike. It would take so much for the Avalanche to get him back, assuming they have an interest in trading for him at all. For all we know, he might not be on their radar. He still maintains residence in Denver as he just got married there this past summer. I don't know if that would help in bringing him back or not.
However, bringing him back won't be the saving grace for the Avs.
What stands in the way of the Stanley Cup?
First of all, they'll need to get back in the playoffs to begin with before considering a run for the Cup. But how plausible is it for them to win? What will it take for them to get that far?
The Avalanche brought back Sakic and Roy in the form of management and they're effectively the top brass. Their deliberation came to fruition when they decided to forego the top ranked prospect Seth Jones, a defenseman, for a the next best player, center Nathan MacKinnon.
They made it their top priority to enhance goal-scoring and overall offense. If they didn't pick MacKinnon, some other team might benefit from his highly-touted abilities.
The wisdom of these decisions is yet to be tested, and we'll only know for certain when the season is up and running.
Goaltending is always in doubt as the tandem of Varlamov and Giguere has yet to make a productive mark. Both players ended their two seasons with Avs with over 0.900 in save-percentages. But their GAAs were high and the number of losses outweigh the wins. Was it because of shoddy defense, or are these goalies just not good? Was it a bit of both?
The management decided to put its faith in him (for now) and they even brought François Allaire, the prolific goalie coach who coached Roy and Giguere. One of my hopes was for Roy to have a hand in training Varly, but he did one better and brought in the man who influenced him.
The offense is loaded with raw talent with Duchene, O'Reilly, Landeskog and MacKinnon highlighting the line-up. Each player had at least one high-scoring season and they're due for more. MacKinnon should be able to compete with the big boys provided he's confident enough to make the ice his playground.
In the past, there was one glaring problem with the forwards: chemistry.
They're all very good players, yet they weren't able to work together efficiently for the most part. There were many moments of brilliant teamwork, but they weren't nearly enough to get the Avsmobile going. The power play was terrible and so were the passes. Oppositions defensive lines ate them up and they weren't able to counter back with enough grit or swiftness. Not to mention that team-based plays and position was very defective.
The coaches will need to find the combos that work best and the ones with the most consistency. For the longest time, Lando and Radar looked pretty good together in 2011-12, but that somewhat dwindled, what with O'Reilly's contract dispute and Landeskog's injuries. Alex Tanguay was brought in to inject some more of the 2001 Stanley Cup membership into the current Avalanche plans. Will he relive his days of glory with the Avs after the years of mediocrity?
How can the Avs get all these guys to work together? Will they need to bring in anyone else to fill some of the gaping, paralyzing holes?
Because they won't spend too much money, they'll probably see how the initial line-ups and tactics work before making any trades or signing as they want to save money by building from within the system.
The age-old question of their defense has already been mentioned in a previous blog. It'll be interesting if the Avs can find a star defenseman if someone were to shine in training camp. But even that won't be enough as chemistry is also needed here.
Take the LA Kings, for example. Sure, the 2012 Stanley Cup run was quite the anomaly, but their defense lacks any stars and they were part of the whole package of high-scoring and Jonathan Quick that led them to a Cup and the Western Finals in 2013. The defense just needs chemistry, and finding good pairs of D-men who can work together might mean getting one (or two) via trades, possibly. They would have to give up a lot if they want someone that good. But big names don't always work, either.
As we can see, Roy and Sakic are doing their best to showcase the talent while somewhat financially pressured by the higher-ups and owners. A lot of unknown factors are yet to be revealed and we won't see anything until the new season starts.
In essence, everyone will be tested this upcoming year. Roy, Sakic, the goalie tandem and others will determine if the team will be able to progress, or they can fail miserably and set the team back and causing enough damage that would be felt for years to come. Or else, they can make the Avs the best team of the whole bunch and set it up for Cup run.
Here are the new player numbers for the Avs:
André Benoit #61
Nathan MacKinnon #29
Cory Sarich #16
Alex Tanguay retains his #40 from Mark Olver
Mark Olver #10
Tyson Barrie #4
Steve Downie #17
Finally, Kronke Sports Charities are holding the second Jessica Redfield Ghawi giveSPORTS Equipment Drive tomorrow August 24. People can bring in their gear from any sport from hockey to golf so underprivileged children are able to play the game that they love. It's held in honor of my Twitter friend Jessica Ghawi who died in the Aurora theater shooting in 2012. She was an Altitude TV intern and she reported on the Avs extensively, as she was a huge fan. If you have any equipment to donate, go to the Pepsi Center's Camry North Parking Lot between 7 a.m. and noon.