Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers answers questions in the AVS mailbag from time to time during the regular season. Ask Avalanche- or NHL-related questions for AVS mailbags.
Do you think the slow start of the team is more than two of the five best players in the world who are not playing well or do you think it is something else? Are they missing tow or something? How do you think they will perform against more physical teams? Which AVs do you think are included in the ESPN 100?
— Chris, Denvero
Chris, I think the slow start is a result of a handful of newcomers and a lack of chemistry, which is what Eric Johnson said the other night. But they’ll be fine. They miss Joonas Donskoy, Brandon Saad, Pierre-एडdouard Bellemare and Ryan Graves, but newcomers – especially young people – will eventually fit in. Sampo Ranta and Alex Newhook aren’t ready, but they’re going to be solid NHL players. And they remember Devon Toes, last year’s first pair of defenders. As for materiality, they are better prepared with Kurtis McDermid on the roster. He can come in and play the police if needed.
How many goals would the AVS need to score per game with their sieve goaltender to have any chance of advancing to the playoffs?
— Jack, Hooper
Darcy Kumper was pretty good in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Minnesota. Kumper’s numbers will improve when this talented team finds its groove and allows for fewer shots and Grade-A scoring opportunities. As for Jonas Johansson, he will be with the Colorado Eagles in a week when Pavel Francouz returns. AVS believe they have the best goalscoring depth in coach Jared Bednar’s six-year tenure. I think you’ll see it eventually.
So, Mark Kiszla mentioned that AVS should go out and trade for Buffalo center Jack Eichel. At first I thought it would be a bad move, after thinking more about it it might not be a bad idea. Is Joe Sakic looking to take any early steps this fall?
— Patrick, Englewood
Well, Patrick, the AVS were actually in the Eichel sweepstakes, because the player told Sportnet’s Elliot Friedman that he thought for a while he was going to Colorado — when he was sent to Vegas for Alex Touch and Peyton Krebs and drafted. Chosen early Thursday morning. Make no mistake, if Avs traded for Eichel and hit his $10 million cap through 2025–26, they would have left a big-money player in a long-term contract (probably 2026– 27 through defending Sam Girard at $5 million), a top prospect (perhaps forward Alex Newhook and/or defending teammate Justin Barron) and draft picks. But he would still have to take payroll cuts, which is why Colorado wanted Buffalo to retain some of Eichel’s pay this season. Without it, the AVS doesn’t have the cap space. As my colleague noted in his column, Colorado certainly didn’t want Eichel moving to Vegas, its Western Conference rival. But the Golden Knights will not play Eichel for “3-5 months”, their general manager said on Thursday, due to his pending neck surgery.
I know the season is young but it seems the chemistry is off with this team. What needs to change in the upcoming games?
— Walker, Denver
Newcomers just need to evolve. Sampo Ranta is pointless and minus -4 in nine games. He needs time Same for Alex Newhook, who the AVS thought would be a replacement for Brandon Saad, but is now playing with the Eagles. Last season, AVS led the league with shots for and shots against. That is the recipe for success. And once they get back to playing Toz and Kale Makar together and Mikko Rentenen and Andre Burakovsky are back from the injured list (I believe they play on Saturday), you’ll see that formula again .
Mike, can you explain the in-game salary cap in layman’s terms? Until recently, AVS could produce only 15 players (not including bullets) due to salary cap issue. And that was a game without McKinnon or Landeskog? I am confused?
– Dan Risch, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Players on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) do not count against the pay cap. But regularly injured reserve players count against it. A player can be on a regular IR a minimum of seven days, so the team does not want to lose their services for the entire week if a person is day-to-day.
Avalanche is hovering around 500 now, what is the reason to be worried in LoDo?
— James, Danverso
None. In addition to my other comments above, Bo Byram at this club has potential rookie of the year. He is the next black Capricorn. Look out for Byram, Sam Girard and the three stalwarts – Eric Johnson, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray – along with Toz and Makar. The D Corps will feed forward and give opponents very little time to space in the area of the Avs.