Not since Joe Sakic, or perhaps Peter Forsberg, have the Colorado Avalanche had a true star forward. Now, it appears as if they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is, signing 20-year old wunderkind Gabriel Landeskog to a seven-year contract extension.With this extension, believed to be worth about $39 million, it looks as if the Avalanche have the player they plan on building their franchise around.
Is he worth it? I think so. In a short, but sweet two-year career with the Avalanche, all he’s done is score – 31 goals and 38 assists in 119 NHL games after being selected second overall in the 2011 NHL draft. His +/- 16 is nothing to sneeze at either.
During his freshman season, alone, the young Swede scored 52 points (22-28), led rookies in shots and goals (playing all 82 games). He was rewarded with the Calder Cup Trophy that year and wore the Av’s “C” on his jersey during the 2012-13 season. At 19 years, nine months and 13 days, he became the youngest captain in NHL history, beating out Sidney Crosby by 11 days.No matter how you look at it, the 2013-14 season should be an interesting one for the Avs. Former players highlight the coaching staff – Patrick Roy is the head coach/VP of Hockey Operations, with Adam Foote as Defense Development Consultant– while the front office reads like a Who’s Who of Avalanche alumni – with Craig Billington serving as Assistant General Manager, Pierre Lacroix as advisor, and Joe Sakic Joe Sakic taking on Executive Vice-president of Hockey Operations/Alternate Governor responsibilities. Even Adam Deadmarsh is serving as a Colorado Scot.
On the ice, there’s been enough subtle changes to the Colorado, especially on the defensive side.
Following a seven-year absence, former Avalanche Alex Tanguay was re-acquired from the Calgary Flames, along with D Cory Sarich, for F David Jones and D Shane O’Brien. July 5 appeared to have been “Toughen Up the Avalanche Blue Line” day, as they signed free agent defensemen JT Wyman (Tampa Bay), Dick Holden (Columbus), Nate Guenin (Anaheim) and Andre Benoit (Ottawa) before the day was over.
They also signed F Geoff Walker from Tampa Bay on the 5th, as well. With the exception of Jean-Sebastian Giguere (36 years old), Sarich (35), Tanguay (33) and Pa Parenteau (30), the entire roster consists of 20-some year olds.
Will this help the Avs return to the playoffs after a prolonged playoff drought? We’ll have a better idea once the season starts.