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Offseason Questions Await Beaten Avalanche, Canucks

The Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks likely had a different outlook after being eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals.

The Avalanche were one of the favorites in the odds to win the Stanley Cup throughout the season, but could not fight through adversity in the second round. Colorado won Game 1 in Dallas but lost four of the next five against the Stars.

Offseason Questions Await Beaten Avalanche, Canucks
Pettersson of Canucks and MacKinnon of Avalanche - Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Canucks began the season with hopes of making the playoffs for the first time in four years, but a Pacific Division title was not among many NHL expert picks. Vancouver was forced to go with its third-string goalie after injuries in the playoffs and lost to Edmonton 3-2 in Game 7.

Colorado has a lot of questions to answer and free agents to sign. The Canucks have some work to do on free agents as well but have seemed to find a winning formula with Jack Adams Award front-runner Rick Tocchet at the helm.

It’s too early to tell what their NHL future odds will be for 2024-25, but both teams have the tools to be a factor again.


Avalanche Collapses In End

Colorado looked like the best team in the league at times during the regular season. But a 4-5-2 finish might have been the precursor for a strange postseason.

The Avs gave up seven goals in the first game of the playoffs at Winnipeg before winning four straight. Colorado then lost three of the first four versus Dallas, saw its leading goal scorer in the playoffs suspended and fell in six games.

Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon led the league’s top offense with 140 points, but the Avalanche were 17th in goals against. Goalie Alexandar Georgiev finished with an .897 save percentage. Adjustments and improvements must be made on the defensive end.

There are a lot of questions to answer outside of their free agent list. Can Gabriel Landeskog ever come back from injury? What will become of suspended forward Valeri Nichushkin, who will be in the NHL/NHPA Assistance Program until at least November.

However, Colorado has MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar to lead the way.

The rest of the roster will need work. The Avs must decide whether to try and keep UFA rentals Yakov Trenin, Brandon Duhaime and Sean Walker, along with RFA center Casey Mittelstadt. Expect Mittelstadt to be back as No. 2 or 3 center.

Jonathan Drouin, who finished with a career-high 56 points, is a UFA and worked well with MacKinnon and Rantanen. Expect him to be back.

Until the final roster is suited up for the opener in October, it will be hard to make any NHL predictions on how good Colorado can be in 2024-25.


Canucks Hope to Run It Back

Vancouver President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and General Manager Patrik Allvin have plenty of decisions to make on next season’s roster, but it is a good bet many of their free agents will want to make another run in the uniform.

The Canucks have wrapped up forwards J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson, along with Norris Trophy finalist Quinn Hughes, for multiple years. But they will need to surround them and Vezina Trophy finalist Thatcher Demko with talent and experience.

Forwards Dakota Joshua, Elias Lindholm and Teddy Blueger along with defensemen Nikita Zadorov, Ian Cole and Tyler Myers are unrestricted free agents. Zadorov, Joshua and Blueger are key reasonably-priced cogs to start with. Cole and Myers may be on the move.

Restricted free-agent defenseman Filip Hronek (48 points, +33) will be due for a raise and RFA goalie Arturs Silovs gave Vancouver every chance after Demko went down with an injury. Expect Silovs to be back as No. 2.

The other issue is a potential extension for forward Brock Boeser, who had 40 goals. Boeser missed Game 7 versus Edmonton with a blood-clotting issue and is out indefinitely.

The Canucks were sixth in the league in scoring and sixth in goals against. If they can continue those positions, you might want to use them in your sport betting come October.



Questions Of The Day

Can Colorado win the Central Division next season?

Yes. With MacKinnon, Rantanen and Makar in uniform, anything can happen.

Will Vancouver re-sign Elias Lindholm?

No. Tough call, but the Canucks may not have the cap room to bring back a high-priced center.

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