Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers periodically answers questions in the Avs Mailbag during the regular season. Ask an avalanche or NHL question for the Avs Mailbag.
How do you feel about whether there is even a realistic chance for prospects like (Shane) Bowers to do training for Opening Night given the many signings from veterans they seem committed to? It sounds like short-sighted list management, with arguably very average vets.
– Jeff, Broomfield
Those veteran forwards include Dylan Sikura, Kiefer Sherwood and Stefan Matteau and they were reassigned to the Eagles on Thursday. This was followed by Jayson Megna’s reassignment to Loveland on Friday, when Artem Anisimov (trial contract) was also released. Bowers and Martin Kaut were reassigned to the Eagles on Friday, leaving Newhook and Sampo Ranta as rookie strikers still vying for the roster. I suspect they both will. But Bowers had a good performance and proved he is a player for the future.
Hi Mike, I was wondering what you think of a possible Annunen-vs.-Miska save battle. Who would you prefer in the net, should it come to this?
– Ben, Denver
Well, since Pavel Francouz will be missing the first 3-4 weeks of the season, those are probably your two guys at Loveland with the Eagles. It had to be Jonas Johansson and Annunen before Francouz’s injury. Now Johansson is Darcy Kuemper’s replacement. Annunen will get a lot of attention with the Eagles in his first season in North America. He is the club’s best prospect in this position. Miska probably won’t be here next year because 20-year-old Trent Miner is also coming up and will need development in the AHL.
Mike, losing Philipp Grubauer was huge, but I’m glad we were able to land Darcy Kuemper. Do you think we’ve gotten stronger between the pipes with the move? Also, God forbid, he falls with a wound, but who is our number 2 this year?
– Miles, Parker
Your n ° 2 was Francouz but he is now in IR. So it’s Johansson right now. As for the Grubauer-Kuemper comparison, about five inches in height separate them. The 6-foot-5 Kuemper doesn’t give shooters much net. He seems to be as talented as Grubauer, who I consider to be a great 6-foot keeper. It could be an improvement if Kuemper, like Gruabuer, can keep his goals against average below 2.00 (among goaltenders who have played 25 games, Grubauer led the league with a 1.95 GPA last season) .
Hey Mike, who do you think is going to have a bigger breakout season for the Avs this year: Bowen Byram or Alex Newhook? Also, what’s the ETA for our last two first-round players? Do you see Justin Barron or Oskar Olausson making their NHL debuts this year?
– Ryan, centenary
I think Byram is going to flourish – probably on a pairing with Erik Johnson. And it looks like Newhook will start as a left winger on the third row. As for Barron and Olausson, I suspect the former will debut with the Eagles as well, but make his NHL debut this season. Olausson has been reassigned to his junior team in Canada. Maybe he joins the Avs at some point in the spring. He was very impressive at camp at 18.
Will the Avs wear the Nordic-inspired Reverse Retro jerseys in the next season or have they already retired?
– Chris, Littleton
I am not sure. But these duds are really adorable. Speaking of uni, I’m a big fan of the new blue numbers with the white sweaters. The black numbers did not match the blue helmets and gloves introduced last season.
Ave appear to be the favorite to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. What difference must there be for this team?
– Dennis, Arvada
They must become harder and harder to face, more physically imposing. That’s why they brought in defenseman Kurtis MacDermid 6-5, and they really love what defenseman Dennis Gilbert can do in this area when called up. This team doesn’t want to be rushed anymore and allows the superstars to play the game without worrying about taking cheap shots.
Happy to find Landeskog, I feared that the Avs would lose him during the offseason.
– Chris, Aurore
Landeskog is an exceptional captain and a very good winger in both directions. In hockey you pay for a guy like that and that’s what the Avs did in the end. Beyond Landeskog, no one stands out as a captain yet. Maybe MacKinnon, Makar or Rantanen becomes that guy? But you’re right, losing Gabe would have been a lot worse than losing a top winger.
It was good to have fans back in the arena last season, should we expect any changes at Ball Arena? I also wanted to see if there were any updates on the TV dispute.
– Jenny, Thornton
You and me both. The fans make all the difference. At the start of last season at home, the media froze trying to work in the lobby without fans. The building is cold. But it freezes without the fans. As for the Altitude dispute, nothing new to report. Comcast and Dish Network subscribers are still out in the cold.