The Avs are in the middle of a 3-game losing streak and everyone's freaking out, with good reason. The Avs are going no where fast with this particular team. A lot of people are starting to talk about blowing the team up, and the Avs need a major overhaul.
And while the Avs do need a lot of work in the offseason, remember this is a team that isn't that far removed from making the second round last season. I think there are little things that can be done that could ensure a successful season (think playoffs) without creating havoc on the Avs roster or salary cap.
#1 Replace Darcy Tucker with Brenden Shanahan.
I hate using the term "lack-of-effort". I think a lot of times it's a lazy way of describing a team that is doing things wrong when we can't pinpoint what that is. Like if the Avs just tried harder they would be winning more games.
But Darcy Tucker has shown a bona fide "lack of effort" in a lot of games this season. He takes stupid penalties and doesn't offer anything on the defensive end, and offers very little on the offensive end. He just looks disinterested.
The Avs are currently 26th in the league in scoring (Up-Tempo offense FOR THE WIN!!!111!1). If there's two things that Brenden Shanahan does well they are: give effort effort and finish. He's old and a little washed up, but he's perfect for our third line. He also costs the Avs no draft picks to acquire and it would be hard to argue that he wouldn't help this team out (it couldn't hurt). The Avs also have shown little in forward depth this season (although Stewert has been a welcome surprise).
#2 get a reasonable 3rd line center in a trade.
There are some centers that could be had for the right price. I don't think the Avs should overreact and go and try and trade their core for Spezza or someone. But the Avs could make a reasonable pitch for a guy like Antoine Vermette of Ottawa or Doug Weight. Edmonton has a boatload of young centers, and they might want to swap for a winger.
Another guy to look at is Jordan Staal of Pittsburgh. He's rumored to be on the block because of his upcoming expected salary. The Avs would be well served to float TJ Hensick and a 2nd rounder Pittsburgh's way in exchange for the very good young Centerman.
# 3 - Time for Granato to go
Man I absolutely hate calling for a coaches head so quickly. I think it takes a full season to usually evaluate a coach and his staff. But there are exceptions to every rule, and this is an exception. I hinted at this above, but the Avs were supposed to enter a new era with an up-tempo offense that would take advantage of the Avs skill players and become a high octane attack.
But that hasn't happened. In fact the Avs offense has regressed from last season to this one. The Avs are 26th in the league in offense this season averaging 2.49 points per game. That's a .24 drop from last season, when the Avs were saddled with a defensive minded coach. Last year Avs fans, justifiably, whined about Joel Quenneville's "3 forwards behind the goal-line" offense. But at least there was a system in place last year. This season there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the Avs attack. The "missing Sakic and Stastny" excuse doesn't work because it didn't last season.
Are we a dump and chase team? An offensive rush team? A plant a guy behind the net and distribute team? Shoot from the point and use big bodies to bang away rebounds? We're 40 games into the season and I don't think anyone could give a definitive answer to that.
The good news is that there's actually a pretty healthy supply of coaching candidates that could fill in, even if just in the interim. Pat Burns will be wrapping up a successful run in the World Juniors this week, and two of the candidates that I thought the Avs should have interviewed in this last offseason; Kevin Dineen [Portland Pirates] and DU coach George Gwozdecky (if you could pry them away from their current teams midseason.) There are even some coaching re-treads that I wouldn't be opposed to. Tortorella is one name thrown around, but I'd be happier with the recently deposed former Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette. If all else fails we could bring in Bob Hartly and take one more step in the Avs palindrome circle of coaching.
The problem with all three above scenarios is that it involves Avs management, and specifically Francois Giguere, admitting he made multiple mistakes this last offseason. The Avs have been traditionally stubborn to even let people think, for one second, that this organization makes mistakes. But they really can't hide from it anymore. The difference between bad management and good management isn't the number of mistakes one commits, but how well they admit and correct the mistakes they do make. FG mad mistakes this offseason, but has a chance right now to partially correct them.
FYI: I am going to hurt myself patting myself on the back here, but the four things I said the Avs needed to address this off-season was:
1. 3rd line center
2. Backup goalie
And gave my selections for whom I wanted for each position.
1. Brenden Morrison: 8G, 6A, 47.7% FO %
Michael Peca : 3G, 6A, 50.5% FO%
Sergei Federov: 4G, 8A 56.5% FO%
Tyler Arnason: 2G, 8A, 47.3%
2. Backup Goalie
I'm not looking up stats. I know Valiquette, Holqvist and Thibault have been better than Raycroft.
How's that McLellan guy doing in San Jose, I thought we should interview? and How's DeBoer doing in Florida...
Oh Florida's overachieving, and San Jose is arguably the best team in the league.
Hagman: 11G, 11A for Toronto
Huselius: 12G, 13A for Columbus
Sillman: 8G, 8A for Florida
Vrbata: washed out of the league
Darcy Tucker: 5G, 4A, 50 unnecessary momentum killing penalties.
Last season the Avs listened to me and the Avs made the second round of the playoffs. This season they didn't and they are struggling. There's a lesson here.
Update someone needs to fire the editor. The typos in this post were awful.