Jibble is still moving, so I'm in charge for draft weekend. I'm resisting the urge to prank the site somehow (Making the background a tiled Arnason face? A tribute to Jibble's love of Kris Draper?), but in lieu of that I do have some actual hockey matters to discuss.
The Avs will draft either Duchene, Tavares, and Hedman. It will probably be Duchene. Then they will take a bunch of other guys I've never heard of or seen play, and I will suddenly become very high on them to become NHL studs.
END DRAFT PREVIEW
Seriously, it's very hard to get any feel for the draft here in Colorado. We can't see these guys play on TV or in the rink, and so all we get is some draft previews, scouting reports, and media speculation. I'm excited for the NHL draft because I think the Avs could improve their prospect talent pool dramatically, but it's not like the NFL draft for me. The NFL draft, I tend to know most players in at least the first 3-4 rounds from my college football watching, and that adds a great deal to the whole experience.
What I do have some ability to speculate about with respect to draft day is our goaltending situation. As you may or may not know, the Avs need a goaltender. There's a lot of good options out there, and in a strange twist of fate, there's not that many teams looking either. Only Edmonton, ourselves, and Toronto are without a #1 right now, and there's only a couple other teams even looking for a tandem-ish guy -- Detroit, St. Louis, and Philly.
It's a really good time to be a buyer. I'm sure most of you know the best options out there, but I want to review them anyways, with my take on a couple of new things. Goalies are presented in order of best fit:
Josh Harding (Available via trade or offer sheet from the Wild)
I still think he's the best option out of a pretty deep group. He's young, has posted some good numbers in a limited role, has no warts on his game or temperament, and Minny has to move him to avoid a ridiculous cap situation. Minny fans expect a king's ransom for him, and under different circumstances they'd be correct, but with the lack of serious buyers, the abundance of other options, and the pressing concern of losing Harding to an offer sheet in restricted free agency they're going to have to take what they can get.
I'd love for the Avs to offer Montreal's 2nd and Svatos on draft day for Harding. It's doubtful other teams will be making serious offers that day, as St. Louis, Detroit and Philly don't have a great need for Harding, and Toronto and Edmonton are waiting to hear back from Gustavsson and Roloson respectively. A well-timed offer that guarantees Minny a decent return and dodges a lower return or cap hell from an offer sheet could win the day here.
If a bigger deal was what Minny fans wanted and we already had Duchene, I'd think hard about Wolski + Hensick for Harding + Sheppard (whom they are also attempting to trade). I think Sheppard could blossom here.
Jonas Gustavsson (Available via UFA)
He's the best goalie not currently playing the NHL. He's cheap, coming on a entry level contract. He costs no assets in trade. He'd be an awesome fit here.
Unfortunately, he seems to want to be mentored by another goalie for a bit and we don't even have a goaltending coach. I've speculated that could actually be a part of the pitch to him ("you can help pick your own coach!") but it would appear Toronto is the leader in the clubhouse on Gustavsson, and Dallas is in second place.
The best thing to come out of the Gustavsson experience might be the limbo he's holding Toronto in. It may permit us to snag Harding or the next goaltender on the cheap while Toronto waits.
Ondrej Pavelec (Available in trade from Atlanta)
Atlanta has an established yet oft injured goaltender in Kari Lehtonen, and a disgruntled super-prospect in Pavelec behind him. The Atlanta GM has made it known he's listening to offers for each.
While Lehtonen's price will almost certainly be too high and come with massive question marks on his health, it might be worth taking a flyer on Pavelec. Some combination of the the ubiquitous Svatos/Hensick/2nd rounder packages might be enough to land him. If Harding and Gustavsson are both gone, it would be worth trying this.
Marty Biron (Available in UFA)
Biron is a solid starter, costs no assets other than cap space, and probably won't have any legit suitors but us in UFA. He's getting a little older so he's not going to be confused with a franchise-type option, but he'd be a great fit here nonetheless.
The flip side of that is that he is demanding 5m per year on a longer term offer. That's WAY too much, and the Avs need to run the other way if he sticks to his guns on that. If we could talk him down to 3-3.5m per year, it works. In all likelihood, he will probably play hardball and depart for Russia if we don't pay. I'll be interested to see what happens with his situation.
Craig Anderson (Available in UFA)
Anderson played great in a "long-term relief" type role last year for Florida, he's fairly young, and he's going to be pretty cheap, around 2m. There's a lot of question marks about him as a #1 starter, but I think he's at least a decent tandem guy, far better than Raycroft. If none of the guys above work out, Anderson works just fine as a stopgap with upside for me.
There's a ton of other guys out there, older guys like Roloson, Fernandez or Khabibulin and younger less proven guys like Garon, Nitty, or Clemmenson, but let's be honest: if for some reason we get down to these guys, we'll get them by sheer virtue of being the only starting job available.
The goaltending saga is by far the most interesting plot of this offseason to me, more even than our draft (which seems a foregone conclusion of Duchene to me). Let's hope the Avs play this one right, they've certainly got the right situation laid out for them.
Finally, I am still planning on attending development camp for a day in July, probably Saturday the 11th or Sunday the 12th. This should be our first glimpse of Duchene and all of our other incoming prospects, so it should be pretty well attended. Honestly I prefer rookie camp a bit more -- it's more scrimmaging than just drills like dev camp -- but the college guys don't attend that and I want to see Duchene. :)
I'd also like to make this a bit of a fan-meet too. I'll be working on Jibble to attend, and I know I should get another blog poster/family member coming with me. If anyone else is attending or is piqued by the idea, send me a line at thedoctor692 at gmail.com and we'll try to set something up.