Joe Yerdon

It’s Colorado Avalanche day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Colorado Avalanche

There may not have been another team this summer who embraced what it meant to go “back to the future” the way the Colorado Avalanche did.

They fired coach Joe Sacco and replaced him with Patrick Roy. Then they brought former captain Joe Sakic on board as the Executive VP of Hockey Operations all while GM Greg Sherman sits by nervously waiting for the ax to fall on him. Even former defenseman Adam Foote was also added as a defensive coach.

With all that change in the team, it seems to have invigorated some interest in what’s a fascinating young team. With Roy’s addition, the Avalanche will either be entertaining because they’ll be a fun, young team to watch or because Roy will lose his mind when they struggle. Win/win?

Offseason recap

Their front office and coaching stuff was only part of the fun. They brought back former Sakic linemate Alex Tanguay in a deal with Calgary that also saw Cory Sarich come to Denver. David Jones and Shane O’Brien headed out the door to make that happen.

The NHL Draft saw them land offensive powerhouse Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 overall pick. The team has already said MacKinnon will be right there to start the season and having him joining up with recently extended forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene gives Colorado one hell of a young core.

With focus on the youth, not much attention has been paid to long-time veteran Milan Hejduk who is hoping to catch on with another team. That must be awkward with all of his old teammates coming back to roost in the organization.

Free agency saw them not do a whole lot adding depth along the blue line with Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Nate Guenin (Anaheim), and Nick Holden (Columbus) joining the team. The latter two will likely spend more time in Cleveland in the AHL than Denver.

All that aside, hope everyone has their popcorn waiting for the moment Coach Roy blows his top the first time. It’s going to be great.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

PHT Morning Skate: San Jose has new jerseys coming

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

San Jose is teasing that they’ve got new jerseys coming this season. The Sharks are referring to it on Twitter and Instagram as “The Next Wave”. The blip of a swatch from the video is what you see to the right. Only difference so far as I can tell? Less orange.  (Sharks Instagram)

Shawn Matthias could become a big time player for Florida this season. (NHL.com)

If you’ve been wondering what’s going on with the Stanley Cup travels this summer, look no further. (NHL.com)

Just what kind of role will Ryan Smyth play in Edmonton this year? (Edmonton Journal)

Canucks forwards might get pushed around this season if they don’t step up. (The Province)

Some NHL players have stepped up in support of gay rights in the wake of Russia’s opposition to them. Henrik Zetterberg and Victor Hedman chief among them. (Detroit News)

The Stars still haven’t gotten a new deal done with play-by-play man Ralph Strangis. C’mon guys. (Dallas Morning News)

Poll: Is Barry Trotz an elite coach in the NHL?

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If there’s anyone who’s been a mainstay in their job in the NHL it’s Predators coach Barry Trotz.

Since the team began operations in 1998, Trotz has been the man behind the bench. That’s 14 seasons and never once has he been threatened to be dismissed.  After Lindy Ruff was fired by the Buffalo Sabres, Trotz became the longest-tenured coach in the NHL.

With that in mind, here’s a question to ponder:  Is Barry Trotz an elite NHL coach?

Think of the guys around the league you might consider for that label: Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Dave Tippett, Claude Julien. All except Tippett have won a Stanley Cup but he hasn’t had the luxury of steady ownership. Trotz too has been running a team that’s had financial restrictions of a different kind.

GM David Poile has only recently spent big bucks and that was to match the Flyers’ offer sheet for captain Shea Weber. His monster deal aside, anyone that’s come to Nashville has done so with a modest contract and without superstar talent.

Yet still over those 14 seasons, the Predators have made the playoffs seven times. It wasn’t until their sixth season in the league that they made the postseason the first time, but since then they’ve only missed out twice. That kind of success says he’s doing something right.

There are some things working against him. Nashville has never won a division title. It wasn’t until the 2010-11 season that they finally escaped the first round of the playoffs. Last season saw them wind up the fourth-worst team in the league and their worst win percentage since 2001-02.

Does longevity mean being an elite coach though? That’s the debate here. Let us know what you think in our poll.

 

Stats professor says Penguins overpaid for Scuderi

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When the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Rob Scuderi as a free agent this summer, fans loved lauded it saying it was a mistake he was let go four years ago. GM Ray Shero even said as much.

Did they get back on the bandwagon too late though? A statistics professor from St. Lawrence University thinks so.

Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe spoke with Michael Shuckers and he says Scuderi’s underlying statistics say he wasn’t worth the four-year, $13.5 million price tag.

“That’s the one that sticks out to me this year,” Schuckers said. “Pittsburgh is supposed to be a team that’s fairly analytic. All the analytics I’ve seen suggest he’s well past his prime.”

The analytics he’s talking about is the Corsi rating. Scuderi’s wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t $3 million-plus per year good either. Scuderi turns 38 when the deal ends. In other words, the Pens may have paid up big for a guy heading into his declining years.

We’ve seen many defensemen play deep into their 30s and some into their 40s and maintain a top level of play. Scuderi could turn out that way. Maybe.

Considering Pittsburgh’s defensive issues last season, however, they’ll want Scuderi to just play defense and let guys like Kris Letang and Paul Martin worry about generating goals.

Can Nashville’s 2013 draft pick defensemen make this year’s team?

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One of the biggest things to happen at the NHL Draft for the Nashville Predators was seeing No. 1 prospect defenseman Seth Jones fall into their lap with the fourth overall pick.

Many people believe Jones is the guy who will make Ryan Suter an afterthought in Nashville. Meanwhile, third-round pick Jonathan-Ismael Diaby has some thinking he along with Jones will be the Suter-Shea Weber combo of the Preds’ future.

The question to ask now is: Can both players make the Preds roster this season? It could happen.

Here’s what Nashville’s defensive setup looks like right now:

Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Kevin Klein – Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
Victor Bartley

The top four seems almost destined to happen. Josi had a breakout season playing alongside Weber and earned himself a big contract extension because of it. Some think Jones is set to play alongside Weber, but they’re both right-handed shots. Pairing the improving Klein with Jones would seem more likely.

Those final two spots would seem to be up for grabs and Diaby could fit into that mix.

source:  At 6’5″ 223-pounds, Diaby is already NHL-sized as an 18-year-old. Last season with Victoriaville in the QMJHL, he had just 4 goals and 22 assists but punished opponents to the tune of 117 penalty minutes. That kind of mean streak and physicality is lacking on the Preds blue line as Ekholm and Ellis are better puckhandlers than hitters.

Nashville’s “Smashville” brand of hockey gets plenty of grit-and-grind from the forwards but it’s lacking from the defense. Diaby could change that up drastically.

One thing working against the possibility is age. Would coach Barry Trotz trust two 18-year-old defenseman to make the jump right into the NHL? Jones is a virtual lock to start right away but Diaby may need more refinement to his game. Trotz along with new assistant coach and legendary defenseman Phil Housley will have plenty to look at when camp opens next month.