logo
One of the biggest reasons NHL observers felt the Avs got robbed in the Varlamov trade is that many feel the 1st rounder the Avs are giving up next season in a likely lottery pick in a deep draft. Many Avs fans, who have bought off on the trade, feel this club is vastly improved over last season's addition.

So with the new addiditons, and the added benefit of another year of maturity, let's take a look at how much the Avs may improve:

The first place to tackle is goaltender, and luckily I've already done a lot of the legwork for this.  I didn't even think of putting Varlamov in those stats, so I'm going to go ahead and post those here:

Varlamov ES Sh ES GA ES sv% PPsh PP GA PP sv% SH sh SH GA SH sv%
2010-2011 611 43 0.930 130 14 0.892 18 1 0.944
2009-2010 591 42 0.929 111 22 0.802 16 1 0.938
2008-2009 123 10 0.919 31 3 0.903 5 0 1.000
Varlamov 1325 95 0.928 272 39 0.857 39 2 0.949

And for reference, here's Giguere's:

Giguere ES Sh ES GA ES sv% PPsh PP GA PP sv% SH sh SH GA SH sv%
2010-2011 634 57 0.910 121 20 0.835 22 1 0.955
2009-2010 803 68 0.915 204 23 0.887 24 5 0.792
2008-2009 937 84 0.910 309 41 0.867 28 2 0.929
Giguere 2374 209 0.912 634 84 0.868 74 8 0.892

Now I've run 2 different scenarios. The first is a Healthy Varlamov as the starter (60 games) and Giguere as the backup (22 games). But considering in his 3 seasons Varlamov hasn't faced a full season's worth of shots combined because of injuries, I went ahead and ran a scenrarion in which he only plays 22 games and Giguere plays 60:

ES Sh ES GA ES sv% PPsh PP GA PP sv% SH sh SH GA SH sv% GA
Avs 10-11 2094 193 0.908 442 74 0.834 59 6 0.896 272
Varlamov/Giguere 2094 159 0.924 442 62 0.860 59 4 0.933 225
Giguere/Varlamov 2094 175 0.916 442 60 0.865 59 5 0.907 241


So, with just goaltender improvements alone the avs can expect to improve anywhere from 31-47 GA this season, at your standard 6 goals/win that's an improvement of 5-8 wins in the season. That improvement, alone, would move the Avs from 29th place to Anywhere between 26th-23rd place. Now lets look at the Avs other offseason moves:

Lose JM-Liles, add Jan Hejda

John Michael Liles had his best season last season for the Avalanche. In fact pretty much every advanced statistic has him having a fantastic seasons. His Relative Corsi was 3rd on the team (however, that's an Ozone start of >55%, which has an effect on that), and Tom Awad's GVT (which you can read about in a 3 part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) also has him as 3rd on the team at 9.6, (behind only Stastny and Duchene).  That's quite the loss. (As an aside, Liles was likely playing a bit over his head, so there would be a natural loss there anyways).

The good news: Jan Hejda also had a very good season for Columbus, his GVT was a healthy 6.6 and his Corsi (combined with his zone start and QualComp) lead me to believe he's pretty much an average defenseman. That's not a ringing endorsement, but for this team it's pretty good.

I think the loss of Liles and addition of Hejda works out to nearly a push

Getting Better

There's a few other signings of some note: Shane O'Brien, Patrick Rissmiller, but what may help the Avs more than anything next seaso is getting older, and shedding some bad luck. What a lot of the hockey establishment doesn't realize, or forgets, is that the Avs were actually a decent team the first part of last season. And as the Corsiatti have pointed out, there are a lot of teams that fade in the second half as their good luck catches up to them (See Thrashers, Atlanta 2010-2011). But the 10-11 Avs weren't one of those teams. In fact the Avs Corsi, and Corsi at even score, even strength, was pretty good through the all-star break (And, since I don't know how to break Corsi out in season splits yet, you'll just have to trust that my memory, which isn't anywhere near infallible). Kyle Quincey and Scott Hannan were lost for the season (injury and trade), and the Av suddenly were without their top defenseman pairing.

The Avs had a ton of injuries. They were second in man-games lost which is where I think they ended up at the end of the season. The worst part of those injuries is that they were all piled in the worst places, obliterating depth. These weren't just injuries, but significant injuries at unlucky times. That luck should turn, albeit nothing is guaranteed.

The Avs have a ton of young players, and a ton of players coming off career worst years. By my count the young' ins are:
Duchene
Galiardi
O'Reilly
Johnson
Guance
Wilson

And they have a few coming off injury:
Quincey
Mueller
Galiardi (again)

And a few who just had abnormally bad seasons:
Stastny
McLeod
McClement
Galiardi (again)

The Avs will have players that have bad seasons again, and they will have players who get injured again. But the above players all have a good chance of havign better seasons than they did last season. Again, nothing guaranteed, but it's not unreasonable to think that young players will get better, hurt players will be healthier, and bad seasons will get better (and I could spend $5 on Tom Awad's Vukota to see if I'm being optomistic or reasonable, but I'm not sure it's worth it for one blog post). The Avs were a team that got 1/2 a point per game the last 1/3 of the season or so. 1/2 a point per game is a historically bad pace (like worst since the lockout over a full season). Does anyone believe this collection of players Avs are that bad of a team? 

This may or may not be a playoff team, but it's not a historically bad team.

All in all, it's the offseason, and it's time to talk yourself into your team for the following season. I'm convinced. I think the Avs will be a much better team than they were the last part of last season, and I think overall they will be significantly better