We've still got a few more BB's trickling in. It's been great getting the info from the expert's mouth and today is no expection as he have David Driscoll-Carignan in from Mile High Hockey to answer seven fantasy questions related to his Avs. Lots of breakout potential on the Avs with Landeskog, Barrie and Elliott so we'll be very interested in David's answers. Don't forget to pay MHH a visit... they do great stuff over there.
If you're interested in FHS' breakout picks and fantasy take on the Avs check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.
BY DAVID DRISCOLL-CARIGNAN FROM MILE HIGH HOCKEY
Q1) Avalanche Breakout of the Year?
I managed to narrow it down to three.
Semyon Varlamov. He goes into the season as the undisputed #1, playing in front of an improved Avalanche defense. The big question mark will be his health. If he can avoid injuries - and if the defense really is as improved as we're hoping - he could put up some solid fantasy numbers.
Matt Duchene put up 67 points last year with a sometimes eclectic mix of linemates - Mark Olver, Daniel Winnik, Brandon Yip. The Avalanche are still somewhat thin on the wing, but he should have some better partners this year, his 3rd as a pro.
Finally, Erik Johnson shared the workload in St Louis with vets like Barret Jackman, Jay McKee and Eric Brewer and he was used somewhat selectively at times. In Colorado, he is the number one guy on the blueline; his ice time went up about 2 ½ minutes per game after the trade as he was used heavily in all situations. While this could expose him somewhat on the defensive side of things, he'll have a lot more PP time than he did with the Blues and his offensive numbers should get a nice bump.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Avalanche?
Joakim Lindstrom was a low-key signing by the Avalanche, coming over from the Swedish Elite League. He struggled to gain a foothold in his first NHL stint (2 waiver claims and 2 trades in a 6-month period in 2008) and has just 28 points in 81 NHL games. But he led the SEL in scoring last year and has looked solid in camp so far. The Avalanche have a dearth of skilled wingers both on the roster and in the system and Lindstrom is on a 1-way deal, so he should have an opportunity to succeed in Colorado. Then again, we said that about previous imports Jaroslav Hlinka and Per Ledin. Worth a late-round flyer, though.
Peter Mueller missed all of last season with a concussion so he's obviously due for an improvement. Be careful not to overvalue him though, as he has just one 40-point season in his career. Oh, and did I mention he missed all of last season with a concussion?
Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Are the other teams besides the Avs? I should really check into this sometime.
Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on the Avalanche?
The Avs have just 4 players who scored 40 points last year, which makes this kind of tough. David Jones had a breakout year last year with 27 goals, but he's had a tough time staying healthy over his career.
Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on the Avs?
Gabriel Landeskog is a virtual lock to make the roster, but it remains to be seen just how many points he will put up as a rookie. Stefan Elliott is a defenseman who has put up some gaudy numbers in the WHL. He may not crack the roster out of camp, but he'll be around sooner rather than later. And don't discount fellow WHL defenseman Tyson Barrie who has had an excellent camp and could end up stealing a spot for himself.
Q6) How do you see the Avs Goalie Situation playing out this year?
Varlamov should be the key guy, but don't discount backup J.S. Giguere. For all his miles, he's still just 34 and if Varly falters, Giguere could step in get some significant playing time. Coach Joe Sacco hasn't been reluctant to make changes between the pipes. While he rode Craig Anderson to 71 starts two seasons ago, that's the only time in his four years as a pro coach that he's given any one goalie more than 45 appearances.
Q7) Everything went right for the Avs in 2009/10 and not so much in 2010/11. Will this year be more like last season or two years ago?
The Avalanche were terrible defensively and between the pipes last year. Both areas have been overhauled. The Avs now have two capable goaltenders in Semyon Varlamov and J.S. Giguere. And the defense has gotten considerably bigger and more physical and should be more stable this year. With a middle-of-the-pack offense, that should at least put them back on par with the 2009-2010 season where they squeaked into the final playoff spot.