Colorado Avalanche: Puck Daddy’s 2015-16 NHL Season Preview

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(The 2015-16 NHL season is nearly upon us! Why bother watching this team? What will make or break the season? Find out as we preview all 30 teams as camps begin!)

Last Season: 39-31-12, 90 points, last in Central Division 

2014-15 Season, In One Tweet

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Did They Get Better, Worse, Or Are They About The Same

After an incredible first season under Patrick Roy, the Avalanche regressed to where fancy stats wonks expected them to be. The Avs had the offense but they needed to shore up their defense and made an attempt to do so with their moves. Yet they may not have been enough to make a big difference.

The Avalanche kicked off their off-season activities with two big trades. The first came by way of a trade for center Carl Soderberg whose contract was expiring, and the Avs were willing to fork over $23.75-million over five-years to get him. Knowing they would have Soderberg locked up, the more expensive Ryan O'Reilly - and his contentious relationship with Colorado management - became expendable. The return for O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn was Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov and more.

The team signed stay-at-home defenseman Francois Beauchemin to an eyebrow raising three-year deal. Center Blake Comeau came over from Pittsburgh via free agency. Defenseman Brandon Gormley was acquired from Arizona. Lastly, Danny Briere retired but as a part of the Flyers, despite ending his career with the Avs.

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Five Most Fascinating Players

1. Carl Soderberg, F

Essentially the Avalanche decided to take a chance on Soderberg’s potential over what they knew they had with Ryan O’Reilly. O'Reilly shared 1C duties with Matt Duchene; whereas, Soderberg has been in the shelter of Patrice Bergeron with the Bruins.

2. Francois Beauchemin, D

What does it say about one's defense when Beauchemin is the highest paid defender THIS season? Beauch is a solid top-6 guy, but his best years are behind him. His job for the next three seasons - he's 35, mind you -  is to try to get the Colorado defense in line.

3. Jarome Iginla, F

In his first season with the Avs, Iggy tied Gabriel Landeskog for the team lead in scoring with 59-points. That’s saying something for the oldest guy on the team. At 38, Iginla has two more years left on his current contract and possibly his career. If he wants to finish off his career with a Cup, Colorado, sadly, is not the team that's going to get him there. His $5.33-million cap hit makes it difficult to get him to a contender with the Avs retaining a portion of his salary.

4. Erik Johnson, D

On Tuesday, the defenseman signed a hefty $42-million contract extension. The prevailing question is: did he earn it? Getting the contract negotiations behind him is a double-edged sword. He won't have the negotiations (or the possibility of a trade) hanging over his head; however, he won't have that 'contract year' fire under his butt and now he has to justify the big payday.

5. Nathan MacKinnon, F

MacKinnon was the first to admit he went through a sophomore slump.The first-overall pick is a big piece of Colorado's future. Now entering the final year of his ELC, the 20-year-old is feeling the pressure to return to his Calder-winning self.

Potentially The Best Thing About This Team

They have a wealth of potentially really good forwards to fill in the top-6. Duchene, MacKinnon, Landeskog, and maybe even Soderberg can each score upwards of 60+ points when surrounded by the right complementary players,

Potentially The Worst Thing About This Team

The team's defense is exactly what they're expected to be - swiss cheese.

Dream 3-on-3 OT Group

Erik Johnson will be guard the blueline for any number of potentially deadly forward combinations. Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon add the speed and scoring touch to terrify goalies.

Coach Hot Seat Rating (1-10, 10 being scorching hot)

Five. Roy is entering his third season as the Avalanche head coach. His good buddy Joe Sakic is the GM, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's sitting pretty. Roy's challenge lies in finding a balance between pushing offense and preaching responsible puck possession.

Awkward Old School Video Break

Did you know the Avs were mentioned on The Simpsons?

Their Best Case Scenario Is …

Offense overpowers everything. Who cares if the other team scores five goals if they can score six?

Their Nightmare Scenario Is …

They rely too heavily on the goaltending of Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra to make up for the deficiencies everywhere else.

Prediction

The team has the potential to be scary good as they develop talent through their system. BUT the defense and offense are developing at two very different paces. Patchwork defense and a young, talented offense aren't a good combination. The Avalanche miss the playoffs in a very competitive Central Division.

PUCK DADDY SEASON PREVIEW 2015-16: Winnipeg Jets/Washington Capitals/Vancouver Canucks/Tampa Bay Lightning/San Jose Sharks/Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers/Ottawa Senators/New York Rangers/New York Islanders/New Jersey Devils/Nashville Predators/Montreal Canadiens/Minnesota Wild/Los Angeles Kings/Florida Panthers/Detroit Red Wings/Dallas Stars/Columbus Blue Jackets

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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