The Burgundy Letter
by Martin Krantz on 09/21/11 at 11:47 AM ET
I’m down and out with the flu, so I’m currently drinking a lot of my country’s equivalent to Nyquil - only ours contains morphine instead. The Avs finished training camp yesterday with the traditional Burgundy/White-game, and needless to say, I’m very very happy. Not so much about training camp. But very very happy. Since you all now have the option to remove some blogs from your reading list thanks to Paul’s hard work, I’m certain that an Avs blog on a Detroit-dominated website suddenly has no readers, and I’m writing this purely for my own enjoyment. But still - very very happy.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned from training camp and what to expect in the upcoming pre-season games. Did we get an answer to the questions posed heading into training camp? Which players should you keep an eye on this season, and since I’m putting some teams together myself - who might be a good fit on your fantasy team?
The answer: none. We’re the second worst team in the league.
Erik Johnson had an excellent camp, from what I hear. Since I’m based in Sweden I have no way to follow our training camps closely (I do watch all games though), but I hear that his lower body is a lot stronger this season after changing his workout regimen. He has played with a chip on his shoulder during training camp, proving that he belongs in the discussion as to who will be the next Avalanche captain. He flat out crushed Gabriel Landeskog in one of the scrimmages, and has been producing well offensively, scoring the game-winner in the Burgundy/White game. This is a player I’d actually consider for my fantasy team - he’ll get plenty of power play time, he’s hitting everything that moves, and the Avs look much improved in both goal and defence so his +/- hopefully won’t be horrible.
Joakim Lindstrom was the best scorer in the Swedish Elite League last year, and you might want to monitor him in the upcoming pre-season games. He’s been paired with Paul Stastny and David Jones which seems like a surprise given that Landeskog was expected to start on one of the top two lines. But he’s been really impressive during camp and will most likely start with Stastny and Jones on the first line against Dallas on thursday. He has a great shot and good passing skills, so he might be a good sleeper pick in deeper leagues. I’ll make sure to report on how he performs durings the pre-season games as well.
Gabriel Landeskog will probably start on the third line against Dallas, paired with Ryan O’Reilly and (I’m guessing) Chuck Kobasew, although the spot with Lando and RoR is wide-open right now. Landeskog hasn’t looked out of place during camp, fitting in nicely with the other NHL-players. He’s a sure-fire thing to crack the opening night roster, but his production might hurt a bit from playing on the third line and in that case seeing very limited time on special teams. I’m a little surprised that Landeskog hasn’t been given an opportunity to play with Stastny or Duchene at all during training camp. On the other hand, he’s looked good and had decent chemistry with Ryan O’Reilly, who might be able to break through offensively this season and would appreciate having a scoring power forward on his wing in Landeskog.
Stastny is looking solid, and I don’t think you’ll see a repeat performance of his poor 2010-2011 season. Expect him to bounce back with a 70-75 point season. Matt Duchene is also a safe pick for any fantasy roster. With the Avs (barring injuries) being able to ice two scoring lines, I think Duchene reaching somewhere betweeen 70 and 80 points isn’t stretching it.
Peter Mueller is back with the team after being sidelined last year with concussion issues. He was reunited with Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk, and that line has found instant chemistry again. They didn’t produce a whole lot of points during training camp, but they are looking really good and I’m sure scoring will pick up during the pre-season games for this line when the games start to matter a little more. I’d suggest you take a wait-and-see approach with him, because while Mueller is looking great skill-wise, his conditioning still might leave some questions to be answered. He hasn’t seen NHL action in nearly one and a half year and might have to be eased into it.
On defence, the lower lines are pretty much wide-open. Matt Hunwick has played better in training camp and might have the inside track, but Stefan Elliott did well in the Burgundy/White game, garnering praise from coach Joe Sacco.
As for Varlamov, he’s looking pretty good. He’s been solid in net, while the real breakout player in goal during the camp has been fin Sami Aittokallio who isn’t on the roster this year but definitely looks like he’ll be in the discussion in a couple of years.
Let’s finish up this post with a youtube-video of Varlamov making a great save on a penalty shot by Matt Duchene.
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