Mailbag: the biggest challenge for Avalanche; most improved equipment

Who is the biggest threat to the Avs in Central? — @punmasterrifkin

I still think it’s the St. Louis Blues with hints of the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars too. But for now, the Blues top the list of teams posing the biggest challenge to the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Central Division and, eventually, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Blues have a championship pedigree built on winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, with forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, brayden-schenn, Robert Thomas Y Ivan Barbashevdefenders colton paraiko Y Robert Bortuzzoand goalkeeper jordan binningtonremaining from the Cup-winning team. Forward Noël Acciari and defense Torey Krug played for the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final against the Blues, and small forward brandon sad and defense nick leddy each won the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues are very experienced and their core, which also has strikers pavel buchnevich (76 points last season) and Jordan Kyro (75), and defense justin faulkhe is talented, skilled and deep.

The Blues have been eliminated by the Avalanche in the playoffs the past two seasons, a 2021 Stanley Cup First Round sweep and a six-game loss in the Western Conference Second Round last season. They know what they are up against. There are no surprises. Also, at least on paper, they have a better goal. I would take Binnington and what we know of him as No. 1 ahead of more Alexander Georgiev and what we have yet to learn about him as No. 1. St. Louis can still play a hybrid style of toughness and skill, as well as any NHL team. The Blues win with puck control and their power play is often effective. If they can keep their penalty in the top 10 (he was fifth at 84.1 per cent last season after being 25th at 77.8 per cent in 2020-21), they will be in contention for first place all season. .

Video: NHL Tonight on the hunt for an Avalanche replay

What is your opinion regarding which teams improved the most this offseason? Are the new goalkeepers from Toronto, Colorado and Edmonton likely to tip the scales in any way? — @jreinitzesq

The Ottawa Senators had the best offseason of any team acquiring forwards Alex De Brincat (trade) and claude giroux (free agent) and goalkeeper Cam Talbot (trade) and signing forwards Tim Stutzle and Joseph Norris to eight-year contracts. Ottawa defenders still give me pause after Thomas Chabot. If we’re going to criticize one area of ​​the Senators it’s in the back, and it’s the main reason I don’t think they’re going to be a playoff team. But if the defense is better than I give it credit for now, they will contend for a playoff spot after missing out by 27 points last season. I don’t think it takes 100 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference like last season, the first time all eight teams qualified with at least 100 points. The Senators could be good enough to get at least 90 this season. It will put them in the mix.

The Seattle Kraken might be the most improved team in the West after finishing last in the Pacific Division with 60 points in its inaugural season. They improved their scoring depth with forwards Andre Burakovsky Y Oliver Björkstrand and the likely additions of full-time centers matty beniersthe No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, and Shane Wright, the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Seattle should be better offensively than they were last season, when they tied the Chicago Blackhawks for 28th with 2.60 goals per game and went 29th on the power play ( 14.6 percent). Goalie Phillip Grubauer must be better than last season, when he went 18-31-5 with a 3.16 goals-against average, .889 save percentage and two shutouts in 55 games (54 starts). Part of that is the Kraken’s need to be better defensively overall, especially in PK (74.9 percent, tied with the Vancouver Canucks for 30th). But they’re on a slow build, and they’ve advanced enough with their roster to potentially be an 80-plus team. Eighty points is a 20-point improvement from last season.

Yes jack campbell he’s healthy, he gives the Edmonton Oilers a better chance to win in the playoffs. I think it’s the same situation as darcy kumper in Colorado last season. Campbell, like Kuemper, is not an elite No. 1, but he is reliable and can generate big games. He needs a little isolation, but he will rarely, if ever, be the Oilers’ biggest concern.

Avalanche expects the same from Georgiev. Be useful. Make the savings you’re supposed to. And make some of the saves that help your team steal a win occasionally.

It’s different with the Toronto Maple Leafs, because their biggest question mark is Ilya Samsonov Y matt murray like the tandem of goalkeepers. The Maple Leafs will be good enough to be a playoff team, even with a mediocre goal, because they are one of the best offensive teams in the NHL. But it’s the playoffs that matter. Their successes or failures there will have consequences for the direction they take after this season. And they’re not going anywhere in the playoffs with a mediocre goal.

You see it Vitaly Kravtsov as a player who has a legitimate shot at the Calder Trophy? He has been noted as the second line right winger with Vicente Trocheck Y artemi panarin. If he stays, it may result in a great season along with Panarin’s mentorship. — @LeszekGronowski

It’s aggressive to say that Kravtsov will be contending for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL Rookie of the Year, after what the New York Rangers forward has shown since he was the No. 9 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Kravtsov’s talent is undeniable. The Rangers want to believe in him, which is why he agreed to a one-year deal on June 13, but he has yet to make it to the NHL level or on North America’s smallest ice surface. He has four points (two goals, two assists) in 20 NHL games. He scored 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 39 American Hockey League games. His success has been limited to what he has done in Russia, including 22 goals in 68 games for Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Kontinental Hockey League the past two seasons, but last season he was limited to a combined 34 games between the KHL regular season and the playoffs. It wasn’t a great developmental year for the 22-year-old who refused to report to the AHL’s Hartford last season after being cut from training camp. He is getting an early opportunity to play with two top NHL forwards in Panarin and Trocheck. If he can stay in that line, or at least in the top nine of the Rangers’ forward group, he’ll have a chance to pick up some points and work his way up Calder’s career.

any sense yes David Pastrnack is he interested in re-signing with the Bruins or if they plan to re-sign him? Even with a good year this year, the sense has to be that david krejci Y Patrice Bergeron he won’t be around for much of his next contract. — @IzzyWeiss

Pastrnak is interested in re-signing with the Boston Bruins. He expressed it two weeks ago, when he told reporters in Boston that he loves the city, he feels like it’s home to him, and called it an honor to wear the Bruins’ jersey. He also said that with a new coach, Jim Montgomery, and a full season before having to decide his next move, there’s no rush to do anything. Pastrnak has one season left on a six-year, $40 million contract ($6.67 average annual value) and can become an unrestricted free agent. Of course, the Bruins and their fans want Pastrnak locked up for the long haul, but he’s smart for the 26-year-old right wing to wait and have some patience, especially to see how he relates to Montgomery. He knows that he cannot play with Bergeron, Krejci and brad marchand forever, but he’s a star player in his own right and the Bruins will have to build around him if they can sign him long-term.

Video: David Pastrnak ranked 26th in the NHL Network countdown

Besides sorting out the last six forwards, what else are the Penguins focusing on during camp? — @TopesWriter

The Pittsburgh Penguins have three new defensemen who could be among their top six offseason additions. jeff petry, Ty Smith Y Jan Rutta. they negotiated mike mateson to Canadians in Montreal and Juan Marino to the New Jersey Devils, and I still have Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman Y Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Working out the defense group, who is in the top six, who fits with whom, and right and left combos are a big part of camp with so much rotation in the group.

You mentioned the last six forwards, which is a big part of that. The Penguins have the potential to score solid depth with a third line of Jeff Carter as the center with Danton Heinen Y Kasperi Kapanen. But Kapanen scored 11 goals in 79 games last season, not enough for a player of his ability. The 26-year-old has a lot to prove, which he won’t be able to do in training camp, but that’s where he has to start.

Selecting the correct wings for sidney crosby Y Yevgeny Malkin is also key. Rickard Rakell he’s getting an early shot at Crosby. bryan rust is having that opportunity with Malkin. Rust has skated a lot with Crosby in recent seasons.

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