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Fantasy Puck Preview: Colorado Avalanche

Scott Cullen
9/3/2009 11:53:04 AM
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Injuries have hampered Paul Stastny in each of the last two seasons, yet he's been a productive playmaker when healthy, so the Colorado Avalanche will have to lean on him heavily this season. Stastny has 185 points in 193 career games, so point-per-game production would seem reasonable, but may be asking a lot given the supporting cast.

Veteran sniper Milan Hejduk is the only returning Avalanche player to have scored more than 42 points last season, so he's going to play a prominent role for as long as he stays in Colorado. Entering the final year of his contract, he could easily be trade bait at some point, if the Avalanche season goes as expected.

Beyond those two, the Avalanche are banking on potential. Wojtek Wolski has sensational skills, but has seen his point totals drop in each of the last two seasons. If he ends up skating on Stastny's wing, that might give the shootout ace a legitimate chance at his best pro production.

Marek Svatos is very skilled with the puck, but has never played 70 games in a season and, at 27, it's getting a little late in the game to count on a breakout season.

Colorado needs a young centre, either T.J. Hensick or third overall pick Matt Duchene, to help provide offence, but that's asking a lot from players that haven't done it in the NHL before.

For those in deep leagues that count penalty minutes as a category, consider Chris Stewart or Cody McLeod, wingers who can score (at least a little) and aren't afraid to drop the mitts.

Though he was saddled with an unsightly minus-19 rating last season, Colorado's John-Michael Liles is a proven point producer on blueline. Given an improved situation in goal, that minus shouldn't be quite so awful this season. More on that in a moment.

Also consider newly-acquired Kyle Quincey, who notched 27 of his 38 points on the Kings' power play last season.

So, to the goaltending. Craig Anderson was terrific in Florida last season, and in limited action for two seasons before that, so there is some reason to believe that he could be good for 55 starts in Denver. One factor working in Anderson's favour is that he faced 35.8 shots per 60 minutes in Florida last year, while the Avalanche only allowed 28.7 shots per 60 minutes in 2008-2009.

If the nightly workload isn't quite as heavy, then it could be easier for the 28-year-old to handle his first rull-time starting job and possibly provide some sleeper fantasy value along the way.

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