Fantasy Puck Preview: Colorado Avalanche

Scott Cullen
9/15/2010 11:09:38 AM
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The Colorado Avalanche were one of the biggest surprises in 2009-2010; can their young guns do it again?

Paul Stastny is the closest thing the Avs have to a point-per-game player and with 264 points in 274 career games, he's awfully close. Coming off a career-high 79 points, 24-year-old Stastny is a safe point producer.

Pushing Stastny to be Colorado's premier offensive creator, second-year centre Matt Duchene led all rookies with 55 points last season and has the potential to blow up offensively, whether it's this season or some point in the near future.

Few players make the kind of quantum leap that Chris Stewart made last season, jumping from 19 points as a rookie to 64 points in his second season. The power forward also had nearly a penalty minute per game, making him extra valuable if he can keep up his offensive production.

Just when it looked like Peter Mueller's career was ready to circle the drain, the 22-year-old was traded to Colorado at the deadline last year and finished with 20 points in the last 15 games, re-establishing the offensive credentials he formed while scoring 54 points as a rookie in 2007-2008.

Mueller's season was ended by a concussion, but if he's healthy now, he has the size and skill to be a productive scorer, growing with the other talented young forwards in Colorado.

34-year-old Milan Hejduk is the reliable veteran on the squad and remains very productive, though he is coming off a season in which he was limited to 56 games thanks mostly to knee troubles. Hejduk has topped 20 goals for ten straight seasons, so there is something to be said for that consistency.

Though T.J. Galiardi isn't a high-end scorer -- still searching for his first 20-goal season, even going back to junior -- he proved to be a valuable two-way player, scoring 19 points in his final 26 games last year, while playing 20 minutes a night. In deep leagues, there are definitely worse options.

After uneven production in college, Brandon Yip surprised with 11 goals in his first 22 games before getting hurt and finishing goalless in his last ten games of the regular season. As such, he's really a sleeper candidate, just in the hopes that his early scoring touch wasn't a complete fluke.

On the blueline, John-Michael Liles is the one proven point producer in the bunch. An offensive defenceman, Liles goes through stretches in which he's in the doghouse because of defensive shortcomings, but he's also produced at least 20 power play points in each of the last five NHL seasons.

Though Kyle Quincey handled a heavy workload on the point for the Avalanche last year, playing more than 23 minutes a night, his point total dropped from 38 in 2008-2009 to 29 last year. He has potential and opportunity to be a fantasy performer, but he's likely only a consideration for those in deep leagues.

Goaltender Craig Anderson responded to the first starting gig of his career by playing in 71 games, winning 38, and then putting on a bit of a show against San Jose in the playoffs before Colorado was ultimately overmatched.

Anderson has to be considered a viable fantasy starter because he's going to play a lot and he's shown that he can do so effectively but, having done so for one year, he's still riskier than the more established elite starters in the league.

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