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Sakic 2019 Post-Season Press Conference Transcript

Avalanche executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic discussed the 2018-19 season and a busy summer

by Colorado Avalanche / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Joe Sakic End of Season Presser

Avs GM Joe Sakic on the 2018-19 season

Avalanche Exec. VP/General Manager Joe Sakic discusses the 2018-19 campaign and looks ahead to the draft, free agency and next season

  • 13:05 •

The Colorado Avalanche finished the regular season with 38-30-14 record and made the postseason for a second straight year before losing in Game 7 of the second round against the San Jose Sharks.

Executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic spoke to the Denver media on Tuesday about the season and previewed the upcoming draft and free agency period.

Here is the transcript of the news conference.

On his thoughts on the season: "The finish was great. Unfortunately, we lost Game 7, but it was a hell of a series. Two good teams, lot of momentum shifts but someone had to lose that series, and unfortunately, it was us. But it was a great series, I think our guys learned a lot in that series, learned how to play against a team like that. So, a lot of positives to take from this year. We had a great start, we dipped there in the middle part of the year and then the guys, no-quit, and I'm really proud of the guys and the belief that they had in each other, the compete, learning how to win those games down the stretch. I thought even with a lead, protecting a lead properly, we never were set back. Just a lot of good things from this group this year."

On meeting expectations this season: "Once we got into the playoffs, and the way we played, guys want to win the Stanley Cup. The end goal is to be a champ and win a Stanley Cup. The process from the group, there was a lot of growth, especially in the playoffs. I was really happy with our mindset, the attitude, got into playoffs which is great. The whole mindset was to win and focus on that. It's a good quality to have from your group."

On the team taking the next step: "Just got to keep building and getting better. As great as the end of the year was, we still didn't accomplish the end goal. We still got to find a way to get better and it starts here in the offseason. We took a little break here. Meet with the coaching staff here, go over our players and just got to go to work and get ready for the draft and free agency. Look at different options to get better."

On having many expiring contracts: "Yeah, we do, but that's okay. A lot of groups have guys to sign, so we're probably going to start talking with agents next week. First things first, meet with the coaching staff, go over our team and build our plan for what we want to try and do. So, I'm not too concerned about signing all those guys. We'll get them done."

On extending head coach Jared Bednar's contact: "We'll get to that at the appropriate time."

On the team having a Stanley Cup-winning mindset: "The most important thing is to get into the playoffs. Any team, everybody wants to win. You got to get into the playoffs. You play 82 games. It's competitive, a lot of parity in this league, especially our division. You want to get better, playoffs is the priority, and when you get in it's what you do in the playoffs. We witnessed it this year. A lot of things can happen, good and bad. It's a process to try and make your team better, and in the regular season try and get home-ice advantage. That's a step."

On getting better this summer: "Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup. That's the end game. We want to be better next year. We want to be more consistent during the regular season, and when you get to the playoffs you got to be healthy and playing your best. For us, the focus right now is to try and get better in the offseason and have a more consistent regular season. A big thing that our group knows we have to do better at is once we get to overtime. If you look at the playoff teams, we had 14 overtime losses, and with the exception of another team everyone else was at six or seven. I think focus there, it could have made life a lot easier for us down the stretch if we did a better job in that area for the better part of four months."

On head coach Jared Bednar: "He's a calm coach. He's a players' coach, but the players know his expectations. There's a good respect and good relationship the way he handles the players and the way the players respond to him."

On the draft: "We're going to listen to all options. We're comfortable at four, we know we're going to get a good player. We know we're going to get a good player at 16. We have five picks in the first three rounds this year. We got to do our best to hit on those because you don't always have that opportunity to have that many picks in the first three rounds."

On drafting at No. 4: "We've got our list. We could go either way (with a forward or defenseman) to be honest with you. We know who is going one and two, we'll see who Chicago takes at three. We had our amateurs here last week to finalize our list, and we still have to meet one more time before the draft to just make sure. We know we're going to get a good player."

On a new contract for Mikko Rantanen: "It's a priority to get him done. We prefer long term, but if it has to be short term than it has to be short term. We want to make sure that we have him signed. Don't ask me about the time frame, there are a lot of players in the same situation, a lot of great hockey players that are all coming up. We'll just see how all the players and agents handle it."

On Semyon Varlamov: "I met with Varly so we'll see what happens July 1 with him. He's going to be UFA, and we'll be in communication."

On Nathan MacKinnon's injury: "He'll be fine. He's getting better every day. He'll be fine in a couple weeks."

On if MacKinnon's injury requires surgery: "No, just rest."

On the draft lottery: "It's a lottery. We had the best odds, so it is what it is. We ended up with four, we're pretty excited. You're doing your list and you know you're going to get a good player. Maybe not a player that's going to start next year, but they're 17, 18-year-old kids. To get a good player, if you got to wait a couple years, it's fine. They're going to help you down the line."

On free agency: "It's a pretty good class this year. We already have targeted players in mind if they become available that we're going to want to talk to about joining our club. We see positions we need for what we're looking to do. There are a few guys that we want to talk to if they become available. We'll be more aggressive this year with that, but keep in mind if it doesn't work out for the players that we want to talk to, we're not just going to spend on anybody. We want the right players and the right fit."

On the importance of this offseason: "We just finished the season last week, so we took some time off. We know it's going to be a busy offseason, but this is why we're here. We're excited about this offseason. There are a lot of things that we can do to improve this club and make us a stronger team for next year. You saw the growth the last couple years here, and we want to keep growing like that. You see the Pepsi Center and the playoff atmosphere, the atmosphere all year. I think there is a lot of excitement about this team, and we got to keep building and try and get it to the next level."

On the offseason as a first-year GM versus now: "I think every year you learn more and more from previous seasons. Right now, we don't even think like that. Right now, we're excited to be in this position, what we can do to try and help this club."

On Cale Makar's impact: "I'm not surprised at all. I saw the growth he made from year one to year two at UMass. Coming in, the way he skates, the way he handles the puck, his vision, sometimes I feel like at this level--because he's playing with and against better players with a little more structure--he would have a little more time. He made the most of it, so he's going to be an incredible player."

On the upcoming Seattle expansion draft: "It's two years away. There's a lot of things that's probably going to change with every team. We know we're going to lose a good player, every team's going to lose a good player. When a team spends $650 million to get a team--they have the rules for the teams' protected list, you're going to lose a good player. That's part of the business."

On Tyson Barrie: "He's an incredible player. He was a driving force down our stretch and with what we saw with him, Cale and Girard, I would be very, very comfortable starting the year with that group. I think that they can do a lot of special things together. Right now, where we are right now, that's all I can tell you. I love Tyson, love the way he's played. When we get to that point, we'll probably have conversations."

On Conor Timmins' health: "He was practicing a good, solid amount and getting a lot better. He's in a good situation, come back to camp 100 percent after a great summer of training. I think that was the one thing, he wasn't able to train the way he needed to train to get ready and we saw a lot of growth in that area, a lot of positive improvement. He doesn't have restrictions now when it comes to training. I'm hoping that he's 100 percent for training camp. He's starting from scratch like everybody elsem, and we've got high hopes for him."

On the team progressing how he would like: "We tried to go the youth movement, trying to get younger and faster, and we believe that we accomplished that. There has been a lot of growth with our players in our dressing room, and now we got to try to find a way to keep making steps and keep getting better and keep the excitement going here in this marketplace."

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