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Avalanche Approaches 2021-22 Campaign with Clear Goal

Colorado aims to use lessons learned in past seasons

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Colorado Avalanche executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic held his annual pre-season media availability on Tuesday morning at Ball Arena with a clear expectation for this year.

"Our goal is to try and win a Stanley Cup. We're one of the favorites and that's a good position to be in. It doesn't guarantee you anything, but to be picked as one of the favorites going into the season it means that you're doing a pretty good job with your roster," said Sakic. "They look at our players, we have some incredible players, talented players, exciting players. The way we play the game, I think fans love coming and watching us play. But the ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup and we're going to try and do that. Being a favorite is a great place to be going into the season."

The Avalanche finished the 2020-21 season with a 39-13-4 record (82 points), winning the West Division and Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the league and finishing with its highest points percentage in franchise history (.732), breaking the previous mark of .720 set in 2000-01.

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Avalanche Depth Ready for a New Season

Colorado's offseason acquisitions and the organization's prospects preparing for 2021-22 campaign

by Tanner Fricke / ColoradoAvalanche.com

After a unique 2020-21 NHL season, the Colorado Avalanche is days away from the start of yet another. The 2021 offseason was filled with new contracts and draft picks, leaving Colorado with new faces on its roster, which means positions to be filled and development to occur.

Since the start of training camp, the players new to the organization have intertwined themselves with the core players on the team and are giving a look at the depth on the Avalanche roster. Up front Colorado added forwards Darren Helm and Mikhail Maltsev.

Helm has played 744 career NHL games and put up eight points (three goals, five assists) in 47 games in 2020-21 with the Detroit Red Wings while Maltsev played 33 games with the New Jersey Devils last season, tallying nine points (six goals, three assists).

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Avs Open Training Camp with Opportunities for Depth Players

Colorado begins camp on Thursday with 56 players on its roster

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche front office had a busy offseason and with the first official practices of the 2021-22 campaign set for Thursday, the team will come together for the first time at training camp.

The Avs were able to keep most of their core intact ahead of the new season, re-signing captain Gabriel Landeskog and young defenseman Cale Makar to long-term deals as well as adding some depth pieces through trades and free agency.

The team acquired goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes, d-man Kurtis MacDermid from the Seattle Kraken and forward Mikhail Maltsev from the New Jersey Devils and signed veterans Darren Helm and Ryan Murray to further its depth chart.

With the salary cap staying the same as it was for the past two seasons, Colorado will also look to its up-and-coming players on entry-level deals such as 2019 first-round draft selections Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook to push for roster spots.

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Justus Annunen Adapting to North American Ice

Netminder finished the 2020-21 season with the Eagles

by JJ Zykan / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Justus Annunen has spent the past two seasons playing with Karpat in Finland's top professional league (Liiga) and he is now transitioning to the North American game and preparing for his first year with the Colorado Avalanche organization.

After wrapping up the Avs' 2021 development camp, Annunen played in the first game of the 2021 Arizona Rookie Faceoff against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday. The matchup between Colorado and Los Angeles resulted in a loss, though Annunen stopped 43-of-47 shots.

"I think he is a great goalie. He's been around, I got to meet him last year and see him in the 'A' a bit last year," forward Alex Newhook said of Annunen. "I think he is a great goalie. I think we hung him out to dry a little bit tonight, but he's got great potential, I think he is a great guy to have in our system and he's going to be great down the road."

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Darcy Kuemper Embracing Avalanche Opportunity

Veteran goaltender excited to his new team

by Ron Knabenbauer / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Darcy Kuemper knows the expectations for the Colorado Avalanche ahead of the 2021-22 season. It's finishing the year with the Stanley Cup in tow, and he fully embraces the team's high standard it has set for itself.

"I'm just so excited to get the opportunity to be a part of something like that," said Kuemper of the Avs' journey to their ultimate goal. "Obviously the roster and the expectations are great. Those are the opportunities you dream of. To get the chance to step in and join that is unbelievable."

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Avalanche Keeps Core Together In Flat Cap World

Colorado adds dependable depth players in first week of free agency

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

It is almost impossible for a team to maintain the same roster from one season to the next in the NHL. The Colorado Avalanche anticipated a few changes for the upcoming 2021-22 season, but the focus for the club is to keep most of its core intact.

The Avs were able to sign captain Gabriel Landeskog and young defenseman Cale Makar to long-term deals before the 2021 free agency window opened on Wednesday, and the organization also acquired a few new faces via signings and the trade market.

With the salary cap staying the same as it was for the past two seasons, most teams in the league are having to make tough decisions on which of their players they can retain. Colorado emphasized preserving its core group and will rely on its up-and-coming players such as 2019 first-round draft selections Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook, who are both on entry-level deals.

"We knew last year was going to be the deepest team we had going forward, especially knowing that the cap was going to be flat and we had some high-end guys that needed new contracts," said executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic. "Obviously Bowen is going to be healthy, and we expect him to have a big role for us, and we believe he is going to be ready for that."

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Landeskog's "Heart Is In Colorado"

The Avalanche and the team captain both wanted each other

by Ron Knabenbauer / ColoradoAvalanche.com

In the end, there were no other sweater colors that Gabriel Landeskog wanted to wear other than the burgundy and blue of the Colorado Avalanche.

Landeskog was on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any of the other 31 NHL teams on Wednesday, but he didn't get that far as he inked an eight-year contract through the 2028-29 campaign with the Avalanche on Tuesday night.

"At the end of the day, for me, I was sure what I wanted. My heart is in Colorado, Denver is my home. That's where we put down our roots and that's where I've always wanted to be," said Landeskog the following morning after inking his long-term deal. "So coming down to it, I was very certain about where I wanted to be and my heart was nowhere else. There is no place I would rather be than in Denver and playing for the Avs, so I am very happy that we got it done."

The feeling was mutual.

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Sakic: Previewing Free Agency and Draft Weekend Recap

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic discusses the team's approach

by ColoradoAvalanche.com @Avalanche / Official website of the Avs

One of busiest weeks of the offseason in the NHL and for the Colorado Avalanche continues.

Following the Seattle Kraken's expansion draft last Wednesday and the entry draft this past weekend, the Avs and executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic turn their attention to free agency, which begins on Wednesday.

Colorado has several of its own restricted and unrestricted free agents it is looking to sign, as well as adding to the club's overall roster for the upcoming 2021-22 campaign. Sakic and company already took care of some of their business this past Saturday, signing defenseman and RFA Cale Makar to a six-year contract.

Sakic spoke recently to the media about inking Makar to a long-term deal, the team's 2021 draft class and the team's approach to this week. Below is a transcript of that conversation.

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Development Focus For Avs' 2021 Draft Class

Three of the picks are heading to college, while another is playing in Sweden

by Ron Knabenbauer / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche appears to have played the long game with its selections in the 2021 NHL Draft.

In a year like no other where games were far less than normal for draft-eligible players and live viewings of the prospects for scouts were even more limited due to COVID-19, allowing a little extra time for seasoning might not be the worst thing for the newest crop of NHL talent.

The Avalanche had four picks, one each in the first three round and another in the seventh (fifth to last), and chose three players that are committed to playing in college and another that is skating in Sweden and has options for his development. The four draft choices were the fewest the franchise has ever made in the entry draft.

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Avalanche, Makar Show Belief in Future with New Deal

The defenseman signed a six-year contract with Colorado on Saturday

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Before the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft began, the Colorado Avalanche secured a different piece of its future.

Defenseman Cale Makar signed a six-year deal with the club on Saturday morning, making him a member of the Avs through the 2026-27 season.

The 22-year-old was a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team this past campaign, one year after becoming the first defenseman in franchise history to win the Calder Memorial as the league's most outstanding rookie.

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