NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Colorado Avalanche.
Changes were expected after the Colorado Avalanche finished ninth in the Western Conference and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season, but the resignation of coach Patrick Roy on Thursday surely wasn't one of them.
Roy, who spent three seasons as Avalanche coach and vice president of hockey operations, informed vice president and general manager Joe Sakic of his decision.
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"I have thought long and hard over the course of the summer about how I might improve this team to give it the depth it needs and bring it to a higher level," Roy said in a statement. "To achieve this, the vision of the coach and VP-Hockey Operations needs to be perfectly aligned with that of the organization. He must also have a say in the decisions that impact the team's performance. These conditions are not currently met."
Roy, 50, said the decision saddened him, but that he was "fully comfortable" with it and remains on good terms with the Avalanche.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006, Roy, and Sakic, helped Colorado win the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001. Roy was 130-92-24 in three seasons as coach of the Avalanche. He won the Jack Adams Award as the League's top coach in 2013-14 after Colorado went 52-22-8 with 112 points to finish first in the Central Division. That season, the Avalanche were eliminated by the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round in seven games.
Colorado would miss the playoffs the next two seasons, falling to 39-31-12 (90 points) in 2014-15 and 39-39-4 (82 points) last season.
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Roy was hired by Sakic on May 23, 2013.
"We will begin the search for a new head coach immediately," Sakic said.
The Avalanche continue to maintain a strong belief in their core group of centers Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, left wing Gabriel Landeskog, defensemen Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson, and goalie Semyon Varlamov. Colorado's ability to earn a playoff berth will depend largely on that group's level of play.
Two of them were restricted free agents who signed new contracts: MacKinnon (seven years, $44.1 million) and Barrie (four years, $22 million). Colorado also signed restricted free agent goalie Calvin Pickard (two years, $2 million) and forward Mikhail Grigorenko (one year, $1.3 million).
MacKinnon, who won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year for 2013-14, had 21 goals and 31 assists (52 points) in 72 games last season, when he missed the last 10 games with a knee injury.
Barrie had 13 goals and 36 assists (49 points) in 78 games, Grigorenko had six goals and 21 assists (27 points) in 74 games. Pickard was 7-6-1 with his first NHL shutout, a 2.56 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
Duchene scored 30 goals to become the first Colorado player to do so since Sakic (36) and Milan Hejduk (35) in 2006-07, but Landeskog's production (20 goals, 53 points in 75 games) has fallen in each of the past three seasons, Johnson's minus-19 rating was the worst of his NHL career, and Varlamov (27-25-3, 2.81 GAA, .914 save percentage) has yet to play up to his Vezina Trophy-finalist level of 2013-14.
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The Avalanche were relatively quiet on the free agent market, signing center Joe Colborne and defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Wiercioch on July 1. They weren't able to keep forwards Mikkel Boedker and Shawn Matthias, who left for the San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets.
Colborne, a 6-foot-5, 221-pound 26-year-old, signed a two-year, $5 million contract after he had NHL career highs for goals (19) and assists (25) in 73 games with the Calgary Flames. Colborne could be moved to either wing because the Avalanche are deep at center with Duchene, MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg.
Tyutin, 6-2, 221, signed a one-year, $2 million contract after he was bought out by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The hope is the 33-year-old, who had one goal and two assists in 61 games, can help steady a weak defense and help Francois Beauchemin, 36, in mentoring Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov, each 21.
Wiercioch (25, 6-5, 202) signed a one-year, $800,000 contract. He had five assists in 52 games with the Ottawa Senators, missing 18 games because of injuries. Wiercioch and Colborne were University of Denver teammates from 2008-10.
Pickard's solid play made goalie Reto Berra expendable, and he was traded to the Florida Panthers for center Rocco Grimaldi on June 23.
Defenseman Nick Holden was traded to the New York Rangers on June 25 for a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and the Avalanche bought out the final year of defenseman Brad Stuart's two-year, $7.2 million contract to create more minutes for Bigras and Zadorov.
Right wing Mikko Rantanen, 19, the No. 10 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and the 6-5, 220-pound Zadorov are expected to make the team out of training camp. Left wing JT Compher, 21, a Hobey Baker Award finalist at Michigan, will get a serious look. This could be defenseman Duncan Siemens' last opportunity to make an impression; injuries have slowed the 22-year-old's progress since he was selected with the No. 11 pick in 2011.