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Team Reset

Avalanche add Grubauer in net, Cole to boost defense

Goalie will compete for No. 1 job, help Colorado try to advance in playoffs

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Colorado Avalanche:

The Colorado Avalanche will try to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since they qualified 11 straight times from 1995-2006, including their final season as the Quebec Nordiques.

Colorado added goaltender Philipp Grubauer, defenseman Ian Cole and forward Matt Calvert since being eliminated by the Nashville Predators in six games in the Western Conference First Round.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

The Avalanche (43-30-9) had 95 points last season, a 47-point improvement from 2016-17, to clinch the second wild card from the Western Conference and reach the postseason for the first time since 2013-14.

The goal now under coach Jared Bednar, a Jack Adams Award finalist, is to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Here is what the Avalanche look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Philipp Grubauer, G: The 26-year-old goaltender was acquired in a trade with the Washington Capitals on June 22. Grubauer, who could have become a restricted free agent, signed a three-year contract June 23 and will compete with oft-injured Semyon Varlamov, 30, for the No. 1 job. A backup with the Capitals the past three seasons, Grubauer went 15-10-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and three shutouts in 2017-18. He started the first two games of the playoffs, going 0-1 with a 4.57 GAA and .837 save percentage. … Ian Cole, D: The 29-year-old defenseman signed a three-year contract July 1 as an unrestricted free agent. A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the left-hand shot adds size (6-foot-1, 219 pounds) and experience. Cole had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 67 games last season with the Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. ... Matt Calvert, F: The 28-year-old forward, who spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets, signed a three-year contract July 1 as a UFA. He will bring speed to the third or fourth line and the penalty kill. He had 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 69 games last season and four points (three goals, one assist) in six playoff games.

Video: NHL Tonight analyzes the Capitals/Avalanche trade

 

Key departures

Jonathan Bernier, G: He signed a three-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1. Bernier went 19-13-3 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in his only season with the Avalanche. … Blake Comeau, F: He signed a three-year, $7.2 million contract with the Dallas Stars on July 1. Comeau scored 33 goals and was an effective penalty-killer in three seasons in Colorado. … Nail Yakupov, F: The No. 1 pick of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Yakupov signed a one-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League on July 3. He scored seven of his nine goals in the first 20 games last season, was a healthy scratch 18 of the final 26 regular-season games, and didn't play in the postseason.

 

On the cusp

Conor Timmins, D: The 19-year-old defenseman was selected by Colorado in the second round (No. 32) in the 2017 NHL Draft, and his health and play in training camp will determine if he starts the season with the Avalanche or their new American Hockey League affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. Timmins had 41 points (eight goals, 33 assists) in 36 games for Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League last season and 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 23 playoff games. He sustained a concussion in the playoffs and was held out of on-ice drills at Avalanche development camp in June. … A.J. Greer, F: Although injuries have hampered Greer's development, the 21-year-old had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 35 games with San Antonio of the AHL last season. Selected by Colorado in the second round (No. 39) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Greer also had three assists in 17 games with the Avalanche and brought an edge to the lineup. … Vladislav Kamenev, F: The 21-year-old forward was acquired in a trade from the Predators on Nov. 5, but he missed 50 games after breaking his arm Nov. 16 against the Washington Capitals in his Avalanche debut. Kamenev had 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 17 AHL games with Milwaukee and San Antonio but didn't have a point in three games with Colorado.

 

What they still need

A center who can win face-offs. Colorado finished last in the NHL in 2017-18 in face-off winning percent (44.2), and left wing Gabriel Landeskog was the only current Avalanche player with at least 200 face-offs to win more than he lost (215-203; 51.4 percent). Carl Soderberg was first among centers (45.3 percent).

 

Fantasy focus 

Varlamov had another injury-plagued season with the Avalanche, leading them to acquire Grubauer from the Capitals. The move suggests fantasy owners have reason to be concerned about the status of Varlamov being a No. 1 goaltender this season. Varlamov's .920 save percentage was his best since 2014-15, but the knee injury he sustained March 30 against the Chicago Blackhawks gives reason to be cautious about drafting the goaltender on his own in fantasy. Instead, it's safer for fantasy owners to handcuff Grubauer to Varlamov in season-long leagues. It's worth noting the Avalanche have 11 back-to-backs, tied for second fewest in the NHL, meaning Grubauer or Varlamov should emerge as the clear-cut starter. Grubauer took the No. 1 job from 2016 Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby in Washington at the end of the 2017-18 regular season and could do it again in Colorado. -- Rob Reese

Video: CHI@COL: Varlamov denies Seabrook's point-blank shot

 

Projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Sven Andrighetto -- Tyson Jost -- Alexander Kerfoot

Matt Calvert -- Carl Soderberg -- Matt Nieto

Gabriel Bourque -- J.T. Compher -- Colin Wilson

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyson Barrie

Ian Cole -- Mark Barberio

Semyon Varlamov

Philipp Grubauer

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