Defense wins championships and that is what Patrick Roy returned to Denver to accomplish. Despite his team taking a step back in his sophomore season behind an NHL bench, Roy is confident the lessons learned will only help the team going forward. In addition to his role as head coach, Roy holds a second title as Vice President of Hockey Operations, giving him a voice in all player personnel decisions. The new philosophy as to how the team will be constructed both now and in the future is trending towards an emphasis on size, character, and skills. Roy has also shown he is open to drafting and signing free agents from Europe’s top leagues, something that occurred less frequently in the years prior to his return.
As is the tradition, Hockey’s Future hands out some hardware to the Colorado Avalanche prospects who made an impression this season for better, or in some cases, for worse. Although it was a struggle of a season for the NHL club, several younger players in various developmental leagues stood out as hopeful signs of incoming help.
With the exception of Will Butcher, it still remains to be seen just where the Avalanche’s NCAA and European prospects fit into the team’s long-term plans.
Butcher is a big part of the University of Denver Pioneers blueline and has had international success with Team USA in junior tournaments. Ben Storm, however, has not seen much more than bottom pairing minutes with his respective NCAA team. Both get the chance to participate in the NCAA Tournament however.
Two key Colorado Avalanche players did not stay prospects for long as both surpassed the 65-NHL-game mark in 2013-14. 18-year-old forward Nathan MacKinnon entered the league under the bright spotlights of being the 2013 NHL Draft’s first overall pick and did not disappoint. He ended the season as the Calder Trophy favorite and was unanimously voted as the trophy winner. Tyson Barrie also had a statement season when he cemented himself as a key figure on the Avalanche blue line, contributing offense in even-strength situations as well as on the power play.