The Colorado Avalanche’s top five prospects are as good as any other team’s in the league but after fifth-ranked Nicolas Meloche the level of talent begins to wane and big question marks appear. The front office targeted defense as a weakness a few years ago, putting emphasis on improving that area at the expense of the forward group. The lack of success in the mid- to late-rounds has not helped the team’s situation.
The San Antonio Rampage did not lose in regulation until November 7th against their rival, the Texas Stars. The month-long hot streak included six regulation wins and four overtime losses. They continued to rack up wins and stay atop the Pacific Division until December when they proceeded to lose seven in a row and a staggering 15 losses in 20 games. Colorado Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic has emphasized the need to establish a winning culture in their minor league system but knows such changes cannot be accomplished overnight.
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.
The Avalanche prospect pool isn’t exactly ripe with players ready to make the jump to the NHL. However, there are a few underrated prospects who could blossom into future stars for the team if their development continues on the same track.