The fantasy season is upon us. Another year of tears of joy and heartbreak.
To help you along, here’s your fantasy outlook for the Colorado Avalanche.
2022-23 Fantasy Outlook: Colorado Avalanche
Last season: 56-19-7, 1st Central, 2nd overall. GF: 4th, GA: 9th, PP: 7th, PK: 15th.
BetMGM had pegged the Avs as the favorites to win the Cup from the very beginning and they were right. Despite a poor playoff showing the season before and a shaky start, the Avs never strayed far from their destiny, winning the first Stanley Cup since 2001. They were dominant in so many facets of the game, but their hallmark was their up-tempo aggressive style that put their opponents on their heels, especially with Cale Makar on the back end. Their quality depth at all positions, particularly after a deadline deal to acquire Artturi Lehkonen, put them over the top and did not require them to have a lights-out goalie.
Best fantasy option: Cale Makar, D
Makar was the pick last season and he’s the pick once again this year, and probably for many years to come. It comes to one main reason: position scarcity. Roman Josi stuffed the score sheet last season, but it’s Makar, who is eight years younger and far better than Josi at the same age, who has seemingly infinite upside. He scores at a better pace than many first-line forwards with THN’s Pool Guide projecting him to score 90 points. He’s easily a first-round draft choice in any standard fantasy league.
Hidden gem: Bowen Byram, D
The drawback with Byram is that Makar is well ahead of the depth chart and in some cases may end up quarterbacking the entire two-minute power play. Otherwise, Byram is an excellent offensive defenseman in his own right. His free-flowing style meshes with the Avs and he scored at a 46-point pace despite being limited to 30 games during the season. His possession numbers have been excellent with a career 54.4 5v5 CF%, per naturalstattrick.com, and his Individual Point Percentage of 46.43 percent – meaning that every time the Avs scored a goal while Byram was on the ice, there was a 46.43 percent chance he earned a point – actually isn’t far off from Makar’s 49.43 percent. Anything close to 50 percent would rank among the league’s elite, and for Byram it’s just a matter of getting enough playing time. A secondary option if Byram isn’t “hidden” enough? Sophomore Alex Newhook, who could be the No. 2 center replacing Nazem Kadri.
If the Avs have one glaring weakness, this is it. At least with Darcy Kuemper, the big question was health, not ability. Now they face a question of ability between Alexandar Georgiev, who is coming off his worst season yet and could never win the Rangers’ starting job, and Pavel Francouz, a talented but older goalie with only 70 games of NHL experience under his belt.
Yes, Georgiev looked pretty good as the starter when he got regular reps, and yes, Francouz was unbeaten in their Cup run, but both goalies are similarly untested and there’s no telling who will be the starter just yet. At first glance, it looks like a timeshare, which is the biggest headache for fantasy managers even though the Avs will be a top-tier team and wins will be easy to come by. You’ll have to take a stab at one of them and hope you’re right, or try and nab both of them if they’re available in the later rounds. For risk-averse managers, reaching for either Georgiev or Francouz when more established starters are still on the board might backfire. Analytically, Francouz has the edge with better raw numbers and GSAA, but Georgiev is six years younger and signed for one more year, so the Avs might give him the first crack at the job.
There is no shortage of options on the Avs, who are expected to roll into the playoffs. Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen represent elite scoring options while Gabriel Landeskog is a banger league beast if he can stay healthy. The talent falls off a cliff after that but here’s a ton of quality depth options, including Newhook, Lehkonen, Valeri Nichushkin and Devon Toews.
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