The Colorado Avalanche have been a high priority threat this season and there are 5 new-comers from this season that they have to thank. Of course, players such as Nate MacKinnon or Mikko Rantanen have been leading as well but these guys are ones that just started fresh on this team and have been killing it lately.
Note: Cale Makar has been on fire but he doesn’t count even though he’s a rookie. These are all guys that have just been signed or traded over.
I’ve mentioned a few times (for example here and here) how happy I am to see this winger fly on the Avs team. Last season in Washington, Andre Burakovsky had 25 points (12G 13A) in 76 games played while averaging 11:08 on the ice per game.
Now, Burakovsky has 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points in 46 games. He’s been averaging 14:54 on the ice per game, a big step up from last season. You can see from his playing that Burakovsky has grown some confidence in Colorado.
Not only have his points increased along with his ice time but you can see an increase in his shot percentage. Through his 5 seasons with Washington, Burakovsky had averaged a 12.8% Shot Percentage but now he’s up to 16.5%. He’s taking more shots and chances because he’s confident on this team.
He is without a doubt going to pass his career-high point total of 38 points, I’d put money on him getting at least 50 points before the post-season.
Nazem Kadri came over to the Avs as a part of the trade that sent Tyson Barrie to Toronto (I’m still not okay) BUT what Kadri has been doing for the Avalanche is amazing. Last season, he had 16 goals and 28 assists (44 points) in 73 games with an average of 16:11 on the ice per game.
Now with the Avalanche, Naz has 31 points (17G 14A) in 46 games so far while averaging 17:40 on the ice per game. Much like Burakovsky, Kadri is also been up on his shot percentage and time on ice.
Kadri’s shot percentage does have a higher jump, going from 8.7% last season to 12.5% as of right now. He’s also playing a big role as a veteran of the league, seeing as he’s on his 11th season. The Avs are a younger team with 18 players at least 25 or younger, meanwhile, Kadri is a bit on the older side at 29.
He fits well into a leadership position, seeing as he’s seen the ups and downs that it came to playing in Toronto. Given his time in the league and undeniable skill, he’s going to be a big part of the Avalanche’s race to the Cup.
Joonas Donskoi came over to Colorado from the San Jose Sharks ready to prove his worth to the team. In his last season with San Jose, the winger had 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in 80 games. Donskoi was playing around 13:25 per game then.
Fast forward to now where he has 29 points (14G 15A) in his first 44 games and averaging 16:52 per game. Much like the other 2, Donskoi has seen a rise in his ice time as well as shot percentage.
Donskoi has been sidelined the last 2 games with a concussion but skated with a full-contact jersey today. The Avalanche don’t have another game until February 1st due to the All-Star game and bye week. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that was his first game back with the team.
Donskoi had a career-high of 37 points last season so I anticipate him passing that in the remaining games of this season.
Transitioning from the hot deserts of Vegas to the mountains of Denver, seemed to come easy to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. In his last season with Vegas, Bellemare had 6 goals and 9 assists (15 points) in 76 games while averaging 12:26 on the ice per game.
Cut to now with the Avalanche, Bellemare has 7 goals and 11 assists (18 points) in just 47 games. He’s also up’d his minutes to about 13:23 on the ice. 18 points is a career-high for the 34-year-old.
Once again, the trend is coming to an increase in shot percentage and time on the ice. He’s up almost a full minute and his shot percentage has gone from 5.6% to 12.7%.
Bellemare has fit in well with Matt Calvert and JT Compher on the 3rd line. He’s got the personality and the skill to keep up with the Avs. The team and fans have taken a liking to him and I can see him sticking around for a long time.
Last but not least is Val Nichushkin.
Last season, Nichushkin had 10 assists in 57 games played with 11:55 average time on the ice. This season, he’s already got 8 goals with 9 assists for 17 points in 44 games played with an average of 13:32 on the ice per game.
Per our trend here, his shooting percentage jumped from 0% last season to 11.1%. I’m counting it. Nichushkin spent last season in Dallas where he didn’t have the warmest welcome back to the NHL. Fans kinda gave up on Val when he struggled to get a goal, and in turn, can you blame Val for saying he started to give up when in Dallas?
I’m happy he’s gotten a new start with the Avs and that things are going well for him. He’s really found a place on the ice with other newcomers Kadri and Burakovsky. We’ve seen it time and time again that a fresh start goes a long way.
That can be said about any of the 5 players I just talked about. All of them have been trending up since joining the Avs. It’s something you really do love to see. TheAvs are now 2nd in the Central with 62 points and a 28-15-6 record. They just finished game 49 of 82 and I can see them going deep into playoffs this year. I’d put my money on them going past the 2nd round and in my heart, I’d even say they could win the Cup.
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Featured Image:AP Photo/Jack Dempsey