2017-2018 Overview:

The Colorado Avalanche (43-30-9) made the playoffs last year by one game. After defeating the St. Louis Blues 5-2, they traveled to Nashville for the first round of the playoffs. Forcing the Predators to six games, their season ended after a 5-0 loss on home ice. Colorado is crowned with high expectations entering 2018-19.

Off-season Moves:

Busy this off-season, the Avalanche dropped familiar players, including two playoff goalies: Jonathon Bernier and Andrew Hammond.

Additions: Ian Cole– D (Columbus Blue Jackets) ; Matt Calvert– F (Columbus Blue Jackets); Philip Grubauer– G (Washington Capitals)

Subtractions: Blake Comeau– F (Dallas Stars); Jonathan Bernier– G (Detroit Red Wings); Andrew Hammond– G (Minnesota Wild); Joe Colborne– F (free agency); Trent Vogelhuber– F (free agency)

Returning Stars:

Matt Nieto and Gabriel Bourque re-signed this off-season. Nieto, 25, played his best hockey last year, scoring 15 goals; he netted a hat-trick against the Dallas Stars as well.

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Breakout Bets:

Samuel Girard– D enters his second season in the NHL as a solidified starter. Traded during the season to the Avalanche, Girard, 20, finished the year with 23 points. Expect him to become a crucial part of the defensive core for Colorado.

What to Expect:

The Colorado Avalanche sincerely shocked the NHL after making it to the playoffs. Players like Nathan MacKinnon and Miikko Rantanen should repeat their dominance from last year, but the Avalanche have two main concerns: goalies and confirming last season was not a fluke.

The goaltender battle between Semyon Varlamov and Philip Grubauer is an interesting one. Both known as back-ups, the starter will have to be determined in fall camp. The key for both Varlamov and Grubauer is sustainability and creating a presence in net. Entering an NHL season without a number one goalie is Colorado’s question mark. Either Varlamov or Grubauer or someone else need to provide a quick answer.

Entering last season, the Avalanche had not played a playoff game in three years. At the end of last season, Colorado jumped into the playoffs unexpectedly after scoring 47 more points and winning 22 more games than the season before. In 2018-19, the goal is to play for the Cup again.

Coming Saturday Morning: St. Louis Blues Preview
Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for Fullpresscoverage.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter @jack_woods15.

Cover Photo Credit: USA Today
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