With a Tampa Bay overtime loss tonight, the Avalanche fell to 29th overall in the NHL with only 8 games left in the regular season. Who'd have thought that this team would go from being one of the final 8 teams in the 2008 playoffs to being the second worst team in the NHL in only one season?
Something similar happened to the Flyers a few seasons ago. All the players that made them a powerhouse over the last decade had moved on (Recchi, LeClair) or retired (Primeau, Desjardins), and they fell apart. But after a few key trades, a big free agent signing, and prospects coming into their own, the Flyers went from last one year to the Eastern Conference Finals the next.
Welcome to the salary cap era, ladies and gentlemen. So, if you think the Avs can't follow up this season with a good one...well, you're right. The reason the Flyers were able to do so is Jeff Carter and Mike Richards came into their own. The Briere signing has turned out to be a step backwards, and the Flyers are likely stuck with him (unless he stay's healthy and productive next season).
Also, they were able to make four huge trades:
- A 2nd round pick for Marty Biron
- Forsberg for Upshall, Parent, NSH 1st and 3rd round picks.
- Nashville's 1st round pick back to Nashville for Hartnell and Timonen.
- Pitkanen and Sanderson for Lupul and Smith.
The moves are just brilliant. It's mind boggling to me how Paul Holmgren, only months into his tenure as Flyers GM, pulled off four trades that improved the team greatly. And they haven't even seen what James Van Riemsdyk, who they took with the 2nd overall pick of the 2007 draft, can do. They're going to be good for years to come.
That said, Francois Giguere, or whoever the Avalanche GM is, will not be able to do that. This team has a ton of money invested in mediocre players, such as Tucker (2.25), Clark (3.50), and Salei (3.025). They're stuck with them. Look forward to the 2011 season, people, where the Avs will have plenty of room to make themselves good because only Stastny, Smyth, Liles, and Hannan are signed through that season.