Colorado Avalanche season preview

Updated: October 3, 2005, 12:12 PM ET
ESPN.com

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Avalanche used to be great, but now they're just another team. In a lot of ways, it's about time.

Offense: OK, Peter (The Great) Forsberg is gone, but the Avs still have Joe Sakic, and he often plays better when Forsberg isn't in the lineup anyway. After that, there are some good, young players coming into their own as leaders in Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay, but when the aging Pierre Turgeon is your No. 2 center, well, Forsberg he isn't, and it gets worse after that.

Defense: The unit used to be loaded, but now Rob Blake is the only star and he's been battered a bit in recent years. Lose him, and it's Joey and the Pluggers.

Goaltending: Patrick Roy is long gone, but David Aebischer has convinced no one that he is the second coming of St. Patrick. He's good and should get better, but Roy was the glue during the glory years and Aebischer isn't anywhere near that level yet.



WHERE THEY'LL FINISH
9th YES … Because there is still some talent that knows how to win and there is a pride factor there.
BUT … Could they finally miss the playoffs? Yes. Losing great players is often the crutch a team on the decline looks for. If that mindset sets in, it could be a hard fall.

PLAYER TO WATCH
John-Michael Liles will be the young defenseman expected to quarterback the power play behind Blake. He was on the all-rookie team last time out, but it's a big step up.

HEY, COACH!
Joel Quenneville surfaced here and that's a plus. Players play for him and he is a very good tactician. Keep an eye out for friction between him and Tony Granato, the fired coach who is now his assistant.



FACEOFFS
BEST OFFSEASON MOVE --> COME WHAT MAY
Picking up Brad May from Vancouver. He might not be the muscle player he once was, but it took a lot of media pressure off the "name players" as May was involved in the Todd Bertuzzi debacle that injured Steve Moore.

WORST OFFSEASON MOVE --> NO MO' MONEY
The Avs got hammered by the salary cap. It cost both Forsberg and star defenseman Adam Foote.

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Comings & Goings
Key Acquisitions:
C Pierre Turgeon; D Patrice Brisebois; LW Brad May; LW Andrew Brunette; RW Paul Healey; D Curtis Leschyshyn.

Key Departures:
C Peter Forsberg; D Adam Foote; RW Teemu Selanne; C Chris Gratton; LW Paul Kariya; LW Travis Brigley; G Philippe Sauve.

When we last saw them …
Joe Sakic, C
The Avs captain led the way with 33 goals and 54 assists in the 2003-04 season, tied for second overall in points.
David Aebischer, G
Aebischer split duties with Tommy Salo, but led with a 32-19-9 record and a .924 save percentage.
Quoteables
We need someone like May.
An Avs season-ticket holder on the acquisition of Brad May.