The Colorado Avalanche are heading into the 2013-14 season with higher expectations, at least within the organization. Having not addressed a dumpster fire of a blue line, and with a major question mark in goal, in Semyon Varlamov, whether or not the Avs will even be in a position to contend for a seven or eight seed in the playoffs remains to be seen.
Despite their failure to address one of the major weaknesses of their club, the Avalanche do boast the type of offensive firepower, at least on paper, that could allow them to make some noise in 2013-14. Whether or not that will mean any sort of success rests in the hands of Gabriel Landeskog.
Landeskog is coming off of a simply terrible year, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. After flashing star potential in his rookie year, a season in which he took home the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, Landeskog’s 2013 season was plagued by injury, and he was never really able to gain traction, finishing the season with only 17 points in 36 games.
If the Avalanche are going to turn things around, they’ll need Landeskog to become the superstar that they were hoping he was becoming after the 2011-12 season. They named him captain, and with that title he becomes the face of the franchise. They see him as a player that can take over on any given night. He’ll need to do it this year.
He has the skill set to do it. He’s a supremely talented offensive player. He’s tough to move off the puck and plays a physical style of game. He plays well at both ends of the ice. He’ll be playing on the second line with a couple of guys who know how to set up a winger, meaning his stats should jump back past where they were in his rookie season.
Signs point to a rebound for Gabriel Landeskog, and then some. He’s healthy and the team around him (at least up front) is better. If he can be that player that can take over at any given time on any given night, this Avalanche team will be better off. He’s capable of it, we just have to see it.