DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Avalanche made a lot of moves quickly during the NHL’s free agency period last week, but did the Avs really better themselves in the process?
Peter McNab, a former NHL player and Avalanche game analyst for Altitude TV network, helped answer that question during his appearance on the CBS4 show Xfinity Monday Live.
With the loss of star and fan favorite Paul Stastny to the St. Louis Blues, the Avs immediately signed proven veteran Jarome Iginla, and then added veteran defenseman Brad Stuart. McNab agreed that it was almost like a trade losing Stastny and then gaining Iginla. He also thinks the Avs got tougher with the addition of Brad Stuart. And even though he’s unproven, backup goalie Reto Berra is a good pickup.
1. Jarome Iginla: “Just look at last season, the Boston Bruins, a tough, big time hockey club; and Jerome Iginla was tied for the lead in goals … I always go back to what Adam Foote told me about Jerome Iginla. He said as far as a tough guy to play against, night in, night out, Jerome Iginla was about the toughest. He has a physical edge to his game,” McNab said. “He doesn’t miss games and he’s extraordinarily tough to move off the puck.”
McNab said with Iginla the dynamics of the Avs has changed. With Stastny gone Nathan MacKinnon will move from the right side to center.
“MacKinnon, I believe, is that next great player that the Avalanche are going to have. So now what you have is (Gabriel) Landeskog on the left side, and you’ve got Iginla on the right side. That’s a tough one-two punch as far as physical presence, because they’re both big, they’re both strong, they’re both Top 6 forwards, legitimately. And that’s the hardest thing to find, a Top 6 forward that can play like Iginla. They’re rare in the National Hockey League.”
2. Brad Stuart: The Avs also addressed the blue line by bringing in defensemen Brad Stuart in a trade with San Jose.
“He is in the Top 5 open ice hitters in the National Hockey League,” McNab said. “And what the Avalanche felt that they really needed was an upgrade in size in the middle of their defensive corps; whether you count the corps one through eight or one through six, they wanted to be bigger, stronger, and just a little bit meaner — and that’s what he plays.
“You’ll watch hits that he will make this year and you’ll want to just turn your head, because he comes at you hard … and so these are the kind of things the Avs felt that through the playoffs, they weren’t maybe quite tough enough in certain situations; and you get Iginla and you get Stuart and you address a little bit of that ‘tough’ part.”
3. Reto Berra: Of course Semyon Varlamov is locked in as the No. 1 goalie, but the Avs acquired Reto Berra via trade with the Calgary Flames in anticipation of the retirement of Jean-Sebastien Giguere to solidify the backup position.
“They signed him to a 2-year deal. I don’t think anyone should judge him on how he played last year. He played two games; he was the No. 3 goaltender. They were both second games of back-to-back games on the road. They weren’t great but the Avalanche goaltending assessment group is very good and I think he’ll be solid,” McNab said.
See more video with Peter McNab in CBSDenver.com’s Xfinity Monday Live section.