Alright going out on a limb here, but bear with me, did you expect Colorado to be 3-1-0, with fifteen goals for and nine goals against, third in the Central division, NOPE. Well, okay it is four games into the year and it’s early but while we are on the topic, why has Colorado been so successful this early?
Reason #1 Impact of Alex Kerfoot
Many of us forget something about this kid, he was drafted in the 5th round by the New Jersey Devils in 2012, did not end up resigning with them and chose the Colorado Avalanche this offseason. After spending four years at Harvard, Kerfoot was a Hobey Baker nominee and captain his last season, Kerfoot was not a major player of discussion this offseason. Let’s not forget though Kerfoot tallied 113 points in four seasons at Harvard and only played 25 games his first year. The most surprising of them all, a fifth-round draft pick, undervalued center chose the Avalanche and is making an immediate impact. Perhaps the reason of not having a lot of pressure on him is Kerfoots reason for choosing Colorado. Kerfoot has been clicking with Duchenne and Yakupov early in the season and if he can keep this up, the Avalanche may not be as bad as we all thought.
Reason #2 Duchene trade chatter quiets
Now we all know the whole Duchene situation, he wants out of Colorado and he made it quite evident towards the end of last year and all summer. Remember that media day picture, of him looking like he wanted to jump off a cliff? Yeah well, everyone in Colorado felt that tension with the whole Duchene situation from the All-Star break all the way to the end of the summer. But Duchene came into camp and said he does not want to discuss trade talks and he is here out of the respect for his teammates. Well, it seems a lot of chatter has seemed to boil down between Joe Sakic and Matt Duchene also, please don’t bring up the Peter Forsberg comment, 100% of what we heard is not correct and it got lost in translation nor will it even make a difference on the outcome of Duchene’s future in Colorado. Anyhow, Duchene and his line have been a top line in the NHL right now and it seems Duchene is putting the past behind him, in five games Duchene has two goals, three assists, and nine shots on goal. If all is well, Duchene and the Av’s can put this trade talk to the side and let Duchene play the Av’s may be better than we all thought.
Reason #3 Resurged Nail Yakupov
Yakupov came flying out of the gates this season and has been a big headline in Colorado and the NHL early this season. After failing miserably in St. Louis, he signed a one-year $875k contract(granted money from St. Louis still) and since coming to Colorado, Yakupov seems to really be enjoying his new linemates. Yakupov has five points in four games, tying his goal total from last year already just four games in. He is also four points away from tying his point total from last season. Why the resurgence from Yakupov though? Well, the same reason for Kerfoot, low market area, not a lot of pressure, the ability to play his game without any crazy expectations could be a reason. We have to remember Yakupov was a 2012 first overall draft pick and has not amounted to much at all, in his five seasons, Yakupov totaled 120 games in 292 NHL games, his best year came in 2014-15 where totaled 33 points in 81 games. For a 1st overall pick in a city like Edmonton that was longing for the next best player, Yakupov failed miserably and the fans of Edmonton let him hear it. Shipping out of Edmonton to St. Louis the same thing happened, so fans around the league have started to expect less and less each year from Yakupov, and while the pressure is off, Yakupov has been phenomenal. If Kerfoot and Yakupov keep it up and Duchene ends up staying in Colorado, settling the tension between Sakic and him, the Av’s may not be that terrible, people.