The 2021-22 NHL season is right around the corner, and fantasy hockey leagues everywhere will be drafting NHLers to get a shot at winning against their friends or coworkers. With the Colorado Avalanche being one of the best teams in the league, there is obviously a lot of appeal with the roster fantasy-wise. Forwards, defencemen, goalies–the Avalanche have it all. I will look at goals, assists, powerplay points, shots on goal, hits, and blocks for skaters. Wins, save percentage (Sv%), and shutouts will be looked at for goaltenders.
- Nathan MacKinnon
After putting up 65 points in just 48 games last season (a 111-point pace), ESPN has the Avalanche superstar putting up just 33 goals 63 assists. This is definitely a lowball, considering he has been above that level in the past four seasons. Although, the site has MacKinnon having 33 power-play points and a whopping 333 shots on goal, which leads the league. His 52 hits and 33 blocks round out his stat projection.
- Mikko Rantanen
Rantanen was a top-five player in many fantasy formats, and for the most part, the best right-winger. Being the goal-scorer, ESPN gives the Finnish phenom a projection of 41 goals and 50 assists, which would also be a downgrade from his 104-point pace from last season. 34 PP points and 233 shots on goal are fair projections, as he is definitely less of a shot-taker than MacKinnon. 36 hits and 31 blocks are also fair.
- Gabriel Landeskog
The Avalanche captain was nearly a point-per-game last season scoring at a 79-point pace, but once again, ESPN has decided to lowball him. His 27-goal, 38-assist projection is almost certain to be shattered this season, as long as he stays on the top line with the two listed above. His 15 power-play point (PPP) projection is considerable, basing it off his past couple of seasons. Being the net-front presence he is, we should expect Landeskog to break through his 206-shot projection. A bonus about Landeskog is his physicality, as he is projected to have 110 hits, along with 44 blocks which is impressive for a forward.
- Andre Burakovsky
Since being traded from the Washington Capitals, Burakovsky has become a top-six forward in Colorado. His 68-point pace last season has gone under the radar by many hockey fans, and it looks like ESPN ignored that too, with 25 goals and 32 assists as his projection. Burakovsky is projected to have 20 powerplay points and 138 shots on goal, which are both solid guesses. Burakovsky is not a very physical player, so his 30 hits and 21 blocks are decent projections. If Rantanen were ever to get hurt, this is the man to have on your fantasy team.
- Nazem Kadri
The Avalanche’s second-line center had a down season in 2020-21 after an excellent first season after his trade from Toronto. ESPN projects Kadri to have 15 goals and 27 assists, implying they think he will regress further. It is once again a lowball but to no surprise. He has a projection of 12 power-play points, as well as a hefty 183 shots on goal. Known for his gritty play, Kadri is also projected to have 86 hits, and 19 blocks. Should MacKinnon ever go down, Kadri will be looked at to take the mantle.
- Cale Makar
The league’s best offensive defenceman received a projection of 15 goals and 58 assists from ESPN, and after his point-per-game season in 2020-21, this is a lowball. He has an accurate projection of 28 points via the power-play and 162 shots on goal. Makar is estimated to have nearly a hit-per-game and block-per-game, with 81 and 77 respectively. He’s only 22-years-old, folks.
- Devon Toews
Being traded from the Avalanche was the best thing that has ever happened to Toews, as he had a career year with the Avs last season both offensively and defensively. Fantasy-wise, ESPN projects Toews scoring 12 goals and 31 assists, which is respectable. 10 of those points belong to the PP. Toews is projected to have 178 shots on goal, 63 hits, and a team-leading 123 blocks. This is arguably their best projection yet.
- Samuel Girard
Basically Makar Lite, Girard has proven he is capable of playing in all situations, especially in the offensive zone. 8 goals and 44 assists is the projection for Girard, which would be a downgrade from his pace last season. When Makar got hurt and missed 12 games last season, Girard proved he could fill in for him almost perfectly. Moving along, his 16 power-play points are an accurate and impressive projection, considering Makar handles the PP1 duties. Despite his low goal total, he is said to have 133 shots on goal. However, with Girard being as small as he is, I would not bet on him hitting his 52-hit, 88-block projection.
- Bowen Byram
The 2019 4th overall picks Makar’s defensive partner of the future. His fantasy projections are underwhelming as expected: 2 goals, 13 assists, 3 power-play points, and 79 shots on goal. ESPN seems to have a strong faith in Byram for physicality next season, with 123 hits and 48 blocks. We’ll see.
- Darcy Kuemper
Fresh out of Arizona, Kuemper is looking to have a bounceback season behind 2020-21’s best defensive team in the NHL. His 33-win projection comes as no surprise. Of these 33 wins, ESPN thinks 5 of those wins will be shutouts, which is tied for 2nd among all goalies. If that wasn’t crazy enough, they think Kuemper will finish the season with a whopping .926 save percentage. If these projections stand strong, we could see the Avalanche have another Vezina Trophy candidate.
- Pavel Francouz
A lower-body injury forced the 31-year-old netminder to miss the entirety of the 2020-21 season, after putting up very impressive numbers as Colorado’s backup the season before. He is back for this upcoming season. While Kuemper will definitely handle most of the starts for the team, Francouz should get about 35% of the team’s starts. After all, he has proven he’s capable of it. ESPN gives the Czech goalie a projection of 17 wins, 2 of those being shutouts, along with a .920 Sv%. If not for his injury potentially nagging him throughout the season, Francouz will be a great option for any fantasy team.
ESPN lowballed on most of the Avalanche stat projections for the upcoming season, and it is worth noting that they gave Connor McDavid a 151-point prediction. Maybe it’s a dislike for Avalanche? Perhaps they do not know what this team has to offer offensively? Whatever it may be, any fantasy enjoyer like myself should expect most of the players above to exceed their projections.