<
>
Get ESPN+

Looking ahead for the Avalanche: Veteran scoring help needed

The Avalanche had a dominant top line, featuring Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, but didn't get enough secondary scoring. Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2017-18, along with three keys to its offseason and a way-too-early prediction on what 2018-19 will hold.


What went wrong

The Colorado Avalanche made a quick exit from the playoffs, but it's hard not to view the 2017-18 season as a massive success.

After finishing 2016-17 with a franchise-low 48 points, they nearly doubled that total. They did so after dealing away a key player, Matt Duchene, in a blockbuster November trade, and that came after withstanding months of speculation and tension.

The Avalanche also excelled despite a flurry of important injuries. And, they strung together a 10-game winning streak in January that put the rest of the league on notice. Were it not for the Vegas Golden Knights' stunning success, Jared Bednar would have an excellent case as the NHL's coach of the year.

That said, while the Avalanche completely outperformed expectations, ultimate success evaded them. Nathan MacKinnon put up an MVP-caliber campaign, but the Avalanche did not get sufficient production outside their first line (wingers Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog also had strong seasons). Late-season injuries to defenseman Erik Johnson and goalie Semyon Varlamov were huge blows.

In the end, they ran into a juggernaut in the Nashville Predators, and just didn't have enough to get past them.