- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

COLORADO AVALANCHE

LAST SEASON: 39-39-4, 82 points. Didn’t make the playoffs.

COACH: Jared Bednar (first season, first NHL season).

ADDED: C Joe Colborne, D Fedor Tyutin, D Patrick Wiercioch.

LOST: F Mikkel Boedker, F Shawn Matthias, F Jack Skille, D Zach Redmond, D Nick Holden, G Reto Berra.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Nathan MacKinnon. The 20-year-old speedster recently signed a $44.1 million, seven-year deal that runs through the 2022-23 season. He had 21 goals and 31 assists last season, but missed the last 10 games after he sprained a ligament in his knee. MacKinnon also sat out the final 18 games the year before because of a broken foot. He’s coming off a good showing at the World Cup of Hockey, scoring two goals for Team North America. He should fit in well with Bednar’s up-tempo style.

OUTLOOK: Patrick Roy’s sudden exit caught everyone by surprise. The team is quickly learning a new scheme under Bednar, one that could actually be faster than the version Roy implemented. This team has a strong core of young forwards (MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, captain Gabriel Landeskog), veteran leadership (Francois Beauchemin, Jarome Iginla), a solid blue line (Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie) and a talented tandem of goaltenders (Semyon Varlamov, Calvin Pickard). Bednar has a proven track record in the minor leagues, leading the Lake Erie Monsters, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, to the 2016 Calder Cup title. A fast start is crucial for the Avalanche, who’ve struggled out of the blocks the last two seasons and missed the playoffs.

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