Comments / New

Colorado Avalanche 2023-24 Season Preview

Oct 3, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Jonathan Drouin (27) skates against the Dallas Stars during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche head into the start of the 2023-24 season looking for revenge. After a disappointing Stanley Cup defense which included a first-round exit to the Seattle Kraken, some changes needed to be made. And boy, did they come. There are still the stars of the team and questions need to be answered. Who will be the ones to answer them? Let’s go over it all:

Key Additions and Subtractions


Evan Rodrigues (Florida Panthers), J.T. Compher (Detroit Red Wings), Erik Johnson (Buffalo Sabres), Alex Newhook (Montreal Canadiens), Darren Helm (Retirement)

The major losses for the Avs came in the middle six. This came in the form of Evan Rodrigues and J.T. Compher. Rodrigues’ one year in Colorado didn’t earn him a long-term deal with the Avalanche, while Compher’s career year priced him out of the team to head to Detroit. Also in the middle six was the departure of Alex Newhook, who wasn’t what the Avs were looking for to fill the second center spot in the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Avs decided it was time to move on from Erik Johnson, the longest-tenured athlete in Denver before his departure. His $6M deal plus the emergence of other options within the depth of Colorado’s defense saw him move on emotionally to upstate New York. And finally, Darren Helm decided to hang up the skates after struggling massively through injury last season.


Ryan Johansen (Nashville Predators), Miles Wood (New Jersey Devils), Jonathan Drouin (Montreal Canadiens), Tomas Tatar (New Jersey Devils), Ross Colton (Tampa Bay Lightning)

Into the lineup come several free agents and a few trades. These trades include Ryan Johansen for Alex Galchenyuk and Ross Colton for the 37th overall pick in the draft. Johansen looks likely to fill the second-line center spot, something the Avs have been battling for years. Meanwhile, Colton will be a great asset in the middle six with a physical presence and scoring touch.

New Jersey rejects Miles Wood and Tomas Tatar came to the Avs as well, bringing size and scoring. Wood took a longer, six-year deal for less money to be part of what should be a monstrous third line. On the other side of the line is Tatar, who was another late summer signing on a one-year cheap deal with tons of upside in depth scoring.

Finally, the biggest move with lots of people wondering what will happen: Jonathan Drouin, coming as a free agent from Montreal. The former Halifax Moosehead teammate alongside Nathan MacKinnon looks to reconnect and have the same chemistry he had with Mac in the juniors. If they can rekindle said chemistry, he just may be the sneakiest, cheapest, and best first-line replacement for the injured Gabriel Landeskog for the season and beyond.

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Biggest Question

Colorado’s strength comes in its top line and pairings. Of course, this is where the stars are and plenty of scoring comes from. The same goes for the power play, who was really good last year and has looked good to start the preseason as well.

However, the biggest weakness and question needing to be answered are linked together: can the Avs find the depth scoring they had in their run to the Stanley Cup two seasons ago? Last season, they did not have any depth scoring in the playoffs and struggled to find much in the regular season, leading to their demise. Of course, it also connects to injuries and if the Avs stay healthy. Colorado knows what it’s like to suffer through hell and back with injuries last season, and could easily be a weakness again this season, leading to a lack of depth scoring and so on – some of which is already being dealt with.

Stars of the show

I think if you ask anyone to name the biggest names on the Colorado Avalanche team, almost everyone would say the same names over and over again. Of course, these names include Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen, Artturi Lehkonen, and Valeri Nichushkin.

Every player has their own talents in their own right, but together are just that much better. We’ve seen the connection MacKinnon and Rantanen have on a talented first line, while Lehkonen and Nichushkin can wear teams out simply by their forechecking prowess. It doesn’t even go without saying how Cale Makar is basically a forward playing defense and having a great scoring record alongside his partner, perhaps the most underrated defenseman in the league Devon Toews.

Under the Radar players

A few players make up this category. These are both new acquisitions to the team: Ryan Johansen and Jonathan Drouin. Johansen is coming from the Preds where he has struggled with injury and been shipped off with two more years on his contract. He has also been touted as the second-line center for the Avs, a position which is heavily scrutinized.

Drouin, meanwhile, might have less pressure on him but higher expectations to perform — especially if he ends up playing the majority of the season with MacKinnon on the first line. Drouin is similar to Johansen, who has struggled with injury with his old team and looking for a change of scenery. He may go unnoticed across the league, but if he performs well it could lead to wonders for the Avs as it did in this overtime with this drop pass.

Key rookies/young players

Of course, the Avalanche are notorious for having a lack of a prospect system and haven’t had a Colorado Eagles graduate into the NHL since Logan O’Connor. However, this could change at least at the start of this season.

Justus Annunen has played in the majority of preseason games in place of the injured Pavel Francouz and looked spectacular in doing so. He may be key to start the season depending on the status of Francouz. The same will go for whoever ends up filling the fourth-line center spot, whether it is Riley Tufte, Ben Meyers, Frederick Olofsson, or Joel Kiviranta.

In the end, it will be a battle as it always is for the top of the Central Division. The Dallas Stars have gotten better and look to get ahead of the Avs after falling one point short last season. Can they do it, or will the Avs’s moves be enough to earn them a fourth straight season of winning their division?

For more Colorado Avalanche content, please visit Puck Yeti.