Eddie Olczyk is all in on the Colorado Avalanche and their opportunity to be the best team in the NHL for the next few seasons.
Olczyk, the lead analyst for NBC Sports, joined the NHL @TheRink podcast on Wednesday and raved to co-hosts Dan Rosen and Shawn P. Roarke about the Avalanche, especially with the additions of two-time Stanley Cup champion forward Brandon Saad and defenseman Devon Toews.
“The team to beat, and I think the team to beat for the next two years, is the Colorado Avalanche,” Olczyk said. “I still believe they need a goalie, a veteran goalie to maybe come in there and help Philipp Grubauer. I don’t know what’s going on with [Pavel] Francouz or what have you, but they’re the team.
“I think the Avalanche have a chance and a half to go on a run here and really be a dominant team.”
Olczyk certainly isn’t discounting the opportunity in front of the Vegas Golden Knights, especially with their goaltending of Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury and the addition of defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, but he questions their depth down the middle.
Vegas traded center Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 9, clearing his $6.5 million NHL salary cap charge to help them sign Pietrangelo to a seven-year, $61 million contract ($8.8 million average annual value) three days later.
The Golden Knights have William Karlsson as the top center on their depth chart but it’s unclear if Cody Glass or Chandler Stephenson is No. 2, neither of whom has been a regular top-six center in the NHL.
“I look at their team and go, ‘Are they deep enough at the center ice position?'” Olczyk said. “Do they have a difference maker or two at the center ice position? That to me is the biggest question mark I have on Vegas. … Right now, I would say the answer is no.”
In addition to Olczyk, Meghan Duggan also joined the podcast.
Duggan, the former captain of the U.S. Women’s national team that won the gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, announced her retirement as a player on Oct. 13. She talked to Rosen and Roarke about her goals of working in the game off the ice to continue to promote inclusion and equal rights for all involved.
Duggan also mentioned that her long-term goal is to eventually become the first female NHL general manager.
“That’s obviously a lofty, lofty goal but why not set a big dream for myself and go after it?” Duggan said. “That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.”
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