The NHL is what is known as a “copycat” league, as teams will look around and try to emulate others’ success. On Sunday, June 26th the Colorado Avalanche won the franchise’s third Stanley Cup championship. The rest of the NHL views that feat as something that was inevitable, based on the way the Avalanche was built.
The Carolina Hurricanes are still looking to take that next step in their playoff progression. The Colorado Avalanche was eliminated in the second round three years straight starting in 2019, before eventually getting over the hump this year. This Avs core has gone through adversity and overcame it to reach its full potential, and the Hurricanes can learn a few things from them.
#1- The stars consistently show up when it matters most
Nobody on the Hurricanes roster is comparable to Cale Makar or Nathan Mackinnon, but the stars of the Hurricanes faltered in the second round this season, and that seems to be a common theme whenever we review why the Hurricanes had their season ended.
Of the Avalanche’s “big 4” (Makar, Mackinnon, Landeskog, and Rantanen), all 4 registered over a point per game in the playoffs. Nobody on the Canes roster produced at a point per game rate during the playoffs. In order to win playoff games, your stars HAVE to show up, and the Canes simply haven’t had that when the going gets tough.
#2- Depth scoring is your friend
One of the biggest offensive woes for the Hurricanes this postseason was scoring in general, but especially scoring from the bottom 6. The Avalanche however did not have to worry about this. Guys like Nichushkin and Compher scored a number of big goals when the Avalanche’s big guys were slowed down, not to mention the playoff performance of Arrturi Lehkonen.
#3- When to go all-in
After losing out on Claude Giroux the front office instead decided to bolster the lineup and add more depth at the trade deadline. This move paid off as the aforementioned Lehkonen played a humongous role in their cup run. As did Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano who were both acquired in March.
Every year the Canes are linked to a multitude of names on the trade market but never pull the trigger. The Colorado Avalanche Championship is proof that making smart trades and not being afraid to spend assets can benefit the team much more than saying “we like our group” and buying extremely low on a so-so player.
#4- Not to give up on the core too early
Colorado had a handful of very disheartening playoff exits and questions started to pop up about whether or not this group had what it takes to win. If Colorado had failed to advance to the conference finals those questions probably would’ve intensified this offseason.
But the front office showed patience, and now the core that was “too soft to win” just a year ago are now Stanley Cup champions. This reinforces the idea that front offices often overreact to playoff disappointments and make poor decisions.
No matter what happens over the next few seasons the front office needs to stay the course and not make any irrational decisions. The Canes have a good core and if they are able to add another game-breaking piece they could see the same success Colorado celebrated this season.