The Colorado Avalanche made a valiant effort for the postseason with a strong second half, but will ultimately miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons. Still, there is plenty to be optimistic about for the future of the NHL's youngest club.
Gabriel Landeskog is the heavy favorite for the Calder Trophy. Semyon Varlamov played like the elite goaltender the Avalanche thought they were acquiring this past summer, and carried the team on his back since the All-Star Break. Ryan O'Reilly appears to have made the leap into an offensive threat. Peter Mueller appears finally healthy, with a good chance of continuing his career in the NHL.
There were also some down moments, and many included team captain Milan Hejduk. The veteran winger may be playing his last game in an Avalanche sweater, as there are rumors that he has been considering retirement. Hejduk had similar thoughts last season, but ultimately returned on a one-year contract. But after being demoted to the fourth line, Hejduk rarely showed the spark that made him one of the league's feared snipers. His 14 goals this season match his career low (set in his rookie year). Hejduk will also finish with fewer than 20 goals in a season for the first time since his rookie campaign -- breaking a franchise record 11 straight seasons with at least 20 goals scored.
For most of his career, Hejduk has been a cornerstone of the Avalanche offense. Though there is nothing yet official, this may turn out to be his final game in the NHL.
Puck drops at 7:00pm MT
For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Predators blog On The Forecheck