The NHL is what is known as a “copycat” league because teams look around and try to emulate the success of others. On Sunday, June 26, the Colorado Avalanche won the franchise’s third Stanley Cup championship. The rest of the NHL views this feat as something that was inevitable due to the way the Avalanche was built.
The Carolina Hurricanes are still trying to take the next step in their playoff progression. The Colorado Avalanche was eliminated in the second round for three straight years starting in 2019 before finally coming over the hump this year. This Avs core has endured adversity and overcome it to reach its full potential, and the Hurricanes have a lot to learn from them.
#1- The stars always show up when it matters most
No one on the Hurricanes roster compares to Cale Makar or Nathan Mackinnon, but the Hurricanes’ stars have faltered in the second round of this season, and that seems to be a common theme when we look at why the Hurricanes are having their season have finished.
Of the Avalanche’s “Big 4” (Makar, Mackinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen), all 4 recorded more than a point per game in the playoffs. Nobody on the Canes list has scored a point per game during the playoffs. To win playoff games, your stars MUST show up, and the Canes just didn’t have that when push came to shove.
#2- Depth rating is your friend
One of the biggest offensive problems for the Hurricanes this postseason has been scoring in general, but scoring from the bottom 6 in particular. The Avalanche didn’t have to worry about that, however. Guys like Nichushkin and Compher scored a string of big goals as the Avalanche’s big boys were thwarted, not to mention Arrturi Lehkonen’s performance in the playoffs.
#3- When to go all-in
After losing to Claude Giroux, the front office instead decided to strengthen the lineup and add more depth at the close. This move paid off as the aforementioned Lehkonen played a tremendous role in their cup run. As did Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano, both of whom were acquired in March.
Each year the canes are associated with a variety of names in the trading market, but never pull the trigger. The Colorado Avalanche Championship is proof that there is far more to be gained by trading wisely and not being afraid to spend assets than by saying “we like our group” and buying a mediocre player extremely cheaply to the team.
#4- Don’t give up the core too soon
Colorado had a handful of very disheartening playoff exits and questions arose as to whether or not this group had what it took to win. If Colorado hadn’t made it to the conference finals, those questions likely would have intensified this offseason.
But the front office showed patience, and now the core that was “too soft to win” a year ago is now a Stanley Cup champion. This reinforces the notion that front offices often overreact to disappointments in the playoffs and make bad decisions.
No matter what happens in the next few seasons, the front office must stay the course and not make irrational decisions. The Canes have good core and if they’re able to add another game-changing character, they could see the same success Colorado has enjoyed this season.