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Colorado Avalanche

Fortunately, a souped-up offense will boost the scoring because Patrick Roy is gone

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By Stephen Cannella

Team Page | Predicted Finish: 4

Teemu Selanne is a notorious speed freak who once fed his habit with a flight aboard an F/A-18 Hornet. His large automobile collection includes a Ferrari, a Dodge Viper, a Corvette and a Porsche. He's hell on skates, too. With the arrival of Selanne and Paul Kariya, terms like jet-powered and high-octane will be used often this season to describe the Avalanche offense.

Paul Kariya
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Paul Kariya
Darren Carroll
SI RANKING
(1 best - 30 worst)
OFFENSE 1
DEFENSE 14
GOALTENDING 28
POWER PLAY 1
PENALTY KILLING 20
G.M. AND COACH 4

In July, Selanne, a three-time 50-goal scorer, and Kariya, the former Mighty Ducks sniper, signed with Colorado in a collaboration as finely engineered as one of Selanne's exotic cars. Former teammates in Anaheim and fast friends, they took huge pay cuts to reunite, particularly Kariya, whose salary dropped from $10 million last year to $1.2 million. Selanne will make considerably more than his buddy -- $5.8 million, or $700,000 less than the Sharks paid him last season -- but, Kariya says, "he promised me I'd get to drive his Porsche this year."

The Avalanche is so loaded that Selanne and Kariya will play on the second line with Joe Sakic (26 goals in 2002-03). The top unit features center Peter Forsberg, who won the Hart and Art Ross trophies last season; Milan Hejduk, who was the league's only 50-goal scorer; and Alex Tanguay, who had 26 goals.

While scoring goals won't be a problem, keeping the other team from doing so might be. With the retirement of Patrick Roy, the No. 1 goalie job falls to St. Patrick's backup for the last three years, David Aebischer, a 25-year-old Swiss. His butterfly style will remind some of Roy, but his big-game résumé won't. Aebischer (7-12-0, 2.43 goals-against average last season) has barely more than a period's worth of NHL playoff experience, and he failed miserably at the 2002 Olympics (0-1-1, 4.43). "You never know with goalies until they're Number 1, but he plays a lot like Patrick," says Sakic, the team captain.

Aebischer spent part of his summer touring U.S. landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. The Avs hope he paid attention to the monument to netminding that used to play in front of him.

Insider

After the Avs signed wings Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, many observers conceded the Cup to them. Not so fast! They are taking a huge risk in replacing retired G Patrick Roy with unproven David Aebischer and Philippe Sauve. If those two flop, expect G.M. Pierre Lacroix to trade for a No. 1 (Nikolai Khabibulin perhaps?).... Outside of Rob Blake and Adam Foote, the defense is suspect.... Tony Granato, a rookie behind the bench last year, was outcoached badly in the playoffs.

Issue date: October 13, 2003

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