Outlook: Keenan will deal for a Stanley Cup-caliber goalie during the season. If Brett Hull keeps filling the net, the Blues could be a powerhouse in the spring. Second in the conference.
The Move: What does $75 million get you? For Comsat, which bought the Quebec Nordiques and plunked them in Denver, the joy of not having to wait around for a Stanley Cup contender.
The Good Stuff the Avalanche Brings to the NHL: Speed, frightening depth at center—Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Claude Lapointe and Troy Murray—and a hot young coach in Marc Crawford.
The Bad Stuff the Avalanche Brings to the NHL: Another singular team name and pug-ugly uniforms.
Rocky Mountain Low: Wing Wendel Clark, the guts of Colorado, held out and could force a trade. Forwards Martin Rucinsky, Chris Simon and vastly underrated Scott Young also missed camp because of contract disputes.
Outlook: Watch this fast-skating team blow away opponents in Denver's mile-high altitude. Sakic could win a scoring title. If Jocelyn Thibault establishes himself as the No. 1 goalie, and Colorado finally lands a mobile defenseman, the Avalanche will make a run at Detroit. Third in the conference.
The Riddle: Mike Ridley becomes the filling in an Aeroflot sandwich. Ridley, obtained from Toronto, is a decent two-way center who should get a point a game and cover his own end, which is fortunate because Pavel Bure and the newly acquired Alexander Mogilny, both Russians, skate at Mach 5—but only in one direction. Coach Rick Ley has the option of playing Mogilny at center and Ridley on left wing. Ridley likes to work in the corners. Someone on this line has to go get the puck.