DENVER (KDVR) — It was a memorable off-season Stanley Cup celebration for the Colorado Avalanche, but now it’s back to business.

The official Stanley Cup banner — the team’s third — will be raised in Ball Arena on Wednesday night as the team takes to the ice for its first game of the regular season.

Avs make roster moves

While former general manager/new president Joe Sakic and new general manager Chris MacFarland weren’t celebrating with the Cup, they were making some roster moves. But not too many. The head office made sure to keep the key core players, specifically the top line.

“We know we’re not going to be able to sign everybody,” the NHL’s reigning general manager of the year said not long after his team hoisted the Cup. “We know that. But we’ve got our priority.”

Nathan MacKinnon signs 8-year contract

MacKinnon signed for $12.6 million per year, making him the highest-paid player in the NHL. His new contract begins after this season, as it’s the last of his current seven-year contract he signed in 2016. He was making $6.3 million.

“Nathan is obviously one of the premier players in the NHL so a long-term extension was something we wanted to get done before the season started,” MacFarland said. “He has that rare combination of speed and power with a high compete level that makes him a generational player. We are thrilled he will continue to be a member of this team and this community for many years to come.”

He was second highest in points for the team’s Stanley Cup-winning season with 88 points in the regular season and 24 points in the postseason.

Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog are both on long-term contracts with Rantanen set to become a free agent after the 2024-25 season. The Avs captain is locked in until the 2028-29 season.

Who’s new in burgundy and blue

While some big producers for the Avs during the team’s Stanley Cup run have departed ways, new faces in the locker room will be the question mark going into this season.

Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Darcy Kuemper all headed out of the Centennial State due to free agency but the Avalanche chose carefully to replace them:

  • Forward Evan Rodrigues: one-year, $2 million deal
  • Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev: Avs traded 2022 third-round, fifth-round picks and 2023 third-round pick to the New York Rangers
  • Lukas Sedlak: one-year, $800,000 deal, won Calder Trophy Cup with Coach Jared Bednar in 2016

Can and will the Avs repeat?

The Avalanche are favorites to repeat, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, but their biggest threat in the Western Conference is the team whose General Manager Doug Armstrong called the “constant” amid other teams rising and falling in the standings. The St. Louis Blues have become the blueprint for tweaking around the core, even letting captain and top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo walk while keeping players like Jordan Binnington, Brayden Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly.

What to expect for opening night

The Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup banner will be raised to the rafters prior to the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Ball Arena Wednesday night.

The organization will also have:

  • Avs Alley outside of the Grand Atrium: Inflatable rink, booths and music
  • Red carpet: Rolled out to welcome the team in for opening night
  • Giveaways: 2022 Stanley Cup Champions replica banners, “Found A Way” Ball aluminum cups
  • Photo opportunities: Throughout Ball Arena
  • Charities auction: clear-out sale hosted by Kroenke Sports Charities outside of section 142 on the main concourse

The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are still available for the game.