In the salary cap era, where NHL teams have to be efficient with their money, it's important for each club to have a core group of players who set the foundation on which to build the rest of the team. This group often includes the players who consume the bulk of a team's cap space, while also providing the greatest on-ice impact.

With that in mind, Eye on Hockey introduces our summer series: "Core Values." We'll take the rest of summer to evaluate the group of five to seven players who make up the core of each team. Using criteria like point production, average age, how the players were acquired, total cost and cap hit, we'll detail which teams have the strongest cores and which need work. On top of that, we'll also gaze into the future to look at the players who could one day be part of this crucial group for each team.

The Colorado Avalanche stunned the hockey world last year by starting hot and staying hot for much of the season. A year after finishing with the second worst record in the NHL, the Avs posted the NHL's third best record in 2013-14 and won the tough Central Division. It was dramatic and at times almost felt too good to be true. The team often seemed to teeter on the brink, but proved doubters wrong by puting together a simply remarkable regular season.

Alas, the Avs' season ended rather unceremoniously in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of divisional foe Minnesota Wild in seven games. Brighter days should be expected, but the offseason the Avalanche just had won't exactly build on the optimism of last season.

Gone is Paul Stastny, who signed within the division, joining the St. Louis Blues. That's a good chunk of experience and production gone from the center position, which is definitely a position of strength for the Avs. In comes future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, fresh off a 30-goal season with the Boston Bruins. But beyond Iginla, the Avs didn't address key needs substantially, most notably on defense.