Archive for Free Agency

Colorado Avalanche Newcomers: A Fan’s Quick Guide

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The Fifth Line presents this article from Geremy McFadden, found on Twitter @TheGoalieGiant.

The off-season has reached its most boring part. It’s the beginning of August and we still have another month to wait before training camp begins. After all the hype and action that happened in late June and early July, it’s time to look back and see who the Avalanche organization added to the fold. If you’re a fan who loves to watch the Avs but has a hard time keeping track of who the team added and just what those players add to the organization then this is the guide for you.

Andreas Martinsen (or Bifkaka)

Acquired via:

Free Agent signing April 6th 2015 to a One-Year Entry Level Deal

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

2nd half of the 2015/16 NHL season

Player Summary:

25yo big-bodied winger that played in the DEL (German Elite League) from

Norway. Plays a North American style game, goes hard to the net, skates decently enough for a big player and has good hands in close. Prototypical Roy-like player.

2015/16 Expectations:

Start in the AHL playing top 6 minutes. In the latter half of the 2015/16 season, gets a cup of coffee at the NHL level to evaluate his progress.

Quotes:

“His size has definitely not been overstated in stories, and his straightaway speed is like a runaway train. He’s going to make an impact right away in the AHL with his size alone. If he can demonstrate a scoring touch, I wouldn’t rule out 3rd line upside for this physical force.”

Source: http://www.milehighhockey.com/2015/7/7/8908873/avalanche-rookie-development-camp-day-1-recap

“Martinsen, on the other hand, demonstrated an easy ability to park in front of the net and obscure any sight lines the goalies were hoping to achieve.”

Source: http://www.milehighhockey.com/2015/7/7/8908873/avalanche-rookie-development-camp-day-1-recap

Carl Soderberg (or The Yeti)

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Acquired via:

Trade then signed for 5yrs @ 4.75AAV

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Opening night of the 2015/16 season

Summary of Player:

Big centerman who has played for the Boston Bruins the past two seasons putting up 44 and 48 points respectively. Legally blind in one eye but still possesses great vision and playmaking skills. Will be a great asset on the Avalanche Power Play while exhibiting solid two-way play.

2015/16 Expectations:

Sakic expects him to center Landeskog and MacKinnon to start in training camp.

~50 points and a major part of the Avalanche power play.

Quotes:

“I was waiting for Boston to come back to me,” Soderberg, a casualty of the Bruins’ salary cap problems, said in a phone interview from Sweden. “When they didn’t have room for me, my agent told me Colorado was interested in me. There was no doubt for me. Colorado is a great hockey club. I said go ahead, and then everything went really fast.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28534427/carl-soderberg-wanted-come-colorado-right-away

“Soderberg has played with Landeskog on the Swedish national team and recently received a “welcome to the team” call from the Avalanche captain. Soderberg said it’s “really inspiring” to have an opportunity to center Landeskog and MacKinnon.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28534427/carl-soderberg-wanted-come-colorado-right-away

Nikita Zadorov

Acquired via:

Trade from Buffalo Sabres (O’Reilly trade)

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Opening night of the 2015/16 season

Summary of Player:

Big Russian defender who will be entering his 2nd NHL season and centerpiece of the O’Reilly trade. Zadorov was taken in the MacKinnon draft by the Buffalo Sabres then spent one year back in Junior and last season in the NHL. He’s a 20 year-old, top-4 defender who towers over nearly everyone.

He possesses a mean streak, a big shot from the point, loves his open ice hits and has good mobility. Still is raw in the defensive zone but has top pairing potential. Avs could have a Rob Blake-lite in Zadorov.

2015/16 Expectations:

Regular in the Avalanche line-up. Could either be paired with Tyson Barrie or Brad Stuart to start and then end up with Erik Johnson near the end of the season.

Quotes:

“I’ve played against him, and he’s obviously a very good offensive player,” Zadorov said of Barrie, whom he has not yet met. “I’m sure we’ll work well together.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28519906/avalanches-varlamov-gets-russian-company-two-new-teammates

“…he is a great man for a shut down role and he has a fantastic point shot. What he really seems to pride himself on his his physicality and his great hitting ability. Throughout the season, he demonstrated it with a vengeance.”

Source: http://sabrenoise.com/2015/06/07/buffalo-sabres-players-year-in-review-nikita-zadorov/

Mikhail Grigorenko

Acquired via:

Trade then signed for 1yrs @ 650K AAV

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Opening night of the 2015/16 season

Summary of Player:

Reunited with Patrick Roy at last, Grigorenko is an enigmatic Russian forward who can turn the O’Reilly trade into a big win for the Avalanche. Grigorenko is a big center who can play wing if need be. He’s not physical but does use his size to shield the puck. He’s also an excellent passer that also possesses a good shot. He’s patient with the puck which makes Grigorenko an excellent Power Play player. Lots of untapped offensive potential. Grigorenko is probably the most hard working NHL player this off-season.

2015/16 Expectations:

A useful addition on the powerplay along with starting on the right track towards getting close to his potential. Will probably start on the 3rd line but could end up flanking Matt Duchene in the top 6 sooner rather than later.

Quotes:

“It was great when I saw the trade, and it got even better when I knew it was with Nikita,” said Grigorenko, who speaks fluent English. “It’s great being able to go somewhere with one of your best friends. I’m really excited about that. We’re really good friends. He’s a good guy, and we’ve known each other for a while.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28519906/avalanches-varlamov-gets-russian-company-two-new-teammates

Before being traded, the center player had decided to spend his summer in Quebec to refine his skating. Training with expert Julie Robitaille is started for three weeks now and there is already a progression.

“Julie showed me good techniques,” said the former Remparts. “She thinks I’ve greatly improved my skating ability. It will be a new element that I bring to my game.”

“We already see a marked improvement,” says his coach. “From the first session, I quickly corrected things and it already felt better, more comfortable and more explosive. ”

Source: http://www.rds.ca/hockey/lnh/mikhail-grigorenko-a-la-ferme-intention-de-se-tailler-une-place-chez-l-avalanche-lnh-1.2501972

JT Compher

Acquired via:

O’Reilly Trade

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

End of the 2017/2018 season

Summary of Player:

Drafted in 2013 (MacKinnon Draft) in the 2nd round by the Buffalo Sabres.

Compher is a NHL coaches dream player. Compher is the prototypical 3rd line winger that works hard, hits hard, plays with his heart on his shoulder and is leadership material. He’ll be entering his 3rd season with the University of Michigan as the Captain of the team for the 2015/16 season. He spent his own money coming to the Avalanche rookie development camp so there are high hopes that he won’t go to free agency after his NCAA career is over.

2015/16 Expectations:

Take his bigger role in stride and just keep doing what he is doing in Michigan. Just don’t take a step back in development.

Quotes:

“I have really focused on my overall strength and adding weight to be stronger on the ice and more physical. I have also done both skating power and technique work to be more explosive and faster in game situations. Overall it has been a good summer so far with a lot more work still to do.”

Source: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/070915aaa.html

“July has been harder since so many guys are at different camps, but all the guys have a really good understanding of the work that needs to be put in at this time so we can have a successful season. I have been talking to many guys whether they be at camp, home or still in Ann Arbor, and the time and work being put in has been outstanding. I can’t wait for more guys to be back in Ann Arbor when I return so we can continue to push towards our goals we have for this season together.”

Source: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-hockey/spec-rel/070915aaa.html

Francois Beauchemin

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Acquired via:

Free Agency signed to 3 year deal @ 4.5M per

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Opening night 2015/16 NHL Season

Summary of Player:

Beauchemin is a more mobile and a better passing version of our own Jan Hejda. He’s a steady defensive presence on the blueline that can play in the top 4. Last season he led the Ducks in TOI for both regular season and the playoffs. The only similarity between Beauchemin and Brad Stuart are their respective ages. Beauchemin is the better defender in every category compared to Stuart. In fact, Beauchemin has less mileage on his body as he has played 673 games compared to Brad Stuart’s 1,050 NHL games.

2015/16 Expectations:

A stable and reliable presence on the blue line allowing Erik Johnson/Tyson Barrie to play his own game. Bring a calm/veteran presence and be a big player in important on-ice situations.

Quotes:

“He played top minutes with Anaheim, and that was the biggest thing: we were looking for somebody to play with EJ for top minutes, play against the other team’s top line,” Sakic said. “We looked at all the free agents out there and there were only a handful that we knew could play. Francois did a tremendous job for Anaheim and I know he’s excited to come here and do the same thing here and play with EJ.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28414124/francois-beauchemin-defenseman-signs-avalanche-report-says

“I’m that defensive-mindset defenseman and like to play that hard, physical game. (Johnson and I) complement each other, reading off each other and making that first breakout pass to make it easier to get out of our zone. That’s been my game for 10 years and I’m going to keep doing that.” – Beauchemin

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28414124/francois-beauchemin-defenseman-signs-avalanche-report-says

Blake Comeau

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Acquired via:

Free Agency signed to 3 year deal @ 2.4M per

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Opening night 2015/16 NHL Season

Summary of Player:

Comeau is a 3rd line winger that can shoot, hit, forecheck and kill penalties. Replacement for Jamie McGinn who went with O’Reilly to Buffalo. Comeau can also do spot duty in the top-6 as his best years have come with playing with John Tavares and Evgeni Malkin. A fancy stat darling.

2015/16 Expectations:

Be the trigger man on a line with Grigorenko to start the season, kill penalties and provide a hard hitting forecheck along with ~15 goals.

Quotes:

“He’s a versatile player. He can go up and down your lineup. He plays a north-south game,” Sakic said. “He skates hard. He hits hard. He’s a puck possession guy. And he’s good on the penalty kill. He can also get you 15 goals.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28414124/francois-beauchemin-defenseman-signs-avalanche-report-says

“Comeau put up solid possession numbers with many of his linemates. That meant that he wasn’t dragging anyone down while they were on the ice together. Add to this the fact that he scored 16 goals and 31 points while missing substantial time due to injury and you have the makings of a really good season.

Source: http://www.pensburgh.com/2015/5/21/8633599/season-in-review-blake-comeau

 

Mikko Rantanen

Acquired via:

10th pick(1st round) in 2015 NHL draft

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Opening night of the 2015/16 season

Summary of Player:

Big-bodied winger that is one of the most NHL ready players in his draft year.

Automatically became top prospect for the Avalanche. Possesses a deadly shot and plays a full 200ft game. As an 18yo Rantanen became the best player on his team, that was full of grown men (TPS of the Finnish League), halfway through the season and never looked back. High ceiling regarding his offensive abilities.

2015/16 Expectations:

End up in the AHL after training camp and be the leading offensive force on the San Antonio Rampage while learning to play on North American ice. Will probably see some NHL time at the very latest near the end of the regular season.

Quotes:

“Mikko is a versatile forward who brings size, skill and a high compete level,” Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic said in a news release. “We saw him at our development camp last week and are now eager to see how he does at our training camp in September.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28476541/mikko-rantanen-signs-3-year-entry-level-contract

“He’s a big, strong, mature, mobile two-way power forward who protects the puck very well, has a great reach and is very strong in battles along the boards and in the corners,” Stubb told NHL.com. “He’s very close to being the complete package.”

Source: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/prospect-of-interest-the-411-on-mikko-rantanen/

AJ Greer

Acquired via:

39th overall(2nd Round) in the 2015 NHL Draft

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

End of the 2018/2019 season

Summary of Player:

Big winger who plays for Boston University and the first surprise of the 2015 draft for Avalanche fans. Skipped out on Prep School in order to play this past season for BU. Stats are unimpressive but that is due to his near constant stay on the 4th line before being given a chance in the top 9 for Boston University. Received glowing reviews from Avs fans at the Avalanche rookie development camp for his work effort and tenacity.

2015/16 Expectations:

With the graduation of Boston University’s top offensive players, it’s time for AJ Greer to step up and show some of his offensive talent.

Quotes:

“Greer started to play better hockey down the stretch — in all three zones — and was rewarded with being moved up to the second line. He made the most of his increased playing time with a goal and two assists in the last five games.”

Source: http://www.sbncollegehockey.com/hockeyeast/2015/6/25/8840407/2015-nhl-draft-prospect-a-j-greer-boston-university-forward-kimball-union-alum

“He’s active in the offensive zone. He’s big, strong. He’s getting more confident,” explained Quinn.

Source: http://www.sbncollegehockey.com/hockeyeast/2015/6/25/8840407/2015-nhl-draft-prospect-a-j-greer-boston-university-forward-kimball-union-alum

Nicolas Meloche

Acquired via:

40th overall(2nd Round) in the 2015 NHL Draft

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Latter half of the 2019/20 NHL season

Summary of Player:

Two-way defender that has played like a number 1 defender in the QMJHL since he was 16yo. Meloche is big, loves to use his size against his opponents and is an all situation defender.

Meloche has a big point shot and is used as a weapon on the PP much like Kyle Wood (another Avalanche prospect) is used on his team for. Meloche’s biggest weakness is his skating. Specifically his speed and acceleration; however with a good skating coach this weakness can be nullified. Meloche’s ceiling is top-pairing defender whereas his floor seems to be at the very least a NHL defender on the bottom pairing.

2015/16 Expectations:

Head back to Baie-Comeau work on his skating, contend for a spot on the Canadian U-20 team and continue on his development path.

Quotes: “Even as a 16-year-old he was playing huge minutes as a top four defenceman, and being utilized on both the penalty kill and the power play.”

Source: http://lastwordonsports.com/2015/05/17/2015-nhl-draft-profile-46-nicolas-meloche/

“Real good two-way game, and another guy with some bite to his game,” Hepple said of Meloche.” I always use the reference — a junkyard dog kind of game. Plays hard, tough on people in front of the net.

Not afraid to stick his nose in anywhere on the ice. Great shot. Great size. And he’s got some smarts. He plays the game the right way.”

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_28395604/avs-fall-back-gain-picks

Jean-Christophe Beaudin

Acquired via:

71th overall(3rd Round) in the 2015 NHL Draft

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Call-Up in 2019/20 NHL season

Summary of Player:

Has played one season in the QMJHL so far. Scored 53 points in 68 games plus 5 points in 6 playoff games. Beaudin is a playmaking center-man with a good slapshot that allows him to play the point on the Power Play. Projects to be a 3rd center in the NHL that can help on the Power Play. Jarrett Stoll in his prime or a more offensive Stephane Yelle are his NHL comparables. Considered a sleeper pick by a few. Possible he’ll play on a line with Julien Nantel, another Avalanche prospect.

2015/16 Expectations:

Continue improving his play at both ends of the ice in Rouyn-Noranda. Work on the release of his wrist shot.

Quotes:

“Very underrated, strong defensive game and has great speed. Look for offensive game to take another step next season.” – HP scout Jérôme Bérubé

“I really like this kid. He has some skill but doesn’t look to have high-end offensive upside for the NHL level. He’s a very smart player. He looks like a player coaches will love. He seemed to execute on the ice with amazing attention to detail…great stick position, angling, defensive positioning etc…I would draft this kid and I’m not going to totally rule out him posting some surprising numbers moving forward. “ – Mark Edwards

Andrei Mironov

Acquired via:

101st overall(4th Round) in the 2015 NHL Draft

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

Opening Night 2018/19 NHL season

Summary of Player:

Surprise pick of the draft for the Avalanche who have not drafted a Russian player since Denis Parshin in the 2004 NHL entry draft. Mironov is the oldest player taken in the draft by the Avalanche as Mironov was 20 when drafted (is 21 now). He’s the definition of a big risk but big reward draft pick. Already an All-Star at the KHL level and played a significant role on the Russian National Team at the World Hockey Championship who finished with a Silver Medal.

More of a defensive-defenseman that can hit, skate, move the puck and play on the power play, though not in the capacity of Meloche or Wood. Mironov’s KHL contract expires a few months before the Avalanche lose his NHL rights.

2015/16 Expectations:

Work on his offensive game while remaining a defensive powerhouse for his team in Dynamo.

Quotes:

“He is an excellent assistant to teammates, though always makes sure that his efforts on the offensive do not affect his defensive function.”

“Andrei not only cuts an impressive figure (189 cm, 88 kg) but also has a top-notch hockey intellect.”

http://rbth.com/sport/2014/05/07/continental_harvest_five_russian_hockey_talents_who_may_join_the_n

Sergei Boikov

Acquired via:

171st overall(6th Round) in the 2015 NHL Draft

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

2019/20 NHL season

Summary of Player:

One of the older players in the draft. Boikov is a Russian defenseman who plays similar to Alexei Emelin of the Montreal Canadiens. Boikov loves to hit and has an underrated first pass.

Currently fighting for a spot on the Russian National U-20 team for the World Junior Championship. He’s a long shot prospect that could end up being a top 4 defender in the NHL.

2015/16 Expectations:

Make the Russian U-20 team and continue making progress in Drummondville on all aspects of his game.

Quotes:

“Sergei Boikov is the leader on defense. He plays a ton, provides a great physical presence and is one of just a handful of plus players on Drummondville.”

Source: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/juniors/chl-sportsnet-armada-push-no-1-qmjhl/

“Boikov has above all a sense of defensive hockey. He is strong physically. He competed under pressure. He loves the challenge of neutralizing the best tactic. It is safe for his teammates. By his example, he is a leader. It is also recognized in the dressing room and totally committed to the organization, “he listed, recalling that the number 55 has played despite a double shoulder injury late in the season.” – General Manager Dominic Ricard

Source: http://www.journalexpress.ca/Sports/Hockey/2015-03-24/article-4088051/%26laquo%3BBoikov,-cest-un-Dumont-russe!%26raquo%3B/1

Gustav Olhaver

Acquired via:

191st overall(7th Round) in the 2015 NHL Draft

Soonest He’ll be in an Avs Jersey:

2019/20 NHL season

Summary of Player:

A massive Swedish center-man who stands at 6’ 6” and the last pick for the Avalanche in the 2015 NHL entry draft. Was also the first pick (and only pick) for the Seattle Thunderbirds in the CHL Import Draft. Mostly plays center but can move to the wing. Plays a power forward type game and loves going to the net. Lots of development time in front of Olhaver.

2015/16 Expectations:

Become a physical force in the WHL. Break out as a prospect on the Seattle Thunderbirds. Adjust to North American hockey.

Quotes:

“I am a power forward who skates well and plays a physical game combined with making smart plays with the puck. I will go to the net, catch up rebounds and be a threat in the offensive zone as well as I will be reliable in the defensive zone.” – Gustav Olhaver

Source: http://www.seattlethunderbirds.com/article/qanda-with-gustav-olhaver

“I was at home following the draft on TV and hoped to get my name called up. Suddenly it happened and it was a dream coming true. Avalanche has always been one of my favorite teams in the league and I was very happy with them selecting me.” – Gustav Olhaver

Source: http://www.seattlethunderbirds.com/article/qanda-with-gustav-olhaver

A special thanks goes to the media people who watched these players, the scouts who spent all season

watching these players along with great fans and all those with great insight ion HFBoards which includes

posters TV, TMV, henchman, RS, SEPH, and others who know who they are.

 

 

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Colorado Avalanche: Free Agent Frenzy Review

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

The Frenzy that is the first day of free agency has come and gone and was not nearly as frenzied as it has been over the past couple of seasons. A day that has become famous for absurd contract terms and ridiculous salary numbers was downright reasonable today. There were a few numbers out there that seemed a bit out of whack but, all in all, today was pretty reasonable.

As for the Colorado Avalanche, they were active early in the day and signed two players to join what is going to be a very different looking lineup for next season. Here is a brief recap of the action today and the two newest additions to the Colorado Avalanche

Francois Beauchemin – D – 3 years, $4.5 Million Cap Hit

The first action of the day from the Colorado Avalanche came barely 20 minutes into the signing windows when Colorado signed Francois Beauchemin to a three year contract that will count $4.5 millions against the salary cap. Beauchemin just turned 35 years old and led the Anaheim Ducks in ice time during the regular season (22:44 per game) and in the playoffs (25:24 per game).

His stat-line last season was a career high 11 goals, 12 assists and +17 in the regular season. In the playoffs, Beauchemin played all 16 games for the Ducks and logged 9 assists.

During the conference call from the Colorado Avalanche, Joe Sakic was said that Beauchemin was the player the Avalanche wanted from the beginning but weren’t sure would be available. Sakic said that they thought he was going to stay in Anaheim and were excited to get a player they know can play big minutes alongside Erik Johnson. Whether or not this is the long-term goal for for Beauchemin, especially with younger defensemen like Mason Geertsen, Chris Bigras, Duncan Siemens and now Nikita Zadorov, Beauchemin may end up sliding down the depth chart as the years come along.

Beauchemin brings leadership, experience and a solid defensive game to the team. He has a some offensive upside, though that is definitely not the top part of his game. He can be helpful on the power play unit, however, as he does have a cannon of a shot.

All in all, this is a pretty okay signing. Beauchemin is a legitimate NHL defenseman who is used to playing big minutes against difficult opponents. He’s definitely on the older side, which makes the three-year term something that isn’t very good. As long as they manage Beauchemin and the other upcoming prospects right, then this shouldn’t be a problem.

Blake Comeau – LW – 3 years, $2.4 Million Cap Hit

 

Blake Comeau was the second signing of the day for the Colorado Avalanche. Comeau fills a void that was left by Jamie McGinn’s departure as part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade. Comeau’s contract is also for three years and carries a salary cap hit of $2.4 million per season.

Comeau spent the past season with the Pittsburgh Penguins but has been a bit of a journeyman in his NHL career. The Colorado Avalanche will be his fifth team. He brings an energetic game filled with grit and a pretty decent offensive touch. Joe Sakic commented on Comeau’s versatility and ability to slide throughout the lineup whenever and wherever he is needed, very similar to Jamie McGinn. Sakic also noted that Comeau is capable of killing penalties.

His stat line in Pittsburgh last season was very good. He scored 16 goals and 15 assists during the regular season. Those are strong numbers for a third line player, which is the role he will most likely be filling in Denver. He was also +6 for the season.

This is a very low-risk contract for the Avalanche. Comeau is a player you never really have to worry about getting out there and working hard. Though his scoring may be a bit streaky from time to time, he is always ready to give the necessary energy and lay the body. At only 29 years old, Comeau definitely has some good years left. I like this addition very much and think Comeau will make a solid addition to the Avalanche team.

Add these actions together with all of the previous moves during draft week, and the Colorado Avalanche suddenly have a very different looking team heading into training camp. Should be exciting to see how everything will come together.

Colorado Avalanche Free Agency: Avalanche Sign Blake Comeau

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

The Colorado Avalanche continue with their free agent actions and have signed left winger Blake Comeau to a three-year contract with $2.4 million AAV. With the departure of Jamie McGinn and the already present need for the Avalanche to get more depth on the wings, especially in the bottom six, Blake Comeau fills a needs for the Avalanche.

Comeau is 6’1″, 202 lbs and is a left shot. The Avalanche will be the fifth team he has played for in his career and he has been a role-player pretty much everywhere he’s played. A bottom-six player to work hard, bring grit and grind. He had a very good offensive last season 16 goals, 15 assists for 31 points in 61 games.

Comeau will be a solid addition to the Avalanche bottom-six.

Colorado Avalanche Free Agency: Avalanche Sign Beauchemin

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Colorado Avalanche free agency gets under way in a hurry! In one of the first moves of the day, the Colorado Avalanche have signed veteran defenseman, Francois Beauchemin from the Anaheim Ducks. The contracts if for three years and there are no numbers released just yet.

Beauchemin led the Anaheim Ducks in ice time a season ago with 22:44 each game. He had 11 goals, 23 assists and finished as a +17. Beauchemin does bring a solid 2-way game to the Avalanche, and some decent size at 6’1″ and 208 lbs. He has a bomb of a shot and can help the power play.

Depending on the money this can be an okay deal, but three years is definitely a lot more than you want to give a guy who is 35 years old. Still, he clearly has his conditioning under control and will hopefully bring leadership to the Avalanche blue line.

UPDATE:

Contract details for Beauchemin.

Colorado Avalanche Free Agency: 5 Potential Avalanche Targets

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the NHL Free Agent Frenzy, where teams toss dollars around more than the latest Michael Bay movie disaster. Teams look to lure the best to their team with hopes of making the right additions that will take their teams to the next level, wherever that may be. In Denver, the Colorado Avalanche free agency playbook holds more importance than many in the last few years.

It is no secret that the biggest mission for the Avalanche in free agency is to improve their defense, something coach Patrick Roy already alluded to. This has partially been addressed through the Ryan O’Reilly trade with the acquisition of hulking defenseman Nikita Zadorov. While this move definitely helps, more reinforcements will be needed which the Colorado Avalanche should be able to address in free agency.

The other thing the Ryan O’Reilly trade did was free up a lot more cap space. So much so that the Avalanche may be able to address some depth issues at forward, as well. Here are some targets for the Colorado Avalanche free agency frenzy!

Andrej Sekera

No surprise here, we’ve been lusting after Sekera for a long time and it seems unlikely that he and the L.A. Kings are going to be able to work out an extension.

Granted, this tweet was from before all the craziness with Mike Richards and the Kings’ sudden termination of his contract yesterday, but it still is sounding like Sekera is going to hit the market.

Sekera is the top defenseman in this year’s free agent class, so count on a lot of teams to be interested in him and to see a lot of dollars thrown his way. Fortunately for the Avalanche, with the added salary cap space, they should be able to be as aggressive as anybody else hoping to land the 29 year old blue-liner.

Johnny Oduya

 

Sarah A. | Flickr

Sarah A. | Flickr

Johnny Oduya is a bit older than Sekera, who will be 34 at the start of next season, but he brings a ton of championship experience with him. He may have been a second-pair player on the Blackhawks, but he played an average of 27 minutes a night during this year’s Stanley Cup run and is the picture of a solid defenseman. I would be confident with him playing next to Erik Johnson knowing that he can handle the work-load, and knowing how calm he is under pressure.

It is also known that Oduya is not going to wait for Chicago to work out their salary cap situation, and is going to test free agency. He is definitely a little bit older than you would want, but his presence would be a calming one on this defensive core.

Brandon Saad

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Sticking with the division rival Blackhawks, Brandon Saad presents one of the most intriguing options in free agency. Saad is a restrcited free agent, and I know I just wrote a whole thing about how the Avalanche are probably not going to use an offer sheet, but if there’s a situation where one makes sense it is right here.

Chicago is very cap-strapped and has just barely over $7 million in cap space. Saad reportedly wants a long-term contract with $4 million or up, whereas Chicago wants to get him signed to a bridge deal.

If a team were to sign Saad to an offer sheet worth $4.5 million, Chicago would be in a real bind. It seems far more likely that Chicago would be able to work out a more team-friendly deal with Marcus Kruger and would have to let Saad walk. Plus, at $4.5 million, the compensation would be next year’s first and third-round draft picks in what is being considered a less-than-stellar draft class.

This is a risky move for the Avalanche to make, though. It’s a big risk because Chicago has a week to decide whether or not they can match Saad’s contract, which might spur them into motion on trading Patrick Sharp, which would definitely get them the necessary cap space. Plus, if they take the whole week to match and the Avalanche haven’t had an insurance policy in place for Saad, it’s possible they get left out to dry with any players that remain. If this is a move the Avalanche are seriously considering, I would be more likely to just call Chicago and offer them a trade for his rights with the picks they would get as compensation anyways. It would expedite the process and put the Avalanche in charge of the situation.

UPDATE – Brandon Saad has been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets

Justin Williams

The Avalanche have always had some issues with depth on the wing, and Justin Williams would improve that depth and is versatile enough to fit in the lineup wherever you really need him. He also brings some excellent championship experience with him and the ability to just score big goals. Never a bad thing to have a guy whose nickname is “Mr. Game 7.”

Greg Campbell

slidingsideways | Flickr

slidingsideways | Flickr

This would hardly be a sexy pickup by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be a good pickup to solidify the forwards in the Avalanche bottom-six. Campbell is a good defensive forward that can occasionally contribute offensively and has a bit of an edge to his game. He’s feisty, can create havoc and is defensively responsible. If you aren’t really certain about the status of Jesse Winchester and don’t want to have to go down the Marc-Andre Cliche route again, Campbell could be a good depth addition. He is also fairly durable, having played fewer than 70 games twice in the last nine season. One of those was the lockout-shortened year where he played in all 48 games.

 

Colorado Avalanche Free Agency: Offer Sheets Unlikely

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

During NHL Draft week, the Colorado Avalanche free agency picture took on a much different look than it had coming into things. After a bit of wheeling and dealing, the Colorado Avalanche now have roughly $16 million of cap space to play with going into free agency and a full stock of draft picks for the 2016 NHL season. The latter part of these trades opened up an avenue to the Colorado Avalanche that has rarely been a part of their repertoire when it comes to free agency, the offer sheet. That being said, while this avenue is now open, I am doubtful the Avalanche will use it.

What Is An Offer Sheet?

Offer sheets are contract offers given to restricted free agents. Now, what is a restricted free agent? I spell that out in my Hockey 101 article on the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents.

Restricted free agents are players that have fewer than seven years of accrued seasons (language used in the CBA) AND is younger than the age of 27 as of June 30th of the end of a league year. So, if a player is 26 years old, but has been playing in the NHL since they were 18, they do NOT qualify as a restricted free agent because they have more than seven years of NHL experience.

In order to be given an offer sheet, a player has already been tendered a qualifying offer from their current team. What is a qualifying offer? Well, here ya go!

A qualifying offer is essentially an offer of a one-year contract and must be tendered by June 25th or by the first Monday following the NHL Entry Draft.

The player has four options after receiving this offer. They may sign the qualifying offer and accept it as a one-year contract; they may elect salary arbitration (something the team may do as well) where a neutral third party will hear salary requests from both the player and the team and then determine a one-year agreement; they may negotiate a new contract with the team; or they may test the market and potentially sign an offer sheet from a new team.

The other thing that comes with restricted free agents is compensation going the other way if the current team chooses not to match the offer, which they have seven days to do. Here is the compensation chart from Elliott Freidman.

Average annual value Compensation
Less than $1,205,377 Nothing
$1,205,377-to-$1,826,328 Third-round pick
$1,826,328-to-$3,652,659 Second-round pick
$3,652,659-to-$5,478,986 First and third-round picks
$5,478,986-to-$7,305,316 First, second and third-round picks
$7,305,316-to-$9,131,645 Two firsts, a second and third-round picks
$9,131,645 or greater Four first-round picks

 

Now, these are important because now, after draft week, the Avalanche have all the necessary draft picks to be able to send away should they offer sheet a player and have the offer sheet not be matched.

Who Might They Offer Sheet?

After draft weekend, the player that everybody immediately started talking about pursuing, especially after he was traded, was Dougie Hamilton. Top-tier defenseman, would really solidify things on the blue line, plus it would be a nice way to stick it to Calgary for offer sheeting Ryan O’Reilly a couple of years ago. This speculation was only fueled by the news that Colorado was close to acquiring Hamilton at the draft.

Vladimir Tarasenko is another player that people have been mentioning for an offer sheet, despite the fact that St. Louis has made it very clear they will match any offer sheet that comes his way. This one always seemed to be less serious and more a way of fans wanting to seriously cap strap the Blue by forcing them to commit a ton of money for a ton of years to one guy. Tempting, sure, but highly unlikely.

Carl Hagelin was certainly an intriguing name for quite a while, especially when it became clear that the Rangers were having issues re-signing him. These hopes were dashed a bit at the draft, as well, when Hagelin’s rights were traded to the Anaheim Ducks, who have plenty of cap room.

Why An Offer Sheet Is Unlikely

Now I should make this clear, this is just my opinion and gut feeling based off of how the team has operated in the past, comments on similar situations and the players available. Could it happen? Sure, my simple feeling is that it won’t and here’s why.

First off, the Colorado Avalanche have never offer sheeted a player. Ever. Not once. Even as far back as when they were the Quebec Noridques, they’ve never done it. It has just never been a route they’ve followed. Now, with a newer regime that has brought some newer, outside faces into the fray it is possible that this could change. I’m not so sure that it will.

Second, the offer sheet is a very infrequently used tool throughout the league. Mostly because GMs really hate it and seemingly have some kind of unspoken agreement about the use of it. It doesn’t stop some GMs from using it as it is completely legal under NHL rules, but just look at how people respond when it’s used. Remember Greg Sherman’s thoughts on the Flames after Ryan O’Reilly’s offer sheet? (At about the 2:05 mark)

 

“If that’s the way they want to do their business, that’s their right.” Not exactly mud-slinging, but hardly a ringing endorsement of the use of an offer sheet. Kind of like when somebody says to you, “So it’s like that?” The Ryan O’Reilly offer sheet is actually the last one to happen in the NHL. It just doesn’t happen very often and, when it does, it is not generally received very well.

Third, if Dougie Hamilton really was the main target, an offer sheet isn’t going to get him. Calgary has $21 million in cap space and just made the trade to get him. They want him and they’re going to match whatever offer comes his way. If the Colorado Avalanche really did want to target Hamilton with an offer sheet, their hope pretty much went out the window the second Boston traded him away.

Fourth, depending on the compensation going the other way, they could essentially be sending away half of a next year’s draft picks to a team. According to Elliott Freidman, Dougie Hamilton is looking for a contract in the range of $7.5 million a season. If the Avalanche were to get him at that rate, based on the compensation required, the Avalanche would be required to send Calgary two first-round picks, plus a second and third-round pick. If the Avalanche were able to get him to agree to a lower deal, say $7 million a year, the Avalanche would still be sending next season’s first, second and third round picks. For a team that is still looking to build its organizational depth, it doesn’t seem prudent to be sending away the entire first half your draft.

Conclusion

After an active week at the draft, there is no doubt that the Colorado Avalanche could be set up very well to use offer sheets as part of their free agency strategy. They have more cap room and they have a full stock of draft picks for the necessary compensation. Still, the Avalanche have never used offer sheets in the past, there is a definite stigma surrounding the use of offer sheets in the NHL, the best targets seem unlikely to obtain and the price might simply be too high for Colorado’s long-term goal of building better organizational depth. So while it is a possibility, I don’t see the offer sheet being used as a tool in the Colorado Avalanche free agency playbook.

Colorado Avalanche Free Agency: Defense A Priority

cropped-Burg_Brig_Logo5.jpg

 

The Colorado Avalanche had a phone conference today to discuss the state of the team, the Ryan O’Reilly situation, the upcoming draft and free agency. As is the case in most of these types of conferences, there isn’t much that is actually said. GMs and front office types have mastered the art of speaking for 3 minutes straight and still saying nothing. In another world they would likely make fantastic politicians. Nonetheless, despite the large amount of non-details, we were able to glean something! Specifically, where the Colorado Avalanche plan to look during free agency!

Defensemen to play in the top-4 has definitely been a large need. So now that we know the Avalanche will be targeting left-handed players, in specific, let’s look where the matches my lie in the Colorado Avalanche free agency search.

Andrej Sekera

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

2014 – 2015 Team: Los Angeles Kings/Carolina Hurricanes
Age: 29
Previous Cap Hit: $2.75 million

Andrej Sekera has been a target of my lusting by many Avalanche fans throughout the season as a trade target, as well. Smooth skater, good passer and, though he didn’t do it much in L.A., is capable of playing big minutes. Good two-way defender.

Andrej Meszaros

 

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

2014 – 2015 Team: Buffalo Sabres
Age: 29
Previous Cap Hit: $4.125 million

Not known as much for his defensive ability, Meszaros averaged less than 18 minutes of ice-time per game with the Sabres this past season. Meszaros likely isn’t the best solution for the Avalanche, but could be an okay option if they aren’t able to land others.

Johnny Oduya

Sarah A. | Flickr

Sarah A. | Flickr

2014 – 2015 Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Age: 33
Previous Cap Hit: $3.375 million

Johnny Oduya just added another Stanley Cup championship to his resume, and would bring a wealth of experience with him. He’s an incredibly solid defenseman who skates well and never gets rattled. He is 33, which means we have likely seen his best hockey already, but Oduya would be a huge upgrade over most of the current defensive corps. His experience in Chicago likely will drive his price up a bit, but the fact that he’s 33 might not let it go up too high. If there’s one guy who could step into the top pair right away, it could be him. He played a bit more than 20 minutes every game during the regular season, but played 24 minutes a game during the playoffs. Nothing wrong with his conditioning.

Christian Ehrhoff

Dinur | Flickr

Dinur | Flickr

2014 – 2015 Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Age: 32
Previous Cap Hit: $4 million

Ehrhoff took a gamble during the past offseason. Rather than take a longer-term deal with teams, he took a one-year contract to play in Pittsburgh and re-establish his value. Sadly, Ehrhoff only played in 49 games this past season. He played well, scoring 14 points and averaging almost 22 minutes each game. His season was cut short with concussion issues, so Ehrhoff could be a bit of a gamble. If he is 100% again, though, he could be an asset to the Avalanche blue line.

For the Colorado Avalanche, free agency is going to be a big challenge. The Avalanche have needs to fill and are in a place where they aren’t totally positive if some of the younger players in the system will be able to step in and fill the void. There is a lot of hope in the long term with many of the young players coming up, especially on the defensive side of things, but if there is hope for immediate improvement, then the Avalanche are going to have to use free agency wisely.

 

Any other defensemen the Avalanche should target? Mention them in the comments below.

Money Talks: Colorado Avalanche Salary Breakdown

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost over, and all hockey minds and wannabes alike are in full general manager mode. People are all speculating about the draft first and foremost, but also if/when the blockbuster trades take place, who should go and why. I include myself in this grouping.

Now since the Avs are the only team worth improving, let’s take a look at the players being paid by Kroenke&co. Here is the 2015 Colorado Avalanche salary breakdown.

The Good Ol' Boys

*All salary numbers pulled from our friends at generalfanager.com*

FORWARDS

Matt Duchene – UFA ’19/’20, Annual Cap Hit: $6,000,000

Matt Duchene is arguably the face behind the #AvsNewAge or whatever the heck Avs PR wants to call it, and is Colorado Avalanche personified. There were whispers toward the end of last season that any one of the 3 young guns get traded (Duchene, Landeskog, O’Reilly). His contract expires in the ’19 season, and while the Avs may have had a poor ’14/’15 campaign, Matt Duchene added to his resume with that shiny ring you see there. He’s one Stanley Cup away from the triple gold club at 24 years of age, and he has 4 more seasons on contract to get it.

 

Ryan O’Reilly – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $6,000,000

Has Ryan O'Reilly played his last game as an Av?

The enigma of the Burgundy Brigade, Ryan O’Reilly is easily the Avs’ biggest gambling chip. Recent reports from Elliotte Friedman confirm that the front office is listening to trade offers proposed to them. Shipping O’Reilly for defense may not shave a whole lot of cap space, considering the calibre of player they seek, but you need to risk it for the biscuit. O’Reilly has proven he’s as capable a 2-way player as anybody in the league and believes he’s earned the paycheque. He can solidify any team’s top-6, Sakic has a major gamble on his hands whether Ryan stays or goes.

 

Gabriel Landeskog – UFA ’20/’21, Annual Cap Hit: $5,571,428

Cap’n Landy is locked up for the foreseeable future, and for good reason. He learned a lot from Jarome Iginla this year, especially when he was called upon to deliver statistically. Although you can tell he’s still working out the kinks of captainship, his heart is in it, and that’s what truly matters in a leader.

 

Jarome Iginla – UFA ’17/’18, Annual Cap Hit: $5,333,333

One of the aging mages of the NHL, Iginla proved last year he still has his scoring touch posting 29 goals this season. His salary may be a little steep, but he only has two seasons left on contract, and has yet to lift Lord Stanley’s chalice. Iginla is a warrior of a competitor so expect to see him give everything he can in these next couple seasons. It’s a good time to be an Avs fan.

 

Danny Briere – UFA

Sorry to say it, but good riddance. It was nice to see him score a few clutch goals for us early on, but he can’t weather a full 82 game season anymore. The money from his salary will go to good use.

 

Alex Tanguay – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $3,500,000

Alex Tanguay was a giant question mark entering the season, but after putting together a campaign where he essentially carried the team early on, he has regained the faith from fans and Sakic alike. He showed glimpses of the Tanguay from the ’00/’01 Cup run with silky smooth hands and unparalleled vision. Although he may be 35 years old, he and Iginla have at least 1 or 2 years left to help usher in the new wave of Avs.

 

Jamie McGinn – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $2,950,000

The good ol’ Fergus, Ontario boy didn’t play a whole lot last season, and he has proven over the past two seasons he is injury prone. He just signed his 2-year contract last summer, so having burned through the first year makes this upcoming season that much more crucial. His name has surfaced the trading block, but his lack of playing time doesn’t make him all that attractive. Look for him to come out flying (as fast as McGinn can) at the season start. At 29 years old, he will hopefully be looking at one or two more contracts before he hangs ’em up. Whether or not it’s with the Avs is unknown.

 

Patrick Bordeleau – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $1,000,000

Bordeleau is a giant. Having him on the roster make us look about 20% tougher on paper. As I touched on last article, the age of the bare-knuckle brawler is over. Bordeleau may have a limited resume, but in his 83 games played, he has 6 goals. Now this may not scream anything more than “MEDIOCRE!”, but Bordeleau actually has fairly soft hands and commendable hockey I.Q. At $1,000,000 annually, a healthy Bordeleau is a lock for the bottom-6.

 

Nathan MacKinnon – RFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $925,000

Nate MacKinnon is only 19 years old. He’s barely old enough to crack a beer in Canada, and he’s already touted as one of the next superstars of the game. This season will be the final of his entry level contract, and after last year, MacKinnon is going to look to redeem himself. Similar to Stamkos, MacKinnon experienced a frustrating “sophomore slump”. MacKinnon tore up the World Tournament this off-season with his 3 other Avalanche teammates, and showed the world his potential when he wiped his arse with the Minnesota Wild before their heartbreaking playoff exit (sorry to pick scabs). Building confidence moving forward will be the key to his success. Whether or not MacKinnon signs a bridge deal or long-term is all dependent on his ’15 season.

 

Jesse Winchester – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $900,000

Winchester was signed this past off-season, and failed to play a single game. He dealt with concussion issues all summer, but was ready to play just as the Avs were eliminated from contention. He is touted as a faceoff specialist and shorthanded player, which is exactly what we are paying Marc-Andre Cliche to do. Hopefully we get to see him in action, and hopefully he can replace Cliche.

 

Joey Hishon – RFA

Hishon the Magician finally got to play some NHL hockey this year, and he impressed. In his limited role of about 6-8 minutes a game, he was noticeable on ice almost every shift he played. His first goal was a game winner, but more importantly it was a symbolization of all he’s had to overcome to get to this point in his career. His entry-level contract is expired now, but he was plagued with concussion issues since the vicious McNabb hit in the Memorial Cup (see the hit here). I would love to see him re-signed with all my heart, and utilized in an elevated role.

 

Marc-Andre Cliche – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $700,000

Thinking about Cliche hurts my brain. Cliche has the praise of coach Roy somehow, but in all the games I saw him play, he maybe led the rush once or twice. As a defensive specialist his paycheque is attractive, but he has 4 goals total (2 were fluky) and seems like a liability most times he is on the ice. In my opinion, he could be easily replaced by Hishon, Winchester, or any AHL centreman in our system. Cliche could be a useful trade piece for a team needing bottom-6 depth.

 

Freddie Hamilton – RFA

Acquired at the trade deadline, Hamilton was used in a few different roles, and played with heart every shift in his stint with the Avs. I personally liked him as a third line guy, and seeing how thin our winger depth is, I wouldn’t hate if we extended him. Can’t imagine more than $1,500,000.

 

Dennis Everberg – RFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $612,500

The Flow Monster: Dennis Everberg

“Who the hell is Dennis Everberg?!”

Everberg was a European prospect hand picked and brought overseas, thrown into a North American style game, and was tenacious as anybody in the entire facility. The soft spoken Swede didn’t have very great numbers, but realistically nobody outside the crease did. Hopefully Everberg’s shoulder injury won’t halt his development, Everberg has the potential to evolve into one of the most effective energy players in the league. At just over half a million annually for the next two seasons, he may just be the biggest bargain on the roster.

 

Jordan Caron – RFA

Acquired this off-season with Freddie Hamilton, Caron failed to post a single point in 30 games with Colorado and Boston. A former 1st round pick now bust (yes, he IS a bust), I don’t expect him to earn an extension. Although his cap hit was low, keeping him on the roster would be robbing a younger promising prospect their chance.

 

DEFENSE

Erik Johnson – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $3,750,000

Prior to the All-Star break, Johnson was playing some of the best hockey of his career. A mainstay on the Avalanche blue line, he is the foundation of our back end and deserves compensation for the role he plays. He may have earned his raise, but his durability and ability to replicate a season such as last remains a mystery. I wouldn’t expect elite-level pay, but he’s pretty damn close. Excellent bang for our buck.

 

Brad Stuart – UFA ’17/’18, Annual Cap Hit: $3,600,000

Locked up for 3 seasons before he’d even played a game, one of the worst Corsi players in the league will remain a liability for the Avs. Stuart used to be a stalwart on defense in his prime, but that time has come and gone like a distant memory. He absorbs shots and clears rebounds, but that’s basically it. At just over $3.5 million per year, that money could be used on a true top-4 defender.

I hate this contract.

 

Jan Hejda – UFA

A true blue collar workhorse, Jan Hejda has given everything he could these past few years. His game is the opposite of flashy, but he played his role as a shutdown defender and played it well. Most expect him to retire, and his freed cap space will be much needed this off-season.

This Bud is for you, Jan. Thanks for the service.

 

Tyson Barrie – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $2,600,000

Barrie has taken the NHL by storm since his resurgence last season, and everybody is beginning to take notice. An integral part of the IIHF World Champion team and one of the most fluid skaters in the roster and an undeniable powerplay quarterback, his offensive acumen is not to be taken lightly. His current deal is a bridge, so if he continues to exceed expectations, expect him to earn Erik Johnson-esque money.

 

Nick Holden – UFA ’18/’19, Annual Cap Hit: $1,650,000

Babyface Nick Holden taking warmups

Nick Holden had a marvelous ’13/’14 season which earned him his beefy contract extension. A shadow on the powerplay, Holden has the ability to creep into the play to add an outlet on the backdoor. This past season saw Holden fall back to Earth, but he is solid in a bottom-4 role. With some promising talent working their way into the pro ranks, his roster spot may be in jeopardy along with a few others.

 

Nate Guenin – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $800,000

The stiff-arming, turnover master is locked up for another year. Ughhhhh when will the torture end??

Although he may get a good majority of the flack, I must say at less than $1 million we really shouldn’t be asking too much of the guy. He is a gritty son-of-a-gun in the corners, and speaks fairly well on camera. So at least there’s that.

 

Zach Redmond – UFA ’16/’17, Annual Cap Hit: $750,000

Redmond played most of last season with the Avs and managed to post 20 points. Although he may have some glaring blunders trying to be cute in his own zone, Redmond did do a formidable job leading the rush and connecting with his outlet passes. Redmond got to dress for team U.S.A at the IIHF Tournament, so you can add international play to his resume. Here’s hoping he comes back to camp with the same quality of play, we’re gonna need it.

 

I am so sorry, I am not sure how the dear Highlander Cody McLeod slipped my mind. My sincerest appologies.

Cody McLeod UFA ’18/’19 – Annual Cap Hit: $1,333,333

The Gap Toothed Wonder

Our favorite ginger is signed until the ripe age of 33/34, and for such little money you can’t help but love everything he brings to the team. His penalty minutes have no limit, but the older he gets you’d have to imagine he gives his knuckles a rest a bit. Roy elevated him on the powerplay in an homage to Doug Glatt, placing his big butt right in front of the goalie’s face. As much as we all may love the guy, let’s admit that Cody McLeod and powerplay shouldn’t be placed in the same sentence. He can score the nice greasy goal when we need it, so when the lineup is healthy, I love where Cody Mac lies.

 

GOALIES

Semyon Varlamov – UFA ’19/’20, Annual Cap Hit: $5,900,000source: avalanche.nhl.com

Semyon Varlamov is the primary reason why this team has been considered even a playoff bubble team the past 2 seasons. Patrick Roy, but essentially Francois Allaire working in tandem with Varlamov has helped him elevate his play to elite level status. This season saw him set the record for saves in a shutout win with 54, but also had recurring groin issues again. Reto Berra was a less than worthy backup at the start of the season, so if the Avs hope to get longevity out of Varlamov, Berra will need to step up his game. Semyon Varlamov is a true competitor, and will do whatever he can to lead us to a cup.

 

Reto Berra – UFA ’17/’18, Annual Cap Hit: $1,450,000

Another preemptive signing before he’d even played a game, Reto Berra will be entering his second season wearing the A. Assuming he is as talented as his end of season showing dictated, then there may be hope yet for the Swiss goaltender. He is also working with Allaire, but Roy has publicly scrutinized his efforts in practice. That is not a good sign. Calvin Pickard gave him a run for his money, posting incredible stats while in the NHL. Since Reto was signed to this goofy contract, the Avs were forced to keep him. Calvin Pickard looks like he could even be a potential starter sometime soon. Avs brass has a lot of thinking to do concerning their backup goalies.

Conclusion

According to generalfanager, the breakdown of revenue spent on contracts by position is: 53% forwards, 19% defense, 10% goalies, spending a total of $58,725,000 with a hair under $11,000,000 in cap space. It’s interesting to note that Colorado retained about $875,000 of Max Talbot’s salary when he got traded to the Bruins. When reflecting on the issues that have afflicted the Avalanche for the past handful of seasons, it becomes clear that their money isn’t being spent as efficiently as it could be. Most teams would ideally have more allocated on quality defense, and that is exactly what everybody is expecting to happen this off-season. Whether it be through the draft or trades, Sakic and Roy have openly stated they want an upgraded defensive corps. There are a handful of RFAs in the minors, so keep an eye on small contracts throughout the summer.

I’ll be keeping my eye on the big Kahunas out in free agency.

 

Colorado Avalanche: Ryan O’Reilly Saga to Come to a Head

5of7 | Flickr

5of7 | Flickr

5. 5 years in the league. 5 days until the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly will meet on opposite sides of an arbitrator’s room to try and hash out his contract. 5 days until we see which side wins the latest version of “No, THIS is your value!” What all Avalanche fans hoped would be a simple discussion between two parties interested in keeping together what is clearly a team on the rise has degenerated into little more than what you might see during Days of Our Lives.

The Avalanche Side

The Colorado Avalanche definitely put themselves in a tough spot starting with the last time we went through this ridiculous contract dispute. Back in the days of Sherman and Lacroix running the show, the Avalanche went with their familiar “This is our offer and you will take it or else nothing will get done” mode of negotiating. When O’Reilly didn’t take it, and waited things out, the Avalanche got backed into a corner when the offer sheet came by. The cap hit of $5 million a year was more than they wanted to pay, but was the least of their troubles. We’re here today because of the last season of O’Reilly’s contract, which paid him $6.5 million.

According to the collective bargaining agreement, since O’Reilly is a restricted free agent, the Avalanche would have to give him a qualifying offer of $6.5 million in order to retain his negotiating rights. I understand the Avalanche not wanting to do that, so electing arbitration early was a predictable move on their part. The fact that they hadn’t done much since in terms of trying to work a deal out afterwards, they literally went several weeks without talking by Joe Sakic’s own admission, was much more puzzling.

At any rate, from the point of view of the Avalanche, what do they owe O’Reilly? Yes, he had a fantastic season, but this is O’Reilly’s second ever season over 50 points. First time he’s broken 20 goals in his career. Plus, the last time he had a good season, he dragged the team through a contract debacle because he thought he was too good for a bridge contract despite the fact he had never produced more than 30 points prior to that one good season. So from the the point of view of the Colorado Avalanche, I understand being a bit slow to back the money truck up to O’Reilly’s door-step.

Also, Mile High Sports Avalanche beat writer, Ryan Boulding, made a few extra very interesting comments regarding O’Reilly on the latest edition of the South Stands Denver Fancast, link here. Long story short, Boulding makes the point about how O’Reilly, who is supposedly very well-liked in the locker room, might not be quite the leader he seems to be. Sure, he does neat drills after practice and has that rink-rate mentality, but when it’s time to step up and be the “ambassador for the team,” as Boulding says, it’s never O’Reilly doing it. His full comments can be heard in the second segment of their show. Great stuff, go listen!

Ryan O’Reilly’s Side

It’s easy to see why O’Reilly would be frustrated with the Avalanche as well. This is the second time that O’Reilly has had a career season during a contract year and it is now the second time the team is putting up a fight in paying him. You know his dad and his agent are both in his ear saying to him, “A team that really values the stuff that you are bringing to them wouldn’t do this kind of garbage. They haven’t fully valued you in the past, don’t now and probably never will.”

That might also start to make sense to O’Reilly. I mean, first off, they didn’t make him captain when he was clearly a fan favorite to get the C. They gave it to a kid in his second season, before he had even started playing his second season! Then they took him through a long and drawn out contract dispute. Then, after he had another career season, we get going with all of this again! When are they going to be convinced that Ryan O’Reilly (I am imaging him speaking in the third person at this point) is worth a big pay day?

At this point, O’Reilly may have already decided, and his agent hinted at it strongly right after the Avalanche elected arbitration, he might put it all in cruise control for the remaining time he has with the Avalanche. Go year-to-year until he’s unrestricted and go to a team that will appreciate him. Of course, all while saying the right things in public just like Paul Stastny did up to the moment where the truck driver asked him “Where to I drop this huge pile of money?” on his way out of town.

Arbitration

There is a way to do this without having too many feelings hurt, but at this point it hardly seems like either side is likely to pull punches. At this point, the Avalanche and O’Reilly’s camp will meet the arbitrator. Both sides will give the contract number they want and provide justification. Then the arbitrator will decide a number. Since the team elected arbitration, O’Reilly can choose one or two years for the contract, but must do so BEFORE the arbitration hearing, he can’t hear the number and then decide.

These can get ugly, there are stories of players coming out of arbitration hearings crying because of what the team said about them. It’s hard to imagine teams and players ever really being able to go beyond that. The only time I have seen it happen is with Shea Weber and the Predators, who are only still together because Nashville matched that insane offer sheet from the Flyers. Hopefully it won’t get to it, but I imagine the scenes in these arbitration hearings end up looking something like this.

 

What Happens In the End?

I think that I can safely say that I am one of the most positive voices surrounding the Colorado Avalanche in the local media and blogosphere. It’s just who I am, I tend to see the glass as half-full and think the team and players should be able to work things out. At this point, the only way I see O’Reilly staying with the Avalanche long-term is if he gets offer sheeted after next season to a huge contract that the Avalanche decide to match. I just don’t see it happening. He may be in burgundy and blue for one more season, but at this point the writing is on the wall, he’ll be gone at some point.

Whether the Avalanche are smart enough to get rid of him and get something for him will be the big question. It would be noble to try and get a long-term extension done and try to mend fences, but at this point it’s pretty clear that Ryan O’Reilly and his camp speak one language, money. The Avalanche have a structure, and aren’t going to break the bank unless O’Reilly goes out and shows he’s worth more than what the other leaders on the team are taking. At this point, I’m not sure he’s done that beyond a reasonable doubt, the only thing he has shown for sure is that, every single time he has a new contract to work out, it’ll just be a large pain in everybody’s ass. Is that the kind of guy you want to have around?

Colorado Avalanche: Analyzing Colorado’s Free Agency Moves

The free agent frenzy certainly has been interesting for the Colorado Avalanche. They have added players and lost one very important one. So after the dust has settled, how do the Avalanche look as a team moving forward? Let’s have a look at each move.

P.A. Parenteau Traded to Montreal for Danny Briere

Lady Neat | Flickr

Lady Neat | Flickr

The Avalanche traded P.A. Parenteau and a fifth-round draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Danny Briere. The writing was pretty much on the wall for Parenteau after last season, and it was no surprise to see him moved as he would have been out of the top 6 this season. Montreal gives him a chance to play a top 6 role on a pretty darn good team.

Danny Briere gives the Avalanche more depth and versatility at forward. He isn’t a spring chicken by any stretch of the imagination, but Briere is still shifty and has great hands. I would count on him falling into the third line and also logging power play time. Briere also has the experience and versatility to slide into any line should there be injury issues. He’s a solid addition.

Avalanche Acquire Brad Stuart from San Jose Sharks

Dinur | Flickr

Dinur | Flickr

On July 1st, the Avalanche traded a 2nd round draft pick in 2016 and a sixth round draft pick in 2017 to the San Jose Sharks for Brad Stuart. Rather than overpay crazily on the likes of Orpik or Niskanen, the Avalanche may have slightly overpaid for Brad Stuart, which I can live with. Stuart is a veteran defenseman who plays with a physical edge.

Despite everybody saying the defense needed to get more experienced and more physical, people still managed to find a way to complain about this trade. No, Stuart is not a very young player, but it isn’t like the guy is taking his walker out to the rink with him. Stuart is 34 years old, so let’s cool it with the “broken down old defenseman” talk. That’s just plain silly.

Avalanche Sign Jesse Winchester

There isn’t a ton of information available on Jesse Winchester, but the basic gist for him is that he’s a depth forward that will fight it out with Marc-Andre Cliche for fourth line minutes. He’ll take some face-offs and play the PK, solid fourth line guy to shore up some forward depth.

Avalanche Sign Zach Redmond

Zach Redmond is essentially going to play the “Nick Holden role” according to Joe Sakic. A solid defenseman that can add in some offensive numbers on a low-risk, high-reward contract is fine by me.

Avalanche Sign Bruno Gervais

I know very little about Bruno Gervais, other than he was part of the New York Islanders’ system. Likely another defenseman that will likely start the season in Lake Erie. The Avs’ system needs better defensive depth and Gervais can help to provide that.

Avalanche Sign Ben Street

Another low-risk depth signing for the Avalanche, Street scored almost 30 goals with the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat, last season. He’ll have a chance to show what he can do in camp, but likely will be a depth forward playing with Lake Erie at the start of the season. He does have some NHL experience, so he might be a good call-up.

Avalanche Lose Paul Stastny

The biggest negative for the Avalanche on free agent frenzy day was the loss of Paul Stastny. Stastny did a lot of heavy lifting for the Avalanche on the defensive side of things and was also a 60 point player. At the same time, the money given to Paul Stastny was simply too much. $7 million each season is too much money for Paul Stastny, and I’m fine with the Avalanche letting him go at that number.

Avalanche Sign Jarome Iginla

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Shortly after losing Paul Stastny, the Avalanche signed Jarome Iginla to a three-year contract with a cap hit just over $5 million. Solid replacement signing, though Iginla doesn’t take face-offs, but he will bring a lot of great leadership and character to a team that needs a guy with his experiences. Iginla is also not young, by any means, but he is still very capable and proved that by scoring 31 goals with the Bruins last season.

Overall, the Avalanche got marginally better, only because of the loss of Paul Stastny. With the loss of Stastny, the fact that the Avs didn’t get noticeably worse as a team is a testament to the other free agents the Avalanche were able to sign. It is possible they overpaid a bit for Brad Stuart, but this is another situation of “let’s see how it plays out before determining the Avalanche will be last place in the West again.” Yes, there were people saying that, and frankly they’re ridiculous for saying it.

No matter what team gets what player, no full judgments can be made until you see the teams play, but I like the moves the Avalanche made, all in all.