Colorado Avalanche: Evaluating The Missing Pieces Of The Puzzle


How about these playoffs?! I guess it’s time to suppress my inner Capitals fan, and let my passionate inner Colorado Avalanche fan loose. Until Sunday at least — Game 6 between Washington and New York is going to be a fun one. In the meantime, let’s examine a few missing pieces of the Colorado Avalanche puzzle.

When it comes to the offseason for the Colorado Avalanche, there are an abundance of articles out there to read, and countless opinions about who should be signed, and who should be let go. This one probably won’t be any different, so bear with me here. I love this Avalanche club as much as the next person, so naturally — like all of you — I am constantly evaluating things in my mind about what will make this team better. Do we need forwards? Do we need defense? Do we bite the bullet and trade away a star player to bring in some help on the blue line and try to round this team out? Answer those questions any way you please, but I’m about to share with you my evaluation and thoughts on what the Avalanche should do.

Offense Evaluation:
The Avalanche need grit. They have the speed to run rampant all over teams, so now they need some grit. Not just any grit though. They need a couple of guys who can come in on a 3rd or 4th line, and be able to park themselves in front of the net. Who would I like to see in an Avs sweater for this job? Nice of you to ask. Wayne Simmonds is my answer. It’s unrealistic — yes — but you get the point I’m chasing here. The dude gets the job done. Joffrey Lupul is a similar player who would be more affordable than Simmonds. These guys are all under contract with their current teams, so these would have to be trades, not free agent signings. I’ll mention which Free Agent forwards I’d like to see them go after in a future piece, but for now it’s all just evaluation.

Defense Evaluation:
When you look back on this past season, the defense wasn’t too bad. They may have allowed a lot of shots at times, but they blocked shots and clogged passing lanes. I’d like to see a better transition game from them though. They struggled with moving the puck out of the zone, and often got lazy when pressured. Erik Johnson was the best defenseman for the Avalanche this past season, and this next season is the last on his contract. He will be due for a pay raise for sure. A significant one. I could personally do without Nate Guenin, but I would love to see Zach Redmond stay with the Avs after this next season. He’s cheap, and does a decent job. Good enough to be named to Team USA in this year’s IIHF tournament. Redmond, EJ, and Guenin all have 1 year left before they become UFAs. Tyson Barrie also has one year left, but he will be restricted after next season. Expect him to be resigned for sure.

Crunching Numbers:

Here’s where things get tricky when talking about going out and getting things done in free agency. At first glance, the Avalanche have just over $11.5 million in cap space. But when you consider the fact that Nathan MacKinnon is due for a hefty extension after this upcoming season, that is going to decrease significantly. That’s not even factoring in EJ, Barrie, Tanguay, Redmond, or McGinn. Jamie McGinn and Alex Tanguay both have only one more year on their contracts. Danny Briere is unrestricted this summer, but from what I gathered at the end of the season, it is highly possible he retires. John Mitchell, and Jarome Iginla are signed up through the 2016-17 season, so we don’t really need to worry about them at the moment. Now we circle back around and talk about Ryan O’Reilly‘s contract. He has 1-year remaining, and will be making just above $6 million. If I remember right, the second year of that deal was $6.2 million to be exact. I guarantee Nasty Nate will be the highest paid player on the team after his deal is done, so that leaves little room to work with.

The Avalanche are in a difficult position when it comes to dishing out the right amount of money to the players who deserve it. A lot of you may not agree with it at the moment, but not having Stastny’s ridiculous contract does help quite a bit. That could be what makes this whole thing somewhat easier. In all honesty, this team is still behind the rest of the division when it comes to being a contender for Lord Stanley’s hardware, but a few moves here and there could propel them to that position. Don’t expect a big splash in free agency. Expect them to go after a few “rental” players. A couple 1-year contracts for a few guys who can help this team try and reach the playoffs. They’ll need to let a couple of guys walk in free agency, and a few trades will need to be made by the time the 2016-17 season begins. If done right, whoever they bring in could surprise us and help set the foundation for a future Colorado Avalanche championship.

Next: Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon Having Fun At IIHF Worlds

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