The Colorado Avalanche have qualified all of their restricted free agents except for forward Jordan Caron. Denver Post writer called Caron “pointless” in 19 games on Twitter, but when he meant was without points. (Though frankly the two are the same in this instance.)
In all, the Avalanche made qualifying offers to 10 players:
- Mikhail Grigorenko, center
- Joey Hishon, center
- Freddie Hamilton, center
- Mitchell Heard, center
- Tomas Vincour, center
- Andrew Agozzino, left wing
- Stefan Elliott, defenseman,
- Mat Clark, defenseman
- Sami Aittokallio, goalie
- Calvin Pickard, goalie
Qualifying offers are for one-year contracts. The player has the right to reject the offer, meaning he stays a restricted free agent who may sign an offer sheet. If a team makes an offer sheet, he can sign it, but the Colorado Avalanche have the right to match the offer within seven days.
In other words, see “beginning of the Ryan O’Reilly saga” in the annals of Avalanche history.
If the player hasn’t signed any qualifying offer or offer sheet by December 1, he’s ineligible to play in the NHL that season. There’s more involved in the nuts and bolts of RFAs, but those are the essential facts.
Making offer sheets is rare in the NHL anymore because of the salary cap. However, of those 10 players, only Mikhail Grigorenko and Tomas Vincour have spent any significant time in the NHL. Grigorenko spent 68 games over three seasons, and Vincour 95 games over five seasons.
Because of their experience, then, Grigorenko and Vincour seem the most likely to make the team for the 2015-16 season. Grigorenko is a good-sized player (6-foot-3, 209 pounds). He’s only scored 14 points in his 68 games, but he saw pretty limited ice time in his time with the Buffalo Sabres. He also has a history with head coach Patrick Roy, having been coached by Roy in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts.
Vincour had a good training camp and preseason with the Avalanche last year. However, Vincour got injured in a preseason game. He eventually made the team in November and December when Colorado started succumbing to injuries, but other players got the nod later in the season. In his seven games, he had just one assist.
Joey Hishon is the favored prospect among Avalanche fans. Colorado selected him 17th overall in the 2010 draft, but a vicious hit to the head derailed his development for nearly two years. He’s played in 13 regular season games for the Avalanche, all this last season. He earned two points, including his first-ever NHL goal (the game-winner, starts at 1:35):
Hishon also played in three games during the 2013-14 playoffs and earned an assist. Whether or not Hishon makes the lineup this year likely depends on how well he does in camp and the preseason.
Freddie Hamilton is another likely option. The Avalanche acquired him at the trade deadline in 2105. He reported to the AHL-affiliate Lake Erie Monsters first, but almost right away he got called up to the Avs. He played 18 games with the team and also scored his first NHL goal (also a game-winner):
Like with Hishon, his placement on the team likely depends on his preseason showing.
Heard, Aggozzino, Clark and Aittokallio have not played significantly in the NHL and are likely to remain most of the season with the Avalanche’s new AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.
I’m a little surprised Stefan Elliott received a qualifying offer. He’s actually seen some significant time in the NHL — 63 games. He has 18 points in those games. However, he doesn’t seem poised to crack the team’s roster. He played only five games in last year’s injury-addled season. I get the feeling Roy doesn’t consider Elliott to be NHL-caliber.
Of course, the other darling of the group besides Hishon is goalie Calvin Pickard. He played in 16 games last season and wowed Avalanche fans with his prowess. He recorded a .932 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average.
He seemed to make an impression on coach Roy as well. Roy said that training camp and the preseason are going to be a battle ground for Pickard and Reto Berra. The winner takes the position of backup to Semyon Varlamov.
The information in this post was based on Denver Post writer Mike Chambers’ information. Normally the beat writer for a team is a reliable source, but apparently he was off slightly on this one. Mitchell Heard and Tomas Vincour were not qualified by the Colorado Avalanche.
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