Colorado Avalanche: Possible Offseason Changes

Mar 26, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) looks up at the video board after giving up a power play goal to left wing Zach Parise (11) (not pictured) in the third period at the Pepsi Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) looks up at the video board after giving up a power play goal to left wing Zach Parise (11) (not pictured) in the third period at the Pepsi Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The offseason has begun for the Colorado Avalanche, and some big changes should be in store during the summer.

The Colorado Avalanche need change, it’s obvious. And it’s likely to come in a big way this offseason. So — over my next two posts (this one, and Saturday) — let’s take a look at some potential changes that could be made to ensure that a better team hits the ice next season.

I’ll start with the Avs roster for today, and highlight some players that might have seen their final games in an Avalanche uniform, as well as the benefits of trading them (i.e. cap space, what they could bring in, or if they would pave the way for some up and comers).

Avalanche Roster

Jarome Iginla

Even though this article says that Jarome Iginla “Plans to Return Next Season” to the Avalanche, Iginla actually only says that he plans to play next season, there is no specificity toward the Avalanche:

"I plan on playing (next season), no question. It’s been a challenging year for a number of reasons, but no, I feel good and I still enjoy it."

If he wants to win a cup before he retires from the league, which in all likelihood will be after next season, then he should work with management on finding a team that suits those needs.

Still — in the past — Iginla has been adamant that he does not want to leave Colorado, and he does have a no-movement clause that he would have to waive in order for the Avalanche to trade him.

However, Jarome Iginla brings with him a 5.3 mil cap hit next season, and the Colorado Avalanche are in need of some cap space to sign Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie, Mikkel Boedker, Shawn Matthias and Calvin Pickard.

He probably wouldn’t get the best return, but the Avalanche could expect a 2nd round draft pick, and a middling prospect or AHL player. The main reason they would trade Iginla is to make cap space.

And, like I said the man deserves a cup, and it’s not going to happen with the Avalanche next season unless by some miracle, so let’s move on.

Semyon Varlamov

Varly was inconsistent at best this season, and he certainly hasn’t looked like the goalie Avalanche fans saw in the 2013-14 season, in which he should have won the Vezina and maybe even the Hart Trophy.

Furthermore, that 2013-14 season is an outlier in his career. For the last five seasons, Varly has started in at least 53 games (besides the lockout shortened season) and has achieved 30 or more wins one time: 2013-14 when he had 41.

His next closest win total in that span is 28, and that was last season. In those five seasons, Varly has also had a .92 or higher save percentage twice, the 2013-14 season and last year. the other three seasons are in the low .91’s with one season at .903.

And don’t even get me started on his GAA, which was atrocious this year at 2.81, but has never been better than 2.41 in that five year span, also his magical 2013-14 season.

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Those sorts of numbers do not justify his 5.9 mil cap hit next season, and through the 2018-19 season. Plus, the Colorado Avalanche have a great young goaltender in Calvin Pickard, who will come at a much cheaper price.

Picks has a .927 save percentage, and 2.46 GAA in 36 career NHL games. His record in that time is 13-13-4 because he has played a few games in relief. Best of all, Pickard is only 24 years old.

Furthermore, if the Colorado Avalanche were to trade Semyon Varlamov say to Edmonton or Calgary, then they could probably get a defensemen out of the deal, either of the prospect variety, or one that is ready for the NHL next season.

Possible targets could be: T.J. Brodie or Oliver Kylington from the Flames, and Adam Clendening or Griffin Reinhart from the Oilers.  There could also be a draft pick in there if the deal is right.

Last one for today.

Matt Duchene

This one is tough for me because I really don’t want to see Duchene go, but it might be in the best interest of the Avalanche. He’s still young, and he’s coming off of a career year in goals (30), but a down year in points (59).

However, he has a 6 mil cap hit, and he’s signed through the 2018-19 season. He signed that contract after his career year of 70 points in 71 games in the 2013-14 season, and definitely deserved 6 mil then, perhaps even more.

Related Story: Avs Unlikely to Trade Matt Duchene

But now with back-to-back seasons where he hasn’t reached the 60 point mark, I have to wonder if he is truly worth that 6 mil.

For example, Loui Eriksson — granted a little longer in the tooth — signed a six-year contract with Dallas back when he was Duchene’s age for a 4.25 cap hit.

He scored 63 points this season for Boston, and has three 70 point seasons under his belt during the span of that contract which expired at the conclusion of Boston’s season this year.

But perhaps I should be wondering if Duchene would play better if he had a better winger, and I think that if the Avs trade Iginla and Varlamov, then they should definitely hold onto Duchene and try and find him a good winger to play with.

Still Duchene himself could bring in a real good winger for the Colorado Avalanche, and Carl Soderberg could slot in as the second line center.

Soderberg is coming off a career season in which he had 51 points, just eight fewer than Matt Duchene. Soderberg also only carries a cap hit of 4.75 mil per year for the next four seasons.

Related Story: Carl Soderberg's Player Grade

And, Mikhail Grigorenko has to be kept in mind as well; in other words, could he be on the verge of a breakout season? If so, what will that mean for the top six of the Colorado Avalanche?

I mentioned earlier that Duchene could bring in a nice winger; well, that is certainly the case and the Colorado Avalanche may need help in the top-six on wing more than center.

Some possible targets might be: Jonathan Drouin (and picks because he’s unproven), Chris Kreider (and picks because the value is not there) and Jordan Eberle. There are many other options, but all three of those players have been in trade discussion lately.


The Colorado Avalanche will add Mikko Rantanen to the lineup next season, and he’ll hopefully add another dimension to the top six.

Other than the draft picks that they will make this summer, the Colorado Avalanche do not have much in the way of talented offensive prospects in the system.

J.T. Compher is probably the only one that qualifies, but he is a center and at least a few seasons from playing in the NHL, although Hockey Future said he could push for a roster spot as soon as next season.

Still, that wouldn’t solve the issue that the Avalanche have on the wing, particularly if they are not able to retain the services of Matthias and Boedker.

Next: Four Avalanche Prospects Unlikely to Return Next Season

The Colorado Avalanche currently have 7.3 mil in cap space, so changes are inevitable this season, and the above mentioned players all fall under the category of expensive, and also valuable.

Understandably, they are part of rumors for the Avalanche right now.

Other players that may be dealt this summer are Gabe Landeskog (although I think that’s a long shot), Calvin Pickard, or John Mitchell.

On Saturday we’ll look at some free agent signings that may help the Colorado Avalanche next season, as well as evaluate some more possible trade scenarios; it’s a bit early to start with the draft.