Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic on UFAs and Trades


Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is busy working to make the team stronger with free agency, the draft and potential trades.

Some Colorado Avalanche fans might think GM Joe Sakic hasn’t been too active this off-season. Aside from some prospect signings — J.T. Compher, Anton Lindholm, Julien Nantel and Sergei Boikov — there hasn’t been so much as a trade of draft picks. (Well, considering Avs GMs have sometimes traded a third rounder for a fourth rounder, maybe we should be happy about that.)

In actuality, Sakic is in Buffalo, New York, right now in preparation for the draft. During a radio interview with Altitude Sports Radio, he remarked on his plans for the draft as well as the rest of the off-season.

Now, the Avalanche’s draft hasn’t deviated from what Sakic told Mike Chambers of the Denver Post — essentially that they’re going to choose the best player still available on a list that’s “forward heavy.” With that in mind, I selected the five most likely choices Colorado might make at #10:

Related Story: 5 Players Likely on the Avs Draft List

Sakic was a little more forthcoming about free agency and trades.

Restricted Free Agency

The Colorado Avalanche have several players entering restricted free agency. The biggest names, of course, are Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie. The latter has been fuel for trade rumors.

Sakic squashed those rumors last week when he remarked that he was meeting with Barrie’s agent at the draft. In fact, Sakic confirmed on the radio that the meeting is for tomorrow. The Avalanche will either sign Barrie to a long-term deal or take him to salary arbitration. Either way, Tyson would be at Avalanche training camp.

Here’s what Barrie might be worth:

Related Story: What is Barrie Worth?

For some reason Sakic seems to be playing poker with Nathan MacKinnon’s contract. He reiterated that the talks were only “preliminary.” That seems to open the team up to offer sheets:

Related Story: 4 Teams that Might Make Offers for MacKinnon

However, it could mean that the Avalanche are planning on offering a bridge deal rather than the long-term contract MacKinnon said he wanted. In any case, the deal is also supposed to be done by training camp.

Sakic had already said the team planned to make qualifying offers on Brandon Gormley, Duncan Siemens and Andreas Martinsen. Read more:

Related Story: RFAs with Qualifying Offers

A name that’s been left out up until now was Mikhail Grigorenko, who’s also a restricted free agent. However, Sakic confirmed on the radio that the team intended to qualify him as well. His previous contract was for one year at $675,000.

A name still off the list is Calvin Pickard. The goalie is also a pending restricted free agent, but Sakic hasn’t said anything about qualifying him yet. That said, when asked about the Avs’ goalie situation, Sakic said the team was well-set because they had Semyon Varlamov, Reto Berra and Calvin Pickard — Calvin’s name actually came second in that listing.

So, that sounds like the Avalanche are planning on qualifying Pickard as well.

Unrestricted Free Agents

The Colorado Avalanche have two players heading into unrestricted free agency — both rentals from the end of last season.

Right wing Mikkel Boedker is the more high-end of the two. He’s a fast and electric player, but he hasn’t put up any big numbers. Reports are he’s seeking more than $5 million annually.

I had high hopes the Avalanche would be able to extend Shawn Matthias. He’s a very capable role player who made $2.3 million annually last year.

Sakic has said more than once that the Avalanche would like to have both back. He remarked that they’d offer for both, but that currently both sides were in “wait and see mode.” Frankly, if the team couldn’t get them tied up with extensions, I don’t see them signing either one at inflated UFA prices.

After all, Joe Sakic has been adamant that the team has no intention of trying to make a big splash in free agency. Sakic doesn’t want to sign an aging player to big, expensive contracts — à la Brad Stuart, but he could be thinking Jarome Iginla, too.

On the radio he added that he didn’t see the current crop of UFAs as having a “difference-maker” someone who was “worth overpaying for.” With pending RFAs needing payouts, the Avs don’t want to handcuff themselves with a big UFA signing.

The Avalanche do intend to look around as the summer progresses for any players who might fill depth positions for the team.

It sounds like one player Colorado is not going to be looking at is Alexander Radulov. The Russian dynamo is reportedly looking for a big payout — and the Avs aren’t handing out those kinds of contracts. Sakic stated, “We’re not involved in [talks with Radulov] right now.”

Trading for Defense

During Joe Sakic’s end of the year presser, he remarked that he wanted the Colorado Avalanche to improve “on the back end.” He reiterated that during his Denver Post interview and again on the radio.

He elaborated with Altitude Sports Radio, saying the Avalanche need a “top-end D.” He acknowledged that such players “don’t grow on trees.” And for that reason Colorado would probably have to trade for one.

Now, since Sakic has squashed the Barrie trade rumors, we can now speculate about what a trade for a top d-man would look like. And we will. However, for now, I’ll just say that Sakic will most likely try to pull the trigger on a trade while he’s in Buffalo so picks can be included.

That said, Sakic also said the Colorado Avalanche wouldn’t make the trade if it wasn’t a good deal for the team. In that case, they’d just maintain the status quo.

Team Schedule

More from Mile High Sticking

The NHL released full schedules yesterday, and Avs Nation typically lost their minds. As reported, the Avalanche are hosting the Dallas Stars instead of the Minnesota Wild this year.

However, after that small reprieve, the Colorado Avalanche must face some formidable foes. In fact, the Stars themselves were this year’s Central Division champs.

After the home opener, the Avs go on the road to face four Eastern Conference teams, all of them playoff teams. Indeed, Game #2 is against the new Stanley Cup champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They also face the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

In true competitor’s form, Joe Sakic is looking forward to the tough start. He said it would be “good” because “We can see where the team is right away. We’ll be tested right away with five quick games.”

Well, recently Colorado has been a better road than home team, and they often rise up to play good teams. It could be some big victories early will give the players the confidence they need to have a strong start.