Colorado Avalanche Have Possible Loophole with the Expansion Draft

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

While it may appear that the Colorado Avalanche have some sticky situations involving this year’s expansion draft, it actually seems like they have an applicable loophole.

The Colorado Avalanche will be hoping for a summer that promises an injection of talent to the NHL roster, as well as their organization. Unfortunately, they may experience some serious issues with the expansion draft because of their cap structure and contracts with no-movement clauses.

But will they? There seem’s to be a loophole….

Here are the rules for that draft — and here is the current cap structure for the Avs so you can see who is eligible for the draft — but I’m going to break them down in the ways that they will likely impact the Avalanche.

How the Expansion Draft Impacts the Avalanche

Let’s just get a bulleted breakdown of the goods:

Who can be protected:

  • The Avs can protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender. Or, they can protect eight skaters (forwards/defensemen), and one goaltender.
  • Both Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson currently have no-movement clauses (NMC) involved in their contracts. So, both of them must be protected because any player unwilling to change their NMC before the expansion draft must be protected.
  • All first and second year professionals will be exempt from selection in the expansion draft, and will not be applicable to the club’s list of whom needs to be protected (i.e. Mikko Rantanen, Chris Bigras, AJ Greer, and Andreas Martinsen).

Who must be exposed:

  • One defenseman who is under contract in 2017-18, and who played in at least 40 games the prior season, or who played in at least 70 games total the prior two seasons (i.e Tyson Barrie, or Fedor Tyutin.)
  • The same rules apply to the forwards, except two forwards must be exposed (i.e. Joe Colborne, Carl Soderberg, Gabe Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, and Cody McLeod.)
  • The same rules apply to the goaltenders, except that a goalie can be a RFA in 2017 as long as he has been given a qualifying offer prior to the team’s release of their “list” of eligible players. Also, only one goalie must be exposed. Finally, there are no rules concerning how many games they have played (i.e. Semyon Varlamov, Calvin Pickard, Spencer Martin, and perhaps Jeremy Smith  — who might be available if he receives a contract for the 2017-18 season — are all available.)

So, what does this mean for the Avs?

Here’s where things get tricky

There’s a loophole as far as I can figure it. Since all the players who must be exposed have to have a contract in the 2017-18 season, and since the list must be released by June 17 at 5:00 pm — before free agency opens — the Colorado Avalanche can technically hold off on giving any players 2017-18 contracts until after the expansion draft concludes.

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Because here’s the rub. The Avs can protect three defensemen. They are already required to protect Johnson and Beauchemin because of their NMCs. Which would leave them with an option between Zadorov and Barrie. Fortunately, Zadorov is currently without a 2017-18 contract. So, he can technically stay unprotected, right? Then, they can protect Barrie, and expose Tyutin (if Tyutin gets a 2017-18 contract in the meantime).

Regardless, they’re likely to lose Semyon Varlamov because there’s no way they give up Pickard. And, there’s no way they trade Varly in the meantime unless some team gets rather desperate for goalie help.

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So, here’s who would be protected if no changes are made via trade (the Avs would be holding onto eight skaters and one goaltender in this scenario):

  • Nathan MacKinnon
  • Matt Duchene
  • Gabe Landeskog
  • Tyson Barrie
  • Erik Johnson
  • Francois Beauchemin
  • Carl Soderberg
  • Blake Comeau
  • Calvin Pickard

Here’s who’s protected by the 2017-18 contract required loophole:

  • Nikita Zadorov
  • Mikhail Grigorenko
  • Rene Bourque (should the Avs choose to keep him)
  • Patrick Wiercioch
  • Eric Gelinas
  • Cody Goloubef (should the Avs choose to keep him)

Here’s who the Avs expose based on the parameters set forth by the NHL:

  • Semyon Varlamov
  • Fedor Tyutin (but they would have to give him a contract for 2017-18, which would be an extremely smart move)
  • Cody McLeod
  • Joe Colborne

Possible Stipulations

Let me explain my loophole. There is no mention of RFAs being a possible availability at the forward or defensive positions. Thus, they could stay unsigned until after the expansion draft.

There is no mention of requiring teams to sign players to contracts for the 2017-18 season before the expansion draft begins. Thus, they could also stay unsigned until after the expansion draft.

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Still, that seems like a mighty fine loophole so perhaps I’m missing something here. Let me know.

If I’m correct, then the Avs wouldn’t be losing anyone who is going to detrimentally impact the makeup of their roster.


There’s been a lot of discussion of the expansion draft recently because there’s been a lot of discussion concerning trades the Avs should consider. I’ve been advocating for a trade recently, but now I am beginning to rethink that strategy.

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It doesn’t seem like this team needs any help finishing near the bottom of the standings. So perhaps a trade and consequent tank are unnecessary. Perhaps it will all figure itself out, and the expansion draft will help with those decisions.

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And please folks, let me know if there is some other literature you’ve found on the Internet that concerns the expansion draft. And let me know if said literature totally discounts what I’ve presented in this article. But, out of everything I’ve found, there certainly seems to be a loophole.

What say our dedicated readers?