Colorado Avalanche: Brad Stuart Contract No Longer A Burden

Nov 1, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Brad Stuart (17) grabs a loose puck in the second period against the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Brad Stuart (17) grabs a loose puck in the second period against the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche fans must look for every silver lining possible this offseason, and one may be found in the expiration of an atrocious management decision.

The time is finally upon us, Colorado Avalanche fans! This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for!

No, I don’t mean the draft lottery.

No, I don’t mean a return to playoff hockey.

No, Nolan Patrick has not taken giant strides forward and become a generational talent.

This is even better, as we can finally say “goodbye” to the contractual abomination that is Brad Stuart’s contract. Ding-dong, the witch is dead, and the witch also no longer counts against our salary cap!

To commemorate this momentous offseason event, let’s take a stroll down memory lane, and recall how this soul-sucking, team-killing travesty of a management decision came about!

Mr. Stuart Goes to Washington Denver

On July 1st, 2014, 34-year-old Bradley Stuart (his parents probably called him ‘Bradders’) accepted a trade from the San Jose Sharks to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 2016 2nd-round draft pick and a 2017 6th-round draft pick.

While Bradders only had one year left on his contract, the management duo of Joey ‘Snow-Blowy’ Sakic and Patrick ‘Patty-cakes’ Roy decided to give the veteran defender a two-year contract extension before he’d even played a game for the organization at a cap hit of $3.6 million a year.

This was likely part of the team’s old strategy of acquiring big veteran players to mentor the youth and lead another charge into the playoffs. Little did they know, everything was about to go very, very wrong.

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In his first year with the team, Stuart played 65 games with the team, but only managed to put up 13 points. His second, he produced zero points in six games, before going down for the season with a ‘back injury’. Rumors also swirled of him being toxic in the locker room. 

On June 27th, 2016, the Colorado Avalanche would buy out the remainder of Brad Stuart’s contract, effectively sending him into retirement. However, with Stuart being over 35 at the time of the buyout, the Avalanche received no cap relief.

The Ongoing Impact of Brad Stuart

While Brad Stuart was no longer a part of the Colorado Avalanche organization, his salary cap hit continued to linger. Many point out that the Avalanche were very near the salary cap ceiling this year, but often forget the black hole left by Stuart’s contract.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at the types of players the Avalanche could have had with Bradders’ cap hit. Here are some players who are currently being paid roughly the same amount (between $3 Million and $4 Million).

  • Wayne Simmonds, F, Philadelphia Flyers
    • Cap hit: $3,975,000
    • 2016-17 Stats: 82GP, 31G, 23A, 54Pts, 122PIMS
    • Age: 28
    • Other Notes: NHL All-Star
  • Charlie Coyle, F, M******* W***
    • Cap Hit: $3,500,000
    • 2016-17 Stats: 82GP, 18G, 38A, 56Pts, 36PIMS
    • Age: 27
    • Other Notes: Registered two points in five playoff games.
  • Cam Atkinson, F, Columbus Blue Jackets
    • Cap Hit: $3,500,000
    • 2016-17 Stats: 82GP, 35G, 27A, 62Pts, 22PIMS
    • Age: 27
    • Other Notes: Registered three points in five playoff games this year.
  • Mark Stone, F, Ottawa Senators
    • Cap Hit: $3,500,000
    • 2016-17 Stats: 71GP, 22G, 32A, 54Pts, 25PIMS
    • Age: 24
    • Other Notes: Currently has two points in the playoffs.

The list, depressingly, goes on. There is a large collection of young talent in the NHL currently making what middle-aged Brad Stuart did with the Avalanche, while the Avalanche had to wait for the glaring mistake to finally drop off the books.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

If that last section was depressing to read, take heart my friends, for we have finally reached the end! The Colorado Avalanche will go into the entry-draft and free agency with new-found flexibility, and the ability to bring in more promising young talent.

It also leaves them with plenty of cash to secure any contract extensions they might make, like those of Sven Andrighetto, Matt Nieto, and Nikita Zadorov. These three pending Restricted Free Agents were bright spots in a season full of darkness.

Next: Avs Struggling to Sign Will Butcher

So fare thee well, Brad Stuart’s contract. Let us look back on you as a disdainful learning experience with deep regret. Begone from this place, foul demon, and as they say in my home town, don’t let the door hit ya where the Lord split ya.