The Colorado Avalanche need to turn their full focus on maximizing the offseason to have a successful 2017-18 season.
Now that the 2017 NHL season is officially over, Colorado Avalanche fans can fully turn their attention to the offseason.
The Avalanche are going to do something between now and September, when training camp and the preseason begin. Hopefully, they do a lot of somethings that help the team. We’re not looking at Colorado being contenders for the Stanley Cup anytime soon, but it would be nice if they were contenders for the playoffs. Or, at least, not contenders for last-overall again.
Let’s look at some of the key pieces of the Colorado Avalanche team and the moves that can best improve their future.
The Colorado Avalanche are looking to free up about $20 million in cap space this summer. That should mean they can sign some free agents.
The first free agent they need to attend to is their own — pending restricted free agent Nikita Zadorov. I advocated in a previous post that the team should throw some big money at him. I think that could work in the short-term at least so he doesn’t defect to the KHL. (Hey, it’s not my money after all.)
It would be nice if Colorado could tie up another loose end and get defenseman Will Butcher signed. That’s looking like a dim hope the closer we get to the August 15, deadline for signing graduated draft picks, though.
From there, the ideal offseason would include unloading two fat contracts: Francois Beauchemin’s ($4.5 million, 1 more season) and Carl Soderberg’s ($4.75 million, 3 more seasons). It’s partially that the Colorado Avalanche could free up cap space by unloading those contracts. However, it’s more about freeing up roster spots from two players who had very disappointing seasons last year.
You could probably add Blake Comeau to that list. He’s got one year left at $2.4 million. You could bury him on the fourth line or as the 13th forward, though, and still be in good shape.
I’m not going to harp on the Jared Bednar situation. We all know where I stand, and if we don’t, read below:
That said, the Colorado Avalanche are down three assistant coaches this offseason. Francois Allaire has completed his contract and isn’t returning as goalie coach. It’s thought they may already have their new goalie coach chosen:
Both Tim Army and Dave Farrish are gone as assistants, too, though. Will has some ideas about who Colorado should hire. To my mind, the Avalanche need experienced assistant coaches — perhaps even ones who can step in if Bednar doesn’t finish the season.
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The Colorado Avalanche have to circumvent two drafts — both the Expansion Draft and the Entry Draft.
For the Expansion Draft, it’s essential they don’t lose an important player. It would be ideal if they “lost” Beauchemin, Soderberg or Comeau, but that would be difficult to pull off. (But not impossible. Read here.) I think it would hinder the team’s future, though, if they lost goalie Calvin Pickard or, especially, defenseman Mark Barberio. They need to protect Sven Andrighetto, too — along with their core, naturally.
For the 2017 NHL Draft, the Colorado Avalanche really need to choose well. They have so many deficits. The team is moving toward a speed-based game. They also prefer players with a lot of skill.
However, you don’t want to base your entire team on one type of player because that’s too easy to defend. Ideally, in the first and second round they choose the best player available at their desired positions. So, they’ll choose the best all-around forward available in the first round (because I really don’t see Colorado choosing a defenseman). They’ll choose the best all-around defenseman available in the second round.
For rounds four through seven (They traded their third round), they can focus on their preferred type of player — a speedster with great puck skills. It might even behoove them to choose a goalie.
DON’T SIGN A VETERAN! If the Colorado Avalanche can get through free agency without picking up yet another over-priced, aging veteran, that would be the ideal situation for the team.
From there, it’s a matter of filling in some blanks not satisfied in the draft. Honestly, everyone keeps harping on the Avalanche’s defense, but they’ve got some decent prospects at that position:
- Chris Bigras
- Andrei Mironov
- Nicolas Meloche
- Anton Lindholm
- Sergei Boikov
Add to that their keeping Barberio and signing Zadorov — plus still having Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie — well, that’s not too shabby for an up-and-coming team.
Really, if Colorado wants to move to a speedy skill game, they need some supporting cast for that style. They’ve got their stars, so they need some journeymen forwards who are relatively young and speedy and who can get the puck to the stars.
Colorado also needs to upgrade two-way journeymen. The Avs need some grinders in the corners and other dirty areas. The kind of guys who don’t mind paying the price to hover in front of the opponent net.
In that vein, they need someone other than Tyson Jost who’s willing to actually, you know, forecheck. We’ll explore some options in upcoming posts, but those are the basic needs.
I’ve deliberately left big trades off this list of ideal offseason moves. I know the Colorado Avalanche are likely going to trade Matt Duchene. I don’t agree that’s an ideal move — in fact, I might even put it in a worst-case scenario post. In any case, let’s see how many of these actions they check off this offseason.