The Colorado Avalanche Salary Cap Situation Moving Forward

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 11: Members of the Colorado Avalanche celebrate the victory against the Boston Bruins at the Pepsi Center on October 11, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)'n
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 11: Members of the Colorado Avalanche celebrate the victory against the Boston Bruins at the Pepsi Center on October 11, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)'n /

Despite some poor moves in recent seasons and offseasons, the Colorado Avalanche are in a position to set themselves up nicely for the future.

The Colorado Avalanche entered the 2017-2018 season with a little over six million dollars underneath the 75 million dollar cap ceiling. Of course this season, by most accounts, is a retooling year (I don’t think it’s quite a rebuild as many of the core players are still here), so the cap shouldn’t become a concern. Pending results of the next few seasons though, the Avalanche are in a fantastic position to succeed and stay under the cap.

Currently, the Avalanche have most of the core or important players either locked up to long term deals or on entry level deals. Nathan Mackinnon, Tyson Barrie, Gabriel Landeskog and Erik Johnson are locked up for at least three more years. Younger players like Mikko Rantanen, Tyson Jost, JT Compher, and Nikita Zadorov are players I would think Colorado will give long term deals to once their entry level contracts expire (Zadorov’s is a bridge contract).

There are a few other players that could play themselves into another contract with the Avs, but for right now, I want to focus on the money coming off the books after this season that won’t be back.

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Francois Beauchemin’s buyout money of 4.5 million dollars goes away after this season. That Beauchemin contract looked good during it’s first season and terrible the next. Thankfully, Beauchemin was on the last year of his 35 and older deal, so there will be no cap penalty beyond this year.

Last year when the Avs dealt Cody McCleod to the Predators, they had to retain 533,333 dollars on the two years remaining on his contract. This is the final year the Avs will have that on the books.

Unless something drastic happens and Joe Colborne plays himself into another contract, the Avs will get 2.5 million dollars of cap relief. Blake Comeau is also in the last year of his deal, meaning his 2.4 million comes off the books. I don’t know if the Avs will re-sign him, but I suspect not.

Accounting for all that, the Avalanche will free up a little over 10 million dollars in cap space at the end of the season. This puts them in a fantastic position to sign the aforementioned Rantanen, Jost, Compher, and Zadorov to long term deals.

There are a couple of wild cards to consider. Nail Yakupov has had a good start to the season and he has FINALLY been given a chance to succeed. It’s almost as if playing the gifted winger on a line other than the 4th line helps him develop his game. Huh, who knew.

If he continues to play well, this becomes a win win situation for the Avs. If Yakupov plays himself into another contract with the Avs, it will probably be a bridge deal, as he has two RFA years left before he can become an unrestricted free agent. If he slows down and the Avalanche are not in a playoff position, he can be dealt at the deadline. Teams should see he’s a productive point producer if he’s used with quality players, and teams are usually looking for scoring depth on the wings for a playoff push.

Players like Alexander Kerfoot and Sven Andrighetto could also play themselves into decent pay raises with the Avalanche. Both have looked very good this season and I only expect them to get better. Also, just for fun, we got them for nothing and for Andreas Martinsen respectively. Think about that the next time you want to say that Sakic is a horrible GM and hasn’t done anything good for this team. He deserves some criticism for past failures sure, but he’s not as bad as some fans make him out to be.

Now for the elephant in the room. That elephant would be Carl Soderberg‘s contract. He has three years left at a 4.75 million dollar cap hit. His production this first year in 2015-2016 warranted that, as he tallied over 50 points. Last year was a disaster for Soderberg, as he only scored 14 points. This year he’s consistently been in the bottom 6, usually playing on a line with Comeau and Nieto.

For me, there are a couple ways to look at this. Having a player on your 4th line and paying him 4.75 million dollars is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. Of course you want that money to go towards players that are making more of a positive impact.

Here’s how I see it. Soderberg is an Av, whether fans like it or not. He can’t be sent down to the minors for three years. I don’t think the Avs would want to buy out his contract after this season and be stuck with an almost 2.5 million dollar cap penalty for the next four years. His contract is too large to trade and Colorado wouldn’t get anything of real value for him. Healthy scratching a player with that cap hit also doesn’t make sense unless you have ridiculously deep talent at forward, which the Avalanche don’t. So what do you do with a player like Soderberg?

You make it work. You take that square peg of a player and you shove it in the round hole that is Jared Bednar’s system. To Soderberg’s credit, he’s played decently well this season. He’s settled nicely into a bottom 6 center who can kill penalties. He’s even earned some powerplay time with Jost and Compher out. He has six points in eleven games this season and looks to be on the 40-50 point pace.

Next: 3rd Line Producing for the Avs

All in all, the future cap situation for the Colorado Avalanche looks bright. There is only one bad contract I see on the books and that’s the Soderberg deal. The Avs are in a good position to sign key players to good deals. Still, it’s easy for teams to get themselves into cap trouble real fast with just a few bad deals. Sakic, don’t screw this up!