Colorado Avalanche: 5 “Under the Radar” Free Agents They Could Target

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 24: General manager Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche listens to president of hockey operations Trevor Linden of the Vancouver Canucks on the draft floor during the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 24: General manager Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche listens to president of hockey operations Trevor Linden of the Vancouver Canucks on the draft floor during the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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D – Thomas Hickey

Thomas Hickey is an interesting option. Hickey is one of three UFA defenseman on the Islanders along with Calvin De Haan (and Dennis Seidenberg). De Haan seems to be the more coveted than Hickey which means teams may get Hickey at a lower price.

Hickey finished last season with 25 points. More importantly, he averaged 18:00 minutes of ice time and finished with a +/- rating of +20, the best on the team by a long shot. He was one of only seven players on the roster to finish in the + side of the category.

Normally that stat can be misleading, but here I don’t believe that’s the case. The Islanders were one of the worst teams last season in goals against. Much of that is due to poor play in net, but hockey is a team sport. Hickey played an important role in the Islanders defense last season, especially with De Haan missing over half the season due to injury.

As far as the advanced numbers go, Hickey and De Haan both have similar offensive numbers in shot generation and offensive zone entries; also Hickey’s zone entries allowed stats are better than De Haan.

This isn’t to say De Haan wouldn’t be a good option for the Avs on defense, quite the opposite. The fact is De Haan is two years younger and would be looking for a long term deal. With all the defensive prospects in Colorado’s system, Sakic may not want to issue out a long term deal for a defenseman in free agency. Hickey offers a similar style of play for probably a shorter term and lower price.

*Note* The Islanders have the most available cap space heading into next season. They may have enough to sign all their free agents if they want.