The Colorado Avalanche are unlikely to make any big moves in free agency, but they’re unlikely to stay completely quiet.
Free agency frenzy is upon us. The Colorado Avalanche always make a move on free agency day, and I suspect this one will be no different.
Free agency frenzy officially begins today at 12:00 pm ET, so 10:00 am MT. In just a few hours, in other words. I always love free agency frenzy day. In years previous I’ve looked on the day in anticipation of all the gaps the Avalanche could fill with this momentous day.
Well, what does free agency frenzy look like for the reigning Stanley Cup champions? Some champs in years past have stayed pat with their current roster while others have been forced to let important players go.
Unfortunately, it’s likely the Avalanche will be in the latter category. We already know goalie Darcy Kuemper will walk in free agency. I still have no problem with that. Kuemper was a serviceable goalie — he wasn’t enough of a sieve to overcome the absolute machine that was in front of him. That’s the best you can say of him, and that’s now how you start a dynasty.
On a much smaller note, Colorado chose not to offer-sheet Nicolas Aube-Kubel. So, he will forever be an amusing footnote in Avalanche history as the guy who dropped the Cup.
Meanwhile, rumors are pretty strong that Colorado will not re-sign forward Andre Burakovsky. I’m mildly surprised by that move. He can be a little streaky, but he can also come up big. But, it could all just come down to money. After the Valeri Nichushkin deal — which to my mind wasn’t the cap friendliest of deals — Colorado has about $15 million in cap space. And even without Burakovsky, they have three big names to sign.
Josh Manson is one of them. Rumors were out last week that Manson wanted to return to his beloved Anaheim Ducks. If so, godspeed. Like Kuemper, he served a purpose for our Cup run, and he can go on his way. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be valuable in the future, but a guy’s got a right to go where he pleases.
The other two are biggies — Nazem Kadri and Artturi Lehkonen. The former may be a pipe dream. He was absolutely integral to Colorado’s Cup victory. He just completed a contract that carried a $4.5 million cap hit. He has already stated that he knows his worth. While it might be true he could give a hometown discount to his redemption team, it might not be enough. I believe the number $8 million was floating around the rumor mill.
As for Lehkonen, he’s a pending restricted free agent coming off a modest contract with an AAV of $925,000. Obviously he’s going to get a big boost, but it’s not likely to be a number that will break the Avalanche’s finances.
So, what needs should Colorado address in this free agency? Well, guru Joe Sakic (his title keeps changing, but they all come down to his being the architect of the team), doesn’t like to make a big splash in free agency.
I mean, sure, it would be amazing to see a player like P.K. Subban or Johnny Gaudreau join the team. However, I think such a move would be highly surprising. The Avalanche are already facing cap hell. They don’t have that kind of money to throw around.
No, I think Sakic and co. will address a lot of little issues with free agency. I expect they’ll pick up a handful of players who will see a lot of time with the AHL Colorado Eagles. I imagine they’ll be a nice mix of forwards and a few defensemen.
In other words, I fully expect Colorado will sign players who at best will see time on the bottom six. I doubt any defensemen who sign will make the trip south to Denver. Not very often anyway.
Truth be told, if Colorado were going to throw money at any free agents, they’d do so at the ones who served them well during this Cup run. The Colorado Avalanche always makes moves in free agency. They rarely make big ones, and I expect that status quo this time.