Complete Guide for Colorado Avalanche's 2014 Offseason
The Colorado Avalanche are headed to the golf course a little earlier than their fans would have liked, but they had an amazing season. The Avalanche by no means were a Stanley Cup favorite, let alone a favorite to make the playoffs.
The Avs failed to make it out of the first round, but there is a lot of potential on this roster. Although the season was great, it is time to shift focus to the offseason. This summer, the Avs will look to upgrade their roster, retain some key members of their squad and become a team that can go the distance next season.
With that in mind, here's your complete guide for the Colorado Avalanche's 2014 offseason.
Financial and salary information via Cap Geek.
The Avs finished the season with the third-best record in the NHL with 52-22-8 and 112 points, and it was an amazing improvement over their 39-point campaign during the 2012-13 tilt. The addition of Patrick Roy certainly helped improve the team, and it will be interesting to see what happens with this team next year.
It was a year that saw Nathan MacKinnon take the NHL by storm, Semyon Varlamov have his best year as a goaltender and Gabriel Landeskog take another step forward as one of the league's top captains.
The Avs lost Alex Tanguay to injury early on in the season, and that changed the dynamic of the offense. With Tanguay on IR, MacKinnon spent some time in the top six on the wing instead of center, and it ultimately led to him going on a massive tear.
The Avs' top-six forwards as a whole had amazing seasons, as Matt Duchene finished with 70 points and was the top scorer, and four others recorded at least 60 points. Colorado ended the year with the league's fifth-best offense, and it was a big step forward for a team full of young talent.
Ultimately, the team failed to win the Stanley Cup, but the Avs had an amazing building year, and they will benefit from having gone through a playoff series that went to a Game 7.
Biggest Storylines to Follow
Has Paul Stastny Played His Last Game As a Member of the Avalanche?
Paul Stastny had a great season in which he tallied 25 goals and 60 points in 71 games. During the postseason, he tallied five goals and 10 points, and it is possible that he has played his last goal as a member of the Avs. He is due for a raise from his current $6.6 million cap hit, and he is currently the biggest player due to hit free agency.
There are a number of teams that would pay him at least $7 million or more because of his offensive talent and two-way play, and it is possible that he cashes in during free agency.
How Much Will It Cost To Retain Ryan O'Reilly
Ryan O'Reilly sat out most of the 2012-13 season, and he eventually signed an offer sheet submitted by the Calgary Flames. Colorado matched the sheet, and this summer, he is due for a new contract as a restricted free agent. To retain negotiating rights, the Avs will need to submit a qualifying offer of $6.5 million, or they will need to get him to sign an extension.
Odds are the Avs don't want to pay him that much even though he had an amazing season, but it will be interesting to see how much it costs to keep ROR in burgundy and blue.
Notable Players Hitting Free Agency
|Player||Type of FA||Cap Hit Information|
|Paul Stastny||UFA||$6.6 Million|
|Ryan O'Reilly||RFA||$5 Million|
|Jamie McGinn||RFA||$1.75 Million|
The Avalanche have two top-six forwards that need to be re-signed, and there is a chance that they could lose one this summer. Stud blueliner Tyson Barrie will need a new contract, and while he won't break the bank, it makes sense to set him up on a deal that doesn't enable him to burn the Avs for more money later.
Overall, the Avs will have some money to spend, but will they be able to keep all of their key free agents?
Top Free-Agent Targets
The Avalanche have a great forward corps, they are set in net, but they need to improve their blue line. There aren't a number of big-ticket defenders on the market, but there are a number of quality defensive defenders whom the Avs should try and sign this offseason.
Anton Stralman got a chance with the New Jersey Devils on a tryout prior to the 2011-12 season, and he eventually signed with the New York Rangers. Since that point, Stralman has been a quality defensive defender, and he is a guy who could really help the Avs blue line. He rejected a contract offer from the Rangers before the end of the season, so there's a good chance he will go to market.
Matt Greene is a 6'3", 232-pound blueliner currently with the Los Angeles Kings. He loves to play physical, is a great stay-at-home defender and leads by example. He's been in the NHL for eight years; he won a Stanley Cup with the Kings and brings a number of elements that the Avalanche could use on their roster.
Chris Butler is a 27-year-old blueliner that could be a great fit for Colorado. He is a mobile defender that is solid in his own end, and he is durable. He played in every game this past season, and he averaged 20:15 a game. He is a great option to sign for a low rate, and he could easily assimilate into the Avs defense corps.
Best Options in the Draft
The Avalanche are used to picking early in the NHL draft, but this year, they will be picking in the back half of the draft. There are a number of players the Avs could take to help bolster their prospect pool, and these are the ones they should try and snatch up.
Roland McKeown is a 6'1" 185-pound blueliner currently playing in the OHL, and he is a steady two-way player that could blossom into the type of defender the Avs need. He has decent size, but he is only going to grow as he gets older.
If the Avs want to select a forward, Ivan Barbashev is a player that could be worth their while. Barbashev is a member of the QMJHL, so Roy should be very familiar with his game. He is a playmaking winger with decent size—6'1" and 181 pounds— that has great vision. He is also great at possessing the puck, and that allows him to transition from defense to offense. He should be available late in the draft, and he'd be a great pickup for Colorado.
Players Who Should Be Put on the Trading Block
The Avalanche are a team on the rise, and therefore, they may want to give some of their youngsters more of a chance to shine. They have a lot of players returning next season, and if they want to have as much youth in their lineup, they should try dealing Tanguay.
Tanguay is 34, and he is coming off a season where injuries limited him to 16 games. Tanguay has 773 points in 938 games, so his role is well known as a secondary scorer. The problem is that over the past few seasons, he hasn't produced, yet he collects a hefty salary. Elsewhere, he could provide value in a role in which he gets more ice time, so he does have some value.
He is a good player, but if he remains on the roster, he will likely be a member of the bottom six, and that isn't where he could be best utilized.
Top Trade Targets
If the Avalanche cannot upgrade their defense via the free-agent market, they should seek out some help via trade. The Avs could dangle Tanguay, P.A. Parenteau or a prospect and draft choice to acquire a top-four defenseman.
Their need of a defenseman is known, but whom should they target?
Dmitry Kulikov is a 23-year-old defender with upside that could use a change of scenery. He has a ton of potential, but he hasn't worked out with the Florida Panthers. He has solid skating and offensive skills that could help the Avs backend, and he could blossom in a new environment.
The Panthers could change things up this offseason after missing the playoffs again, and Kulikov would be a player that would be a nice pickup.
Christian Ehrhoff is 31 and may have a contract that runs till 2021, but he is someone worth taking a chance on. He is an amazing skater, a smart player that can contribute offensively and he isn't a liability in his own zone. Sure, he was minus-27 this season on a bad Buffalo Sabres team, but that isn't indicative of his overall play. He would bring experience and talent, and therefore, he's worth looking into.
Prospects Most Likely to Debut in 2014-15
The Avalanche's first-round selection from the 2010 draft, Joey Hishon, should get a shot in the lineup next season. He's a 5'10" center that is fleet of foot, and he has made great strides to overcome concussions suffered in the AHL. He will likely get a shot in a bottom-six role, but it will likely be during the midpoint of the season.
Duncan Siemens is the defender the Avs sorely need in their lineup, and it would be surprising if he weren't in the starting lineup next season. The 6'3" blueliner was picked 11th overall at the 2011 draft, and he spent the 2013-14 season with the Lake Erie Monsters.
He is a shutdown defender that likes to play a tough and physical game, and he also can contribute offensively. He is the team's second-best defensive prospect behind Barrie, and he could help in a big way next season.
Projected 2014-15 Depth Chart
|Gabriel Landeskog||Paul Stastny||Nathan MacKinnon|
|Ryan O'Reilly||Matt Duchene||P.A. Parenteau|
|Jamie McGinn||Joey Hishon||John Mitchell|
|Cody McLeod||Marc-Andre Cliche||Max Talbot|
|Jan Hejda||Tyson Barrie|
|Andre Benoit||Erik Johnson|
|Duncan Siemens||Nate Guenin|