2011 NHL Free Agency: 7 Players Colorado Avalanche Should Target

Kevin GoffContributor IJune 28, 2011

2011 NHL Free Agency: 7 Players Colorado Avalanche Should Target

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    With the Avalanche having just finished qualifying their restricted free agents, they must now turn their plans towards the signing period for free agents, which begins this coming Friday.

    There are two main areas that the Avalanche absolutely must address during this time period.

    First, the Avalanche are letting both goalies on the active NHL roster go their own ways; as a result, they now have absolutely nobody in net.

    Finding a legit No. 1 goalie is the biggest and most immediate need for the Avalanche going into free agency.

    Second, even with the drafting of Gabriel Landeskog, who many expect to make the roster straight out of camp, the Avalanche still need help on the wing.

    One could argue that the Avalanche might want to pick up a defenseman as well, but that isn't as much of a need right out of the gates.

    That being said, here are seven players the Avalanche should target once the signing period begins.

Tomas Vokoun

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    There is a certain irony to the idea that the Avalanche will have signed both of their biggest free-agent goalie names from the Florida Panthers in the past three seasons, but in this case Vokoun is clearly the best option available.

    He's a solid No. 1 goalie who has shown that he can still put up very good numbers even while playing for a bad team.

    His 2.55 goals-against average and .922 save-percentage are nothing to sneer at.

    He's used to not having too much of a defense, and can also put his teammates at ease, knowing that he'll definitely stop the pucks he should stop—something that none of the three goalies the Avalanche used last year could boast.

    The Avalanche have an insane amount of cap space and will need to work just to get to the floor of the salary cap, so finding a nice number for Vokoun should not be an issue.

    Signing Vokoun should be the No. 1 priority for the Colorado Avalanche on July 1st.

Simon Gagne

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    Simon Gagne would be a great addition to the Avalanche, and not just because he's a decent winger that fills a gaping hole for the Avalanche.

    He's a professional guy, a crafty veteran who is also very skilled. He is a great two-way forward that plays a solid defensive game.

    Gagne would look really great on the wing of either Paul Stastny or Matt Duchene.

    Gagne would also bring a certain level of toughness that he obtained during his many years playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Perhaps the best thing that he could bring to the table for the Avalanche is veteran leadership. With the trade of John-Michael Liles, the Avalanche are seriously lacking for long-time veteran leaders on the team.

    This benefit off the ice could be just as beneficial, if not more so, than whatever he does on the ice.

Christian Ehrhoff

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    Ehrhoff is a great multipurpose defenseman that can play in pretty much every situation.

    He would be a great replacement for John-Michael Liles as the quarterback of the Avalanche power play. He produced 50 points last regular season, leading Vancouver's defensive core.

    He also brings better size and toughness than Liles did, at 6'2", 203 pounds.

    In addition to his size and point production, Ehrhoff brings a winning mentality with him that he got playing for Vancouver over the past several seasons.

    When you are part of a team that wins as often as the Canucks have, you don't like to lose—and that determination to win is something that should help out an Avalanche team that is still in the process of remembering how to win games.

Michael Ryder

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    Michael Ryder would be a great addition to the Avalanche and would bring a strong work ethic with him that would be contagious for the rest of the team.

    He's another great veteran guy who would help the younger players on the roster see what it takes to be a winner.

    He's also a guy who just won a Stanley Cup, which should drive the younger guys on the team to play better in order to reach the same goal as well.

    I personally think Michael Ryder would look great in an Avalanche jersey.

Josh Harding

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    Josh Harding missed all of last season with the Minnesota Wild due to a knee injury, so it is unlikely that he would come back to start right away for a team next season.

    Harding has respectable numbers for his career: 2.66 goals-against and a .914 save-percentage.

    He could make a perfect backup option for Tomas Vokoun.

    He is also still young, which makes him an attractive option should he return to a better form after his knee injury.

    This could also push Vokoun to keep his form and work ethic in order to keep his No. 1 spot.

Ed Jovanovski

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    Many Avalanche fans remember when the Avalanche had to see this guy a lot when he played for Vancouver.

    Jovanovski is another great veteran leader that would bring up the intensity level in the locker room.

    Plus, he's just plain mean. People don't want to go in his area on the ice, and that is something that the Avalanche need.

    He would be a perfect mentor for new draft-pick Duncan Siemens as he learns how to be an effective defenseman in the league that maintains the right side of that edge that players are looking for.

Jean-Sebastian Giguere

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    Should the Avalanche be unable to sign Vokoun, or decide that they wanted to go in a different direction, J.S. Giguere would be another possibility for the Avalanche.

    Giguere is a year younger than Vokoun, so that might be nice, and Giguere is another one of those guys who has that winning experience that is so great to have in the locker room.

    He's a Conn Smythe winner and a Stanley Cup champion—what other guy would you want to have mentor current Avalanche prospect Calvin Pickard?

    He might not be the miraculous goaltending-machine that he once was, but, at age 34, I think he's got a few good years left in him.