Avalanche 2022 Free Agents, Draft Targets, Offseason Guide After NHL Stanley Cup Win

Erin WalshJune 27, 2022

Avalanche 2022 Free Agents, Draft Targets, Offseason Guide After NHL Stanley Cup Win

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    The Colorado Avalanche won the 2022 Stanley Cup Final with a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Sunday's Game 6.

    It was a thrilling end to the season for the Avalanche, which were the best team in the Western Conference throughout the regular season. They topped the Central Division with a 56-19-7 record and looked primed to make a deep playoff run.

    With another season done, it's back to the drawing board for general manager Joe Sakic, who will try to add more pieces around Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar for a repeat run.

    Let's take a look at Colorado's free agents, some draft targets and what to expect moving forward.

Free Agents

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    Andre Burakovsky (UFA), Nazem Kadri (UFA), Valeri Nichushkin (UFA), Artturi Lehkonen (RFA), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (RFA), Darren Helm (UFA), Nico Sturm (UFA), Andrew Cogliano (UFA), Josh Manson (UFA), Ryan Murray (UFA), Jack Johnson (UFA), Darcy Kuemper (UFA)

    The Avalanche have a lengthy list of free agents, but Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri and Darcy Kuemper will be the three most important players for the franchise to re-sign this offseason.

    Kuemper is arguably the most important player Colorado needs to lock up. The 32-year-old finished the 2021-22 season with a 37-12-4 record, a 2.54 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. He was a significant reason the Avs reached the Stanley Cup Final, and he'll be one of the best goaltenders on the open market.

    Marc Andre-Fleury, Braden Holtby and Jack Campbell are among the other top goaltenders available, though Kuemper was better than all of them during the 2021-22 campaign.

    Burakovsky was also crucial to Colorado's offensive success during the 2021-22 season, finishing with 22 goals and 39 assists for 61 points in 79 games. He was playing for the Avs on a two-year, $9.8 million deal and might be looking for a lengthier contract this time around.

    Kadri was a key cog in the Avs' offense, finishing with 28 goals and 59 assists for 87 points in 71 games. He is coming to the end of a six-year, $27 million deal he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded to Colorado. It's unclear what type of contract he might be looking for.

2022 Draft Targets

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    The Avalanche do not have many picks in this year's draft, so there aren't many top-tier prospects they can target.

    Colorado has no first-round selections and won't make their first pick in the NHL draft until the third round.

    These are their current selections in the 2022 draft:

    • One third-round pick
    • One fifth-round pick
    • One sixth-round pick
    • One seventh-round pick

    The Avs initially had a first-round selection, but they traded the pick to acquire Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes. The franchise also had a second-round pick but traded it to the New York Islanders in a deal for Devon Toews.

    With a third-round selection, Colorado will be hoping to get a steal. Some third-round picks of years past who have found NHL success include Jonathan Toews, Henrik Sedin, Matt Duchene, Jonathan Huberdeau and Jonathan Drouin.

Free-Agent Targets

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    Considering Colorado has plenty of free agents, that will leave room for the team to make some improvements itself.

    With players like Cale Makar, Bowen Byram and Erik Johnson holding down the defense, it's reasonable to believe the Avalanche will put more of a focus on offensive free agents.

    That said, some targets could include Claude Giroux, Filip Forsberg, Ondrej Palat and Johnny Gaudreau.

    Giroux reportedly had an interest in joining the Avalanche at the trade deadline, but he was traded to the Florida Panthers instead. Now that he's a free agent, there's no reason to believe he won't be interested in heading to Colorado.

    The 34-year-old is still one of the most productive forwards in the NHL. He finished the 2021-22 season with 21 goals and 44 assists for 65 points in 75 games. In addition to his offensive prowess, his leadership skills and veteran presence would be welcomed in a Colorado locker room that has a number of young players.

    Forsberg, meanwhile, would also be a solid option for the Avs if they don't land Giroux. The 27-year-old tallied 42 goals and 42 assists for 84 points in 69 games with the Nashville Predators during the 2021-22 season, and his scoring touch is just what the team needs moving forward.

    Gaudreau and Palat would also be interesting replacements for Burakovsky, who is set to be a free agent. The former had a career year with the Calgary Flames in 2021-22, finishing with 40 goals and 75 assists for 115points in 82 games, while the latter had 18 goals and 28 assists for 46 points in 76 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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