Colorado Avalanche: Buyer Beware July 1st

James CriderCorrespondent IJune 24, 2010

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 25:  Wade Redden #6 of the New York Rangers skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 25, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

With the salary cap officially raised to 59.4 million dollars for the 2010-2011 NHL season, the Avalanche currently have a mammoth 28 million in cap space. However, with such a shallow free agent pool July 1st (which became even shallower today ), most player come with a big "buyer beware" sign attached to them.

Historically, players get over-hyped once they become a free agent. Two years ago, the Blackhawks made Brian Campbell the second highest paid defenseman in the league after he was coming off of his first—and only—star caliber season. They also made Christobal Huet—who still has yet to win 30 games in a season—the eighth-highest paid goaltender in the league. Paying over $12 million annually has led to more impactful players being shown the door .

The Hawks aren't the only team that has been guilty of this.

When discussion the subject of mismanagement, it's hard for one to overlook Glen Sather's wizardry with the New York Rangers. Granted, sometimes he can trade his way out of boneheaded signings , but I don't think that fact helps Ranger fans sleep any better at night, given that every summer Sather finds a way to dig himself into a hole. Chris Drury and Wade Redden make a combined $13.55 million annually, which crushed the Rangers last season; not only at the bank, but both players know, for their scoring combined for only 46 points.

Today, the Colorado Avalanche sit in the same position Chicago and New York sat in a few years ago—obvious needs on the roster, and a lot of money to spend.

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Unlike said teams, the Avalanche have to avoid falling into the trap of trying to fill all needs at once, especially with the lack of quality players available . The Avalanche have a clear need for a top pairing defenseman, yet with Paul Martin as the best defenseman available, the Avalanche may find themselves in a bidding war for a player who, frankly, isn't all he's being hyped up to be. Perhaps a more savvy move would be to sign Pheonix's Zbynek Michalek, a young first defenseman who can complement the mass of offensive defensemen the Avalanche have in the system.

The difference between a good signing and bad signing isn't necessarily the price tag, either.

Another position of need for Colorado is the top line left wing, and the best players available are Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Frolov. Kovalchuk will cost significantly more, but in the process, you obtain a star caliber player for your team. Frolov, on the other hand, will provide scoring support, but at any time could be supplanted for players already on the roster, such as Peter Muller, David Jones, or Ryan Stoa. In that event, you're stuck with a player making too much dough to be playing on the third line.

Alas, the Francois Giguere era has ended in Colorado, and the Greg Sherman era has begun. Sherman seems much more competent than his predecessor , and smart signings last summer and trades within the year should leave Avalanche fans feeling good about the direction Sherman is taking the team in.

But, if he gets trigger happy July 1st, it will cost Colorado.

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