The cream of the free agent crop has already come and gone, but many teams are still looking for some solutions; the Colorado Avalanche are one such team. The Avalanche had some ups and downs during the free agent frenzy but still managed to make some valuable signings. The Avalanche also managed to get an outstanding extension done with Nathan MacKinnon and should see both Tyson Barrie and Mikhail Grigorenko ready to suit up after arbitration hearings. Even with all the pieces, the Avalanche did manage to add, they still find themselves with some questions to answer in their top six. Here are some free agent leftovers worth considering for the Avalanche.
Radim Vrbata is an interesting option. After a couple of strong seasons from 2013 to 2015, which included a 30 goal season in his first season in Vancouver, Vrbata’s production fell off sharply in the 2015-16 season. He managed only 13 goals and 27 points in 63 games, his lowest point totals for a season since he managed 23 points back in 2003-04. The fact that he is 35 years old probably won’t make him due for a huge bounce back season. Still, there could be an upside worth considering for Vrbata. He’s still a good sized body with excellent hands who handles and protects the puck well. His possession numbers are basically just okay, but he could find some success in the top six for the Avalanche and could also be had for pretty cheap. Cheap enough for the Avalanche to fit him in after Barrie and Grigorenko get their deals done? To be determined. Vrbata probably would not be my first choice for the Avalanche to fill out their roster.
— NHL (@NHL) December 22, 2015
Kris Versteeg has been an intriguing option to me for a long time. Versteeg has been a bit of a journeyman throughout his career but is a player that always ends up with a home. He has some pretty decent offensive skill but the fact that he is a complete player that is responsible in all three zones of the ice is what tends to make teams look his way. He would certainly satisfy the fancy stat population as his possession numbers are pretty outstanding. I doubt he’s the type of player that would slide into the top six and make a big difference on a long term basis, but he’s a very solid third line option that could even join the second power play unit. His scoring numbers have been pretty consistent throughout his career but have tailed off a bit in the past few years. Versteeg would be a good option if the Avalanche hope to play Joe Colborne in the top six, but that’s about it. His price, while definitely not likely to be anywhere near the $4.4 million AAV of his last contract, might also be too much for Avalanche to take on. A very interesting possibility.
Brandon Pirri is a name that is being tossed around Avalanche social media a lot lately with some good reason. Pirri is young, won’t cost a lot to pick up, has a lot of offensive skills, and would fit the Avalanche system pretty well. His possession numbers are not exactly impressive, but they are not a train wreck either. The only real issue with Pirri is that he’s been inconsistent with his offensive production. He has all of the tools necessary to do well in this league but just has trouble being anything other than streaky. Perhaps he could shine given a chance with the Avalanche. Of all the options listed here, Pirri is the one that could fit in the top six and contribute while being able to be signed for cheap. From a bargain perspective, Pirri is probably the best free agent for the Avalanche to take a chance on.
I’m a Denver native who has been a fan of the Avalanche since they came to town and a fan of the game before that. I started writing my own blog a couple years ago before moving to Bleacher Report and becoming a Featured Columnist there. You can also find me the Burgundy Brigade Podcast