With another season outside of the playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche have to figure out what to do with their roster. It seems that there is a feeling of an impending shake-up on the Avalanche roster. I’m not so convinced that this is on the horizon, especially since the roster has done nothing but change since Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic arrived. That being said, every team goes through some kind of changes through the offseason, it’s just the nature of the beast in today’s NHL. So what changes might we see coming for the Avalanche this summer?
The following players for the Colorado Avalanche have their contracts coming off the books at the end of this season: Mikkel Boedker, Shawn Matthias, Nathan MacKinnon, Andreas Martinsen, Jack Skille, Mikhail Grigorenko, Andrew Agozzino, Tyson Barrie, Zach Redmond, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Calvin Pickard, Jesse Winchester and Patrick Bordeleau. Plus, Max Talbot’s retained salary comes off the books.
Erik Johnson’s new contract kicks in next season, which takes his salary cap number up to $6 million. After all is said and done, the Colorado Avalanche will find themselves with $21.39 million in cap space.
Who is Staying
Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie are two names that are going to be getting the biggest contract numbers from the Avalanche. The big question that will come up with both is exactly what the contract will look like. Are the Avalanche going to try and get MacKinnon to sign a bridge deal, or will the sign him to a long-term extension with a big number? The Avalanche have a structure of $6 million for their salary cap, but if there is a player that will command more than this, it’s Nathan MacKinnon.
Tyson Barrie is very inconsistent in his play. At times, he is a game-changing machine that can produce points and score seemingly at will. On other nights, he is a turnover machine that gets physically dominated in his own end and doesn’t make good decisions. He has put up 50 points in back to back seasons, however. From a defenseman, that’s impressive. He’ll get a raise, but how big is the question.
Shawn Matthias is a pending unrestricted free agent that the Avalanche acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline. Matthias has been fantastic for Colorado since arriving. He’s tenacious, physical, brings a ton of energy on the ice and can finish. The Avalanche have to keep Matthias and should be able to do so at a reasonable price.
Mikhail Grigorenko was up and down in the lineup for a while before finding a home on the wing of Matt Duchene. His game became a big upside for the Avalanche and it seemed like his confidence just kept increasing more and more. I like him a lot with Duchene and the Avalanche should be able to get him back on the roster with another team-friendly contract.
Calvin Pickard has gone from being a promising young prospect to being a legitimate NHL goalie. He showed that he can step in and play at a very high level. The Avalanche definitely need to bring Pickard back.
Let Them Go
Andrew Bodnarchuk was a waiver pickup by the Avalanche that did not play very well. He’s undersized, is an okay skater but is just questionable in his own zone. He doesn’t really add much to the team and should be allowed to walk.
Mikkel Boedker was traded to the Avalanche at the deadline because the team couldn’t sign him to an extension. Boedker has shown some positive things with his time on the Avalanche, but if it is true that Boedker is hoping to get a $6 million AAV style contract, then there is absolutely no reason for the Avalanche to keep him on the roster. His speed helps with Nathan MacKinnon, but giving that kind of a contract to a player that has never scored 20 goals in the NHL is definitely not something that would be wise. Let somebody else overpay.
Jesse Winchester had his time with the Avalanche completely destroyed by a preseason concussion. It’s unfortunate that he never managed to get onto the ice for the Avalanche, but it also makes it easy to decide whether or not he should stay on the roster. I hope his health returns and he is able to continue playing, but it won’t be with the Avalanche.
Patrick Bordeleau has a small piece of his contract counting towards the salary cap with the “buried contract” rules. I like Bordeleau, but his type of player is disappearing from the NHL. He’s simply not good enough of a complete player to justify keeping him in the system, even in the AHL. He takes up a contract spot that could be used better.
Somewhere In Between
Andreas Martinsen has shown some definite promise during his brief time with the Avalanche but it’s just unclear what the plans for the Avalanche roster are, which makes it difficult to say whether or not Martinsen will receive a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. He has the potential to be a strong third or fourth line player, and a contract for him shouldn’t be prohibitive for the Avalanche. Another one-year deal with a similar cap hit wouldn’t be considered outlandish.
Zach Redmond will be an unrestricted free agent this year and he’s another one that is hard to tell. Roy and Sakic have said that they want to go with the younger players and let them grow, which puts Redmond on the outside looking in. He might be re-signed and kept in the minors, or he could serve as one of the extra defensemen that is a healthy scratch most nights. Or, the Avalanche could let him walk altogether and move on with other options.
Jack Skille made the Avalanche off or a tryout contract in training camp and was a solid addition to the team. Skille’s speed and grit helped provide some much-needed depth to the team and rounded out the bottom six very well. I’m simply not sure if he wants to stay with the Avalanche, because if it were up to me, I’d definitely keep him in the similar role that he played this past season.
Andrew Agozzino ended the season with the Avalanche but has spent the majority of his time in the AHL. He has been a leading scorer for the Rampage/Monsters during his time in the AHL, but he doesn’t fit the mold that Roy likes. As he is finally becoming unrestricted, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to try and find another place where he might get a better chance to play in the NHL.
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