With free agency day looming, we take a look at who Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche should target. Qualifying offers have already been made to Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie, Mikhail Grigorenko, Calvin Pickard and Duncan Siemens. Last year the Avs free agency paid off with the signings of Comeau, Beauchamin, Skille and Martinsen all being solid players throughout the season. It’s already been said that the Avalanche won’t be big buyers on July 1st but here are a few that won’t break the bank.
Shawn Mattias- The left winger that the Avalanche acquired before the trade deadline should be the obvious choice. He’s only 28 years old and fits perfectly on the third line and in 20 games with the Avs last year he put up six goals and five assists. His last contract was for 2.3M and you could see him sign something similar for 2-3 years. Mattias has some added value since he’s played center in the past as well.
Patrick Wiercioch- The former Ottawa Senator only put up 5 assists and didn’t have a single goal in the 2015-16 season. He’s also never appeared in more than 56 games. Now I know most are reading this and wondering why would we want him then? Well he will only be 26 at the start of the season and has the size to be a full time defenseman in the league. The 6’5 left shooting defenseman has put up 19, 23 and 13 point seasons before only having 5 last year. He averaged 17 minutes of ice time last year and was still a +2 despite his low point total. He’s good in his own end and would make a good third pairing player that could jump up and fill the Holden roll left on the second line if asked. Oh and here’s the kicker, he also played at the University of Denver for 2 seasons after being drafted. He’s probably looking for a 3-4 year deal but will probably be a bargain after a down year and could see him signing for 2.5M per year.
Luke Schenn- You can never have too many right shooting defenseman and Luke would be the third on the current projected roster with Barrie and Johnson being the others. The former 5th overall pick for the Leafs played for the Flyers and Kings last season where he put together a combined 4 goals and 12 assist season. The 6’2 Saskatchewan native has never lived up to the hype but the Avalanche wouldn’t be playing him on the first line. He would be a solid 2nd or 3rd line player who could kill penalties and sure up the back end for the Avs. He’s a heavy hitter who will also block shots that averaged over 17 minutes of ice time per game. Just from the upside of this player you’ll probably be paying a little extra but could probably pick him up for around 3.5M for 4 years.
Sam Gagner- Another player who is coming off a down year, many forget that the former Oiler is still only 26 years old. Playing in only 53 games with the Flyers last season, Gagner had his worst season from a stats outlook where he only put up 16 points. Before this his lowest point totals since coming into the league was 37 points and had a career high as a rookie where he put up 49. Now can you imagine this guy switching from center to wing and playing with Duchene or MacKinnon? He’s got the speed and hands you want at 5’11, he can play the powerplay and instantly jump into the Top 6 for the Avs. His last contract paid him 4.8M per year but there’s no way he reaches that again. Expect to see him to sign something between 1.5-2.5M as he tries to prove he still has what it takes to be a top 9 guy in the NHL. This is the guy who match Gretzky’s Oiler record of 8 points in a game after all!
*Honorable mentions – Mikhail Boedker, Eric Gryba and Lee Stempniak