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Joe Sakic: Avs won’t be big players in free agency

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Joe Sakic

Goodbye, Taylor Hall rumors. Adios, visions of Alex Pietrangelo in Avs Burgundy and Blue. Safe travels, Torey Krug.

Essentially confirming a Colorado Hockey Now report from the day before, Avs general manager and franchise icon Joe Sakic said Tuesday night that his club just won’t have the cap space available to go on any big spending sprees when NHL free agency opens on Friday.

The problem:

“We have a lot of (restricted free agent) guys we have to take care of,” Sakic told Colorado Hockey Now. “A lot of guys with arbitration rights. We know the arb numbers and once those come in we’re not going to have a lot of room under the cap.”

Indeed, arbitration rights – which happen a lot earlier in NHL players’ careers now than yesteryear – are the biggest handicap to the Avs’ cap flexibility. Of the six regular players the Avs extended qualifying offers to this week to retain their rights (Andre Burakovsky, Valeri Nichushkin, Ryan Graves, Nikita Zadorov, Vladislav Kamenev and Tyson Jost), Jost is the only one who cannot take the Avs to arbitration this month if negotiations toward a new contract aren’t satisfactory to the player. (Kamenev’s rights were retained, even though he signed with a KHL club. It’s complicated, but Kamenev can only count against the cap if he decides to leave the KHL and pursue a career again in the NHL).

If at least five of those guys are back on the Avs’ roster for next season, which the NHL has set a target date of Jan. 1 to begin, probably about $15 million, minimum, would be subtracted from the Avs’ current available cap space of $22.3 million.

Yeah, the Avs still will have a few bucks to throw at a free agent or two, but they are probably certain to be lesser-name guys. The fact is, the Avs will have to sign a free agent or two, most likely, to just fill out a 23-man roster. It’s still unclear if the Avs are pursuing any of their own potential UFAs, guys such as Matt Nieto and Vladislav Namestnikov.

“We’ll have a little flexibility and we’re going to try and use that smartly,” Sakic told Colorado Hockey Now. “Whether it’s free agency, or we’re more comfortable taking our time and seeing what trades are out there. It’s going to be a long offseason, so there’s no pressure to do anything right away. We can wait and make sure we get the right player to try and help our team.”

Indeed, owners around the NHL are nervous about the coming season. If they don’t know whether paying fans will be in arenas at the start of the next season, their checkbooks are going to become that much tighter. There is a lot of speculation that all but the most premier names on the free-agent market – and that’s a small list – may find a very cold, inhospitable market for as long as uncertainty reigns about the coronavirus. Or, it could be the reverse. Maybe the smaller-name guys will go quicker, because they won’t cost as much. Maybe the guys like Pietrangelo, who want some kind of huge deal, might find it tougher to get what they want.

We’ll start to know more on Friday.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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Brandon Eccles

The news continues to get worse. There is maybe one or 2 guys on that list worth keeping. The rest ain’t worth a wooden nickel.

This team gets no better but expects to win a cup with the same roster. I believe Einstein had a famous quote pertaining to this same situation.

Second round here we come. Disappointing for sure.

Matt Briggle

I would respectfully disagree with you there. I think this team can go much farther with that little tinkering around the edges this article is talking about. Most of the other contenders are being forced to buy out or give away key players for a song just so they can put a full roster together with the flat cap, The Avs can remain largely intact and even improve a couple of areas. If we could have avoided just a couple of the injuries we had in the playoffs this season, I think they would have been in the final against… Read more »

dp10

I am going to disagree here as well. The Avs came within 3 minutes of their first trip to the conference final in 20 years in a game 7 for which they didn’t get to make use of home ice and had make do without 7 players because of injuries. The core of the team is there and only one or two minor pieces are missing in the puzzle. I think a moderate upgrade on defense, goalie or even offense could do the trick. Having said that, the pressure is on. The Avs are going into the next season as… Read more »

troian

With respect to the other two responses, I do agree with you. This is very disappointing news. This team has evidenced significant flaws during the past three years, particularly on the defensive end (as well as consistency of goal-tending and scoring depth). This isn’t news. And the idea that they can get by with what’s on hand and make a few minor changes seems worse than wishful thinking. The mentality of being overly concerned about financial concerns more than a year down the road is also vexing – this window of opportunity can begin to close just as quickly as… Read more »

Carter Janicki

It may be disappointing but it is the right call by Joe. If the Cap would have gone up like it was projected to do before Covid, the plan would have been different and the AVS would have much more cap space to make a big move. But it didn’t, so the plan changed. The team may not get any better, but it’s also not getting any worse. There will be teams getting rid of important players or trying to shed terrible contracts this off-season while we can stand by and make smart moves. This also gives our young prospects… Read more »

Brandon Eccles

I appreciate everyone having optimism about the current roster, it makes me feel better. I get in my own head about it too easily. Same way about the Broncos. After all I love the Avs and want them to win every year. I will gladly have this conversation thrown in my face and have to eat crow if/when they win. I just feel very skeptical that a bottom 2 defensive signing, 3rd line winger signing or a new 3rd string goalie to replace Grubs and Frankie when they tear a groin muscle after a routine save puts us over the… Read more »

Matt Briggle

I don’t disagree with you that either of those players would help put us over the “hump”. Rask would be far more realistic than Pietrangelo as he would be a short term acquisition. Pietrangelo is going to want 7 years and big money. What would you do with him in 4 years when he’s 35, in your bottom pair, making $9 mil, you have $1 mil in cap space, and you need to extend Byram to the tune of $6+ and Timmins at $4-5 mil, and Newhook at anywhere between $4-6 mil (assuming everything goes right)? More than Makar’s or… Read more »

Jared Moss

With all these teams at or near the cap and lots of buyouts n free agents, is it just me or does anyone else see a lot of nhl players not having a job next season?
As for the Avs well have to wait n see what joe does

Frank007799

Joe seems rather conservative. Should we take his word for grant when he says he won’t be a player in free agency? Things can change quickly sometimes. He can very well create salary space by swapping guys like Cole, EJ, Donskoi, and Calvert. He’s got a ton of very good kids (Byram, Timmins, Kaut, Bowers, O’Connor) who can replace them and get the job done right now. He could afford Pietrangelo at 8.5 / 9M per.

Brett Rainboth

Yeah defo think it’s easy to forget about the injuries when looking at what’s needed for this team, what was it 5 skaters & 2 goalies went down?! However, Burakovsky had the best year of his career so far, Donskoi was on his way to do the same and Nikushkin finished top 10 in Selke voting which shows people in the hockey know (outside of Avalanche fans) are paying attention to what a 2 way threat he is. I can’t think there’s much doubt in anyone’s minds that Makar/Girard/Graves are all NHL defenceman. Finally, this team has 3 guys currently… Read more »

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