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The Avalanche’s Entire Second Line Could Go UFA Next Summer; Who Should They Most Try to Keep?



Nick Wass/AP

Hey, not to get ahead of myself at all here, especially in this 10-day pause because of too many Covid-positive players on the Colorado Avalanche, and, well, this is a site that needs to keep up the content quotient, because that’s how life is in the digital media “space”, circa 2021…

But, hey, has anyone noticed that the Avs’ entire second line could all become unrestricted free agents next summer? If not, well, now you have. And, has anyone noticed that the Avs already have $55 million committed to just 12 players for the 2022-23 season – which will make re-signing Nazem Kadri, Valeri Nichushkin and Andre Burakovsky, the potential UFAs who currently comprise the second line – potentially very difficult? The NHL salary cap ceiling is expected to be $82.5 million next season (up just $1 million from this current season) and so, while keeping one of the forwards should be very feasible, and maybe two, keeping all three looks to be a nonstarter.

We haven’t even mentioned yet that the Avs’ top two goalies – Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz – also can go UFA next summer.

I’m not going to get into the goalie situation in this column. Goalies are almost always in a “what have you done for me lately?” situation, and teams almost always overpay on goalies in free-agent situations (cough, cough, Seattle Kraken and Philipp Grubauer).

I want to get into the question of – and keep in mind, it’s Dec. 19, in the Year of Our Lord, 2021 – who should the Avs keep among the three second-liners? Mind you, none of the three have to sign here. If they think there’s more money out there for them next July, they’ll almost certainly go where that is. I will forever use the example of Grubauer leaving the Avs over one extra year on an offer, to go to an expansion team, over staying with a loaded club where wins would have been as easy as betting against me in a math contest against Elon Musk.

Grubauer, at last check, was being benched more often in favor of Chris Driedger in Seattle, while Darcy Kuemper is winning lots of games, despite not really having been “great” yet this season.

A look at the three potential UFA forwards, with my pick at the end as to who the Avs should try hardest to re-sign:

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