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FREE AGENCY PRIMER: Where The Avalanche Stand With The Salary Cap Right Now

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Chris MacFarland has made some moves to change the make-up of the team down the middle. The NHL Draft is complete. And in less than 48 hours, all the unrestricted free agents around the NHL hit the market. And there’s still plenty of work left to be done by the Colorado Avalanche.

They’re not done yet.

Not even close.

How much they can really do remains to be seen, however.

This is your primer for how much wiggle room the team will have to work with in free agency.

As of right now, the Avalanche have $74,925,000 locked up into 15 players. However, one of those players is Gabriel Landeskog. We know he’s not going to play this year and will go on long-term injury reserve. That opens up an additional $7,000,000 on the cap, but also means the Avalanche have to replace Landeskog on the roster.

Not exactly easy to do.

With that $7,000,000 removed, that leaves $15,575,000 in cap space with 14 roster players. Keep in mind, one of those players is Fredrik Olofsson. There’s always a chance he’s replaced by someone else on the roster, but for the sake of everything, let’s include him. Even if it’s not Olofsson, it will be someone else in that spot, but with the Swede making league minimum, he might have the inside track of one of the last roster spots for cap reasons alone.

So that leaves 5 forwards that Colorado needs, and 2 defensemen. We already know Ross Colton will be one of the forwards, and Bowen Byram will be one of the defensemen, so it’s really just 4 forwards and 1 defender, but those two could take up as much as half of the remaining cap space on the team.

So how much space will they actually have to add players?

  • The Colton contract should be an easy one to negotiate. When the Avalanche acquire players, they usually sign them almost immediately. We saw it with Alexandar Georgiev, and before him, the likes of Devon Toews, Andre Burakovsky, and Philipp Grubauer. This one will probably be done soon, and I expect it to be in the $3-4 million range, depending on term. Evolving Hockey projects it to be 4-years, $3.3 million per year, which is very reasonable.
  • The Bowen Byram contract is a little more complicated. He doesn’t have a ton of comparables, but his on-ice production is very strong. I’m not anticipating a long-term deal here, because that would cost a lot more money, and would make filling out the rest of the roster a little tougher for the Avalanche. I’m banking on that contract coming in around $4 million per year.

That leaves the current roster as…

Forwards:

Lehkonen – MacKinnon – ?

Nichushkin – Johansen – Rantanen

? – Colton – LOC

Olofsson – ? – ?

Defense:

Toews – Makar

Byram – Girard

? – Manson

MacDermid

Goalies:

Georgiev

Francouz

So, if we’re being safe and counting $8,000,000 towards those two players, that leaves $7,575,000 for 5 roster players. I’d say there’s a good chance they’ll have more room than that when the Byram and Colton contracts are completed, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. They won’t have a whole lot of room either way. Keep in mind, they are not going to spend right¬†to the cap, so they’re not going to use all that cap space.

What that says to me is that the Avalanche are likely to be on the hunt for bargains, or undervalued players over the next several days (and weeks). There could be room for one or two mid-range players ($2-4 million), and then fill out the rest of the roster with players around the $1 million mark.

So now when you’re out there searching for free agents that make sense for Colorado, you have a better idea of just how much room they’ll have under the salary cap.

You now have my permission to go crazy with your fantasy rosters.

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