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Five UFA Defensemen That Could Make Sense For The Avalanche

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There’s a good chance the Colorado Avalanche will have to go on the hunt for at least one free agent defenseman this summer. Don’t go expecting them to make a big splash on the blueline, though.

With Sean Walker likely to be too expensive to retain and the status of both Jack Johnson and Caleb Jones up in the air, the Avalanche could be in need of a defenseman or two. Sam Malinski seems like the obvious choice to take one of the vacant spots on the blueline, but there aren’t many behind him on the depth chart that could step in to help immediately. That means the Avalanche will have to hunt for some depth on the blueline via trade or free agency.

Like we mentioned with the forwards, they aren’t likely to have a ton of money to spend, so the defensemen they could target are ones that will have to come with a lower price tag. That’s tough to gauge with defensemen, because teams value different things, but here are five that would make sense for the Avalanche come July 1.

Joel Edmundson

My understanding is the Avalanche have liked him in the past, so it would make some sense for them to circle back if he hits the open market on July 1. At 31, he’s starting to get up there in age, and staying healthy has been a problem for him, but if the Avalanche choose to let Johnson go, Edmundson could step in and fill the role Johnson played last year, perhaps even providing an upgrade.

Edmundson had a cap hit of $3.5 million last year, but I can’t imagine he gets that much in free agency. Then again, teams can do silly things on July 1.

Oliver Kylington

This one would be a bit of a swing on talent, but talk about a guy whose skating would fit in perfectly with how the Avalanche like to play.

Klyington is an interesting player. He had a breakout year in 2021-22 where he put up 31 points, but stepped away from the game the following season to take care of his mental health. He returned late in the season for the Flames, playing 33 games and looking good in the process. At just 27, he’s one of the younger defensemen set to hit the market.

He made $2.5 million last season, but given how little he’s played the last two years, he might have to take less if he wants to continue his NHL career. Could be a great candidate to buy low on and maybe sell on the idea of coming here for a year to get a bigger contract down the line.

Dmitry Kulikov

You can go home again, I guess.

After being selected high by the Florida Panthers back in 2009, Kulikov returned to the team that drafted him and has played valuable minutes on the contender. He’s the type of physical, stay-at-home guy that might fit with Malinski on the third pair. Made just $1 million this past year, but this playoff run might get him a raise next season.

Jalen Chatfield

Chatfield is a right shot defenseman, which would make things a little complicated given that Malinski is a right shot as well, but the 28 year old has been a regular player for one of the top defensive teams in the league the last two years. He picked up 22 points while making just $762,500, so he’s in line for a decent raise. It never hurts to have too many good defenseman available to play, though.

Mike Reilly

Had to take a massive pay cut after things fell apart in his final season with the Bruins, but bounced back after landing with the Islanders through waivers, sometimes even playing on their top powerplay unit. He wouldn’t be asked to do that in Colorado (or even their second unit), but if he was willing to take a deal around what he made last season ($1 million), could provide some stability to the bottom pair.

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