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Avalanche Blog: Ullmark Talk, Crazy Week Ahead

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I don’t anticipate getting much sleep in the next week, and I can’t imagine Colorado Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland does either. With the Stanley Cup Final going the full 7 games, we are in for a jam packed week in the NHL.

We aren’t likely to see any moves made today. I’m guessing the NHL told teams to not make any announcements that could overshadow Game 7, but you can only hold off for so long. Does the dam break on Tuesday? Teams aren’t happy with the way this schedule has worked out, and I don’t blame them. I’m sure more moves are being made in the background that can’t be announced during the Final, but the NHL Draft and start of Free Agency are way too close together. This could have easily been avoided by the league, but here we are.

Just so everyone is clear, here’s the schedule for the week ahead…

Game 7 between the Oilers and Panthers – Tonight at 6 PM MST

NHL Awards – Thursday at 5 PM MST

NHL Draft – Friday and Saturday

Deadline for Qualifying Offers – Sunday June 30 at 3 PM MST

Start of NHL Free Agency – July 1 at 10 AM MST

There’s also a good chance the schedule for next season drops in the next week, so just add another one to the list.

Signings and moves still trickle in after the first day of free agency, but a lot of teams use up their money on that opening day. After July 4 or 5, things will likely be pretty quiet until players start re-appearing for training camp in early September.

July 1 is also an important date for new clauses kicking in on existing contracts. As previously discussed, the full no-trade clause for Ross Colton will kick in that day. In addition, a modified nine team no-trade clause will start for Sam Girard. That’s a pretty random number of teams, but I didn’t negotiate the contract, so don’t ask me.

The Avalanche don’t really have many restricted free agents of note when it comes to the qualifying offers deadline. Casey Mittelstadt is the only one on the NHL roster set to become a restricted free agent, and we all know he’ll get an offer. There are a few AHL players due qualifying offers that might not get one, but they aren’t of real consequence. We’ll have to keep an eye on other teams, though. They’re usually reclamation projects, but I’d expect at least one or two interesting players to not get qualified and hit the open market. I expect the Avalanche to do some work in the next week, but I’m not expecting any big splashes. I love surprises, though.

There aren’t many quality goaltenders hitting the open market this year, which is why all eyes are on the trade market, specifically Linus Ullmark. Speaking of him…

Goalie Rumors

At the NHL Trade Deadline, there was word out there that Ullmark had squashed a trade to a Western Conference team. A lot of people believe that team was the Los Angeles Kings, but there are some unconfirmed reports out there that it might have been the Avalanche. Key word there is unconfirmed, but I don’t doubt that the Avalanche were sniffing around a potential upgrade, given how up and down Alexandar Georgiev was this past season. Could they still be sniffing around Ullmark?

Boston is apparently looking for a better package in return for Ullmark than the Flames got for Jacob Markstrom. Calgary received a 2025 first (top 10 protected) and a young, third pair defenseman in Kevin Bahl. Markstrom has two years left on his contract, while Ullmark is entering the final year of his deal that sees him carry a cap hit of $5 million.

As we all know, things have changed since the trade deadline for Colorado. Perhaps the Avalanche were interested in Ullmark then, but the Valeri Nichushkin incident has completely changed the off-season outlook for this team. It’s kind of getting tedious to write about and I’m sure people are sick of hearing about it, but you can’t really hide from it. Colorado is in a pickle. I’m sure they’d love to upgrade in net, but Ullmark carries a bigger cap hit than Georgiev and is looking for a big extension. I’m not sure it’s something they could pull off now even if they wanted to, unless they got really creative. I think it would be fair to describe the Avalanche as “asset poor.” If that’s the package Boston wants, I’m not sure Colorado can match what other teams might give up.

I also find Boston’s ask for Ullmark a little excessive. He won the Vezina in 2022-23, but that season is an outlier compared to the rest of his career. He’s hung around the .915-.917 range every other season, which is still quite good (especially given how poor NHL goaltending was last season), but I don’t believe he’s in that elite territory. It’s a small sample size, but his playoff numbers don’t exactly fill you with a lot of confidence either.

Any team giving up a big package to acquire him would likely want an extension done first, and that’s going to be expensive. Given Colorado’s philosophy on paying goaltenders in recent years, I have a hard time seeing them give a goaltender like that a lot of money for a long time.

If the right deal came along, I do think the Avalanche would jump at the opportunity to upgrade in net. I’m just not sure it’s out there.

Can you tell I’m ready for some actual news to start trickling in? Bring on the crazy week ahead. I leave for Vegas on Thursday morning for the awards show and draft, so look for a lot of coverage from Sin City.

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