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Who The Avalanche Could Poach From The Panthers

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For the first time in the history of their franchise, the Florida Panthers are Stanley Cup champions. There’s very little time for them to party and celebrate, though. The absurd NHL schedule means they have six days to sign half their team. No, that’s not an exaggeration. Florida has 11 players set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, and the Colorado Avalanche should probably take a look at a few of them.

Every year, teams try to take a look at the Stanley Cup winner and see if they can recreate that on their own. There’s a reason why the NHL is called a copycat league. What better way to copy them than by signing a player or two off their roster? Here’s a few the Avalanche should consider targeting…

Center Kevin Stenlund

We went over Stenlund last month taking a peek at some unrestricted free agents that make sense. Out of all of these players, he makes the most sense. He was drafted by Chris MacFarland in Columbus and is a big center who can kill penalties. That’s something this team is desperate for. He’s not perfect, as he has a tendency to take a lot of penalties, but he would compliment the other centers on the roster really well.

When a team wins the Stanley Cup, you usually have to pay the Cup tax in free agency, so predicting his contract is difficult. He didn’t exactly light the world on fire offensively this season, and picked up just one assist in 24 playoff games, so common sense would say he shouldn’t be that expensive. With the cap finally going up, common sense might go out the window this summer, though.

Wing/Center Steven Lorentz

Another big guy at 6’3″, 192 pounds, Lorentz was in and out of the lineup in the postseason, and didn’t produce a ton offensively. For a guy his size, he can skate really well and has been a solid penalty killer in the past. That kind of size and speed would be a welcome addition to the bottom six for the Avalanche. If nothing else, he’s shown that he can be a valuable depth forward who understands his role.

Wingers Nick Cousins/Ryan Lomberg

Is there a more hated player in the NHL than Nick Cousins? He loves to stir the pot, but when it comes time to pay the piper, he’s usually nowhere to be found. The Avalanche are not a super physical team, so both of these guys would bring a different element to the bottom six. I’d probably have both of them lower down my list than Stenlund and Lorentz because neither of them really kill penalties, which is something the Avalanche are probably looking for in a bottom six forward.

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov

Is he the hero of Game Seven, and will that get him a slightly bigger contract than expected? The composure to clear the puck out of the crease while sliding into his own net is what led to Sam Reinhart scoring the Cup-clinching goal at the other end, but it’s the physicality and PK prowess that you’re really targeting with Kulikov. A physical depth defenseman that can kill penalties would really help take the load off Devon Toews and Cale Makar.

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