It’s no secret that the Colorado Avalanche will be addressing their roster when free agency opens up later this week.
But, thanks to the trade of Ryan O’Reilly and the pre-emptive strike of trading for and signing Carl Soderberg to a contract, there are far fewer holes to plug overall.
Bringing in Nikita Zadorov in the O’Reilly deal with Buffalo gives them one talented left-handed defenceman to play in their top-4. I had fully expected them to try and sign two defenders through free agency so you can now cut that wish list in half.
Up front, adding Mikhail Grigorenko in that same trade with the Sabres gives them another big and talented body. The Russian forward should play in their top 9 this coming season with his waiver status limiting his up and down movement between the Avalanche and AHL San Antonio. The team also drafted Mikko Rantanen 10th overall and he’ll have a shot (a long one, probably) at sticking with the team to start the year.
Financially, the Avalanche has some wiggle room for the big day.
As things stand right now Colorado sits just under $17 million underneath the NHL’s salary cap, keeping in mind that Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson are due significant raises in fairly near future.
So where will the team spend some of their money? Obviously a top-pairing left-handed blueliner is the main priority, but it could also be the only real priority. Looking at the forward group hints at that. It’s a large group numerically speaking and unless the team is willing to bury a couple of NHL contracts in the AHL, I’m not expecting to see much in the way of free agent adds up front.