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Avalanche Journal: As free agency dust settles, Colorado looks better than it did a week ago


The two biggest questions for next season remain unresolved, but the Colorado Avalanche did find some intriguing bargains despite limited financial resources at the start of a wild offseason.

For the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of cap space was not the main storyline when free agency opened July 1 and NHL GMs turned back the clock for a proper spending spree. Given the number of risky and/or already problematic contracts handed out, teams like Colorado that mostly stuck to the bargain bin came away from this past week better off than clubs that will ultimately regret some of these deals.

As expected, there’s still no tangible updates on captain Gabe Landeskog and the suspended Valeri Nichushkin. Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said at the 2024 NHL draft in Las Vegas that Landeskog hasn’t hit any “speed bumps” in his continued recovery from a knee injury and the club hopes Nichushkin is doing all he needs to do to get right while in Stage 3 of the NHL-NHLPA Players Assistance Program.

Those two players are still going to define the 2024-25 season for Colorado — either with their returns or absences — and how the Avs react. There could still be a Mikko Rantanen contract extension or other depth signings later in the summer, but for now the depth chart looks relatively settled.

There are still some question marks, but it looks better than it did a week ago.

Center

Age Sept. 15
Cap hit*
Through

Nathan MacKinnon
29
$12.6M
2031

Casey Mittelstadt
25
$5.75M
2027

Ross Colton
28
$4.0M
2027

Chris Wagner
33
$780K
2025

Jean-Luc Foudy
22
$850K
2025

T.J. Tynan
32
$780K
2025

Ondrej Pavel
24
$870K
2025

Ivan Ivan
22
$850K
2026

(Can’t see chart in mobile? Click here.)

Nathan MacKinnon is now the reigning league MVP, and also going to be filled with “one got away from us” motivation after the club’s second-round exit. Good luck slowing him down.

Casey Mittelstadt signed a fair deal for both sides, and having him for a full regular season should be a reason for optimism. He and Ryan Johansen combined for 33 points in an Avs uniform. He could get close to doubling that.

There were reports of Ross Colton being available, but his full no-trade clause kicked in July 1 and he looks set to be the No. 3 center. The fourth spot could be an interesting battle in training camp. Is Chris Wagner the obvious choice? Could one of the younger guys like Jean-Luc Foudy or Nikolai Kovalenko earn that spot?

He’s not listed here, but Calum Ritchie will be at camp and should be headed back to juniors … unless he forces his way into an NHL trial run.

Left wing

Age Sept. 15
Cap hit
Through

Artturi Lehkonen
29
$4.5M
2027

Jonathan Drouin
29
$2.5M
2025

Gabriel Landeskog
31
$7.0M
2029

Miles Wood
29
$2.5M
2029

Parker Kelly
25
$830K
2026

Jere Innala
26
$870K
2025

Chase Bradley
22
$870K
2026

(Can’t see chart in mobile? Click here.)

Convincing Jonathan Drouin to run it back for another year in Denver at a below-market rate was a big step toward potentially being a no-doubt Stanley Cup contender … once things are sorted with Landeskog and Nichushkin.

A season of good health for Artturi Lehkonen would also be a huge boost for the Avs. He’s missed 55 games over the …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports

      

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