We're a month into the 2010-2011 NHL season and I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at the long list of guys who played with the Avalanche last year and are now with new clubs. The Avs let a lot of players leave via free agency this summer. Are there any who might still have been good contributors with the burgundy and blue? Let's find out.
Wojtek Wolski, Phoenix Coyotes. $3.8 million cap hit. Wolski has 7 points (1g 6a) in 11 games and garnered some chuckles from some MHH faithful for being a healthy scratch recently in Phoenix. Well, snicker away but those 7 points still have him on pace to score 50+ and if there's one thing we've learned from Peter Mueller, it's that Dave "Coach of the Year" Tippett is not shy about throwing good players into the doghouse. Wolski's 15:39 of average ice time well below the 18 he averaged his last two years.
Darcy Tucker, Retired. Tucker announced his retirement on October 1st. He still counts $1 million against the Leafs' cap for each of the next 4 seasons.
Brett Clark, Tampa Bay Lightning, $1.5 million. The Avalanche let Brett Clark depart this summer so they could focus on the youth movement on defense, and the recent play of Jonas Holos, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen would seem to validate that decision. Still, Clark appears to be a solid acquisition for the Lightning - he has 5 points (2g 3 a) in 13 games, he leads his team in ice time and he is once again among the league leaders in blocked shots (with 31).
Matt Hendricks, Washington Capitals. $575,000. Matt Hendricks negotiated himself out of Colorado this summer and after failing to land his big payday, ended up in Washington. He's played in all 13 games with the Caps so far, averaging 10:28 of ice time time. He has 3 points (1g 2a) in 13 games. More significantly, he has 28 penalty minutes which would put him 2nd on the Avs.
Chris Durno, Tampa Bay Lightning, $500,000. Durno followed Brett Clark to the Lightning this summer, but did not make the big league roster. He currently has 4 points in 12 games with Tampa's AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.
Ruslan Salei, Detroit Red Wings, $1.1 million. Salei has a whopping 2 points - both assists - in 12 games with the Dead Things so far this year. Perhaps more tellingly, Salei has 10 minor penalties to date - tops in the league.
T.J. Hensick, St Louis Blues, $600,000. Hensick signed a 2-way deal with the Blues about a month after getting traded to St Louis for Julian Talbot. He did not make the roster, however, and has spent the season in Peoria, where he 10 points in 9 games.
Tom Preissing, Free Agent. Preissing's story this year is an unfortunate one. After the Avalanche bought him out this summer in order to reach the cap floor, Preissing signed with a team in Finland. However, he first joined Barys Astana in the KHL on a 2-month conditioning loan and suffered a serious knee injury in his second game. He and his Finnish team reached a mutual agreement to terminate his contract and he is currently a free agent.
Darren Haydar, Chicago Wolves. Hayder signed an AHL deal with the Wolves this summer. He has 13 points in 12 games so far this year.
Wes O'Neill, Kalamazoo K-Wings. O'Neill tried out with the Hershey Bears this fall but did not make the team. Instead, he signed with Kalamazoo of the ECHL, where he has 2 points in 9 games.
Derek Peltier, Peoria Riverman. Peltier is yet another former Av who has had trouble finding work. He was invited to the Penguins camp on a tryout this fall and was later assigned to the Pens' AHL affiliate before getting released in early October. Peltier then signed with Peoria of the AHL where he has 1 point in 11 games.
Brian Willsie, Washington Capitals. $525,000. Willsie signed a 1-year deal with the Capitals, a team he spent 2 seasons with back around the lockout. He did not make the roster though and is currently down in Hershey playing with former Avs' Lawrence Nycholat and Brian Fahey and future Av Sheldon Souray (not). Willsie has 11 points in 10 AHL games.
On the whole, this list looks like a whole lot of addition by subtraction. Of the players that left via free agency, Brett Clark and Matt Hendricks are the only two that are having solid NHL seasons, but neither player represents a huge void in the Avalanche roster. The Avalanche could certainly use some roster help...but not from any of these names.