And on the 12th day of free agency, our true love gave to us...well, probably still nothing. We're almost two weeks into a free agency anti-frenzy. Ilya Kovalchuk is still unsigned and the biggest name the Avalanche have brought in is Jason Bacashihua.
There's no point in debating the whole "building from within" policy; you either buy it or you don't. But I do think it's worthwhile to point out that there are still unrestricted free agents on the market who could help the Avalanche. Kovalchuk, of course, is Exhibit A, but I lack the stamina to continue to beat that drum. *Sigh* With the big rush of free agency over, the price tag for some of these guys might just be low enough to make pursuit worthwhile.
Pavol Demitra. I can feel you rolling your eyes, but hear me out. The 35-year old Demitra is a skilled player with a history of having trouble staying healthy, as the 28 games played last year can attest to. But he scored 53 points in 69 games 2 seasons ago. And since the Avalanche are deep, rebuilding and overloaded with cap space, losing Demitra to an injury wouldn't be all that catastrophic. He could be a very good risk / reward signing.
Alexander Frolov. I still feel that Frolov's skill level is high enough to overcome a decided lack of consistency to date in his career. He's probably the most talented forward on the market behind Kovalchuk. Would he be a gamble? Absolutely. Luckily, the Avalanche have enough cap space that a losing gamble isn't going to handcuff them.
Lee Stempniak. Stempniak represents a gamble as well. Are you getting the guy who's scored 27 goals in two of his 5 seasons or the guy who failed to score 15 in his other three seasons? He'd still be a nice addition if the price is right.
Darcy Tucker. Just throwing that in there to see if anyone's paying attention.
Raffi Torres. We've talked about Torres quite a bit here at the M Double H Ranch. My opinion of him hasn't changed; I still believe he could be a solid addition for the Avalanche.
Willie Mitchell. Mitchell is still available and still, in my book, an excellent fit for the Avalanche.
Jay McKee. McKee is a 6'4" defensive only guy, similar to Mitchell. I really think a player like Mitchell or McKee would improve the Avs defense significantly.
Andy Sutton. Sutton remains a solid target - a physical veteran who wouldn't break the bank. Did I mention he's 6'6?
Denis Grebeshkov. Grebeshkov is a good all-around defenseman - someone who has both offensive talent and some physicality to his game. He made $3.1 million last year and told the Predators he wasn't interested in signing for less before the start of free agency, so he may not have moved into bargain status...yet.
Nick Boynton. There are few NHL players I like less than Nick Boynton. Really. But the 6'2" vet could be a good Ken Klee-like depth signing for the Avs...as much as it would make my stomach turn.
Paul Mara. Mara is not going to solidify the Avs' struggling defense, but he's big (6'4", 220) and isn't afraid to use that size. He could be another intriguing depth option.
Not many superstars on the list, but still some names who could help the Avalanche next year if the price is right.