Earlier, we kicked off our annual look at how the Avalanche roster may be shaping up for next year, and what that may mean to the roster at this year's February 28th trading deadline. Last year's look at the defensemen can be found here.
The Avs' situation at defense is interesting to say the least. Here's a list of the notable Avalanche defensemen currently under contract, with their cap hits:
Of that list, only Adam Foote is an unrestricted free agent this summer. I think this is probably it for Foote this year, but I thought that last year too. Additionally, Matt Hunwick, Ryan O'Byrne, Kyle Cumiskey and Ryan Wilson are RFAs this summer. I think the Ryan's are safe bets to return (thinking $1.5 range for O'Byrne and $1 million range for Wilson). Hunwick and Cumiskey? It's a crowded field with Cameron Gaunce and Jonas Holos biding their time in the AHL and Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott on the not-too-distant horizon. You have to think that the Avalanche will be reluctant to part with Hunwick so soon after acquiring him, which would seem to indicate that Kyle Cumiskey is the odd man out here.
With the depth at the position, I wouldn't be shocked if other blueliners besides Cumiskey are shopped. We talk about John-Michael Liles at every deadline. He's been excellent this year, but that strong performance and the fact that he has just one more year on his contract means that his value may be at an all-time high at the deadline. Teams are always looking for puck-moving defensemen, and it may just be that the Avalanche get an offer that they can't refuse. It wouldn't shock me to see Ryan Wilson moved either, mostly because of that aforementioned depth. The Avalanche are in a position of strength here: they have assets, they have depth, they have cap room and they don't have an urgent need to make a move. Not a bad position to be in.
Next Year's Projected Lineup:
Next Year's Projected Cap Hit: $14.3 Million