The Avs' front office have intimated that they are cautious about spending due to the impending CBA. I would suggest that they are being far too cautious to the point of (maybe) being disingenuous.
According to the wonderful Capgeek.com the Avs are sitting at 29th in the league for spending with $14,898,928 in cap space. Only the Islanders spend less - $300,000 under the Avs, which is about 200k under the league minimum for a fourth-liner. Arguably, that makes a lot of sense for the Islanders, since their financial future is in doubt and they may be relocating from Nassau Colisseum.
The Avalanche have to sign a lot of players this year and some players will definitely be getting raises. All of which must be accounted for. In fact, only eight players are signed through next season - Stastny, Landeskog, Varlamov, Giguere, Kobasew, Hejda, O'Byrne and Barrie.
The big names all need a contract: Johnson, O'Reilly and Duchene. Perversely, Duchene's poor play this season (by his standards) may help the front office by reducing the amount that he would be paid. O'Reilly will get a significant increase on his $900,000 salary as will Johnson ($2,600,000). If Hejda can be paid $3.25 mil, you can bet that Johnson will get that and more.
However, even allowing for chunky pay rises (O'Reilly +$2 mil, Johnson + $1 mil, Duchene +$1 mil, all other players signed for around the same money or small pay raises) I figure it out to be an additional $4 million, (calculated on giving almost everyone a small raise - some will get it, some will not, but estimating an average). That makes a total of $8 million in extra wages. That would put the Avs 20th in the league in spending at today's figures.
Rumours are that the cap will increase next season, as it has done from it's introduction in the 05-06 season. The floor is fixed at $14 million below the cap. With the cap possibly reaching as high as $69 million next year, (with the exception of the 09/10 season (100k) and the 10/11 season ($2.6 million)), the cap has gone up around $5 million per year since it's inception. Even conservatively, a $3 million increase in the cap will negate some of that (estimated) $8 million wage increase. Plus, if the cap were to go up to $69 million, the floor would sit at $55 million and the Avs would only be a little over that.
The Avs have the lowest amount of players signed for next year, in the NHL. The new CBA needs to be thrashed out, but here is why it is a red herring argument for not signing up more players through next year:
The Avs are in one of the best situations financially, in the league. They have a ton of flexibility in terms of players signed and money available. There are 28 teams financially worse off than the Avs right now. That means that if the CBA is too harsh, there are 28 teams who will veto it before the Avs do. To argue that the Avs management want to see how the CBA goes before signing players is short sighted and stupid, because those other teams will make sure that there is a lockout before it got to a situation where it could possibly hurt the Avs.
With Donald Fehr as the NHLPA's chairman, you can bet that negotiations will be robust.
The front office could sign all the core players to healthy rises and secure the heart of the team without jeopardising a damn thing. Plus, in my opinion, players like O'Reilly and Johnson should have been extended long before now, so that there isn't such a big logjam of players needing to be signed.