clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Offseason playbook: Forwards

I looked at the defensemen and goaltender situation yesterday, and now get down to the main course - forwards. This is the position that has the potential for the most change, and not all of that is due to the will-they-or-won't-they status of {{sakic}} and {{forsberg}}.

The Avs currently have 8 forwards under contract for next season, with salary cap numbers in parentheses.

  • {{smyth}} ($6,250,000)

  • {{hejduk}} ($3,900,000)

  • {{arnason}} ($1,675,000)

  • {{lappy}} ($1,150,000)

  • {{stastny}} ($850,000)

  • {{hensick}} ($850,000)

  • {{jones}} ($550,000)

  • {{guite}} ($475,000)

All told, that's $15,700,000 in salary. However, Stastny will be a restricted free agent next summer, so one would assume that sometime this summer he will sign one of those big, long contracts that have become all the rage in the NHL lately.

There are also several key restricted free agents, most of whom I'd expect back in the ugly uniforms next year ('07-'08 salary in parentheses):

  • {{svatos}} ($1,200,000)

  • {{wolski}} ($860,000)

  • {{mccormick}} ($475,000)

  • {{richardson}} ($600,000)

  • {{mcleod}} ($490,000)

I assume Richardson is done in Denver (I'll stay off my soapbox on this one, but I think everyone knows how I feel about this). I think Wolski, Svatos and McLeod are good bets to return next year, although the first two will likely be seeing a nice pay increase.

As for the UFAs:

  • {{sakic}} ($6,750,000)

  • {{forsberg}} ($5,000,000)

  • {{brunette}} ($1,600,000)

  • {{hlinka}} ($600,000)

  • {{smith}} ($500,000)

  • {{parker}} ($475,000)

I think most everyone knows the drill here. If Sakic decides not to hang up the skates, he'll be back with the Avs. The same has been reported of Forsberg - and, honestly, I'd love to have him back - but I think we all should know by now that NO decision is ever guaranteed with Foppa. A couple of the local writers have speculated that Brunette is all but gone, and that's a shame. He's going to be missed both behind the net and in the locker room if he does move on this summer.

As for the other guys on the list, it's already been rumored that Hlinka would be headed back to Europe, and I'd be shocked if that didn't happen. I enjoyed watching Hlinka, but he never quite turned the corner and he didn't cross the pond to watch games from the press box. It's too bad that didn't work out for Hlinka or the Avs, but it was a risk worth taking for both parties. I hope the team continues to make moves like that in the future. I'm sure Wyatt Smith is gone and it's a pretty good bet The Sheriff will be riding off into the sunset as well.

So, how does the free agent market look? In a word: old. A lot of the "big" names - Jagr, Shanahan, Weight, Roberts, Fedorov, Sundin, and on and on - seem on the verge of retirement. Marian Hossa seems poised to be the big fish, but guys like Brendan Morrison, Pavol Demitra, Miro Satan, Markus Naslund, Brian Rolston, Ryan Malone, Radim Vrbata, and the beloved Sean Avery seem to top what appears to be a rather thin list. I have to admit, other than Rolston and Malone, I don't see many names out there that really get me excited. If there's one positive that we got out of the Wings series, though, it's that TJ Hensick and David Jones are looking an awful lot like guys ready to have an impact in the NHL, so perhaps Francois Giguere can focus on depth here rather than impact players.

The cap next year is rumored to be in the $55 million to $58 million range. By my math, the Avalanche have $29.5 million already invested in salaries to 14 players, leaving about $25 million to sign free agents (including RFAs like Svatos and Wolski). The Avalanche also have to extend Stastny this summer, although if I understand the CBA correctly (and there's a good bet that I don't) his extension wouldn't affect his cap number this year. If Foote re-signs and Sakic returns (please) there's a big chunk of change gone. No matter what, this rather meh free agency crop will force Giguere to be careful with his spending this summer. So, maybe we will see Wyatt Smith in an Avalanche unipron again...