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So, About Next Season....

I'm tired of talking about the lockout. Are you tired of talking about the lockout? Ok, good. Let's talk about making the Avs better instead.

This mythical being is known as a "NHL hockey player".  We're going to talk about some of them today.
This mythical being is known as a "NHL hockey player". We're going to talk about some of them today.
Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Rumor has it that the cap for the 2013-'14 season could fall to $60 million to reflect the new split of HRR. Luckily for the Avs, we currently have only $54 mil committed towards the cap this season, a number that will probably go up just a bit to $57ish after Radar is signed. Even better, we only have $49.3 mil committed next year since the Duke, Kobasew, and ROB will all be UFA come July 1. No matter how it shakes out, we definitely aren't looking at a repeat of the Capocalypse of '05. The Avs, through their "cost conscious" spending, have insured that we'll be able to make it through the transition period with no problems.

Other teams aren't going to be as lucky.

NBC took a look at 10 of the most Cap-strapped teams and who they may have to move to get under the new limit. What does this mean for us? Well, we'll have cap space. They won't, and they'll be desperately looking for trading partners in order to get under the limit. Especially if amnesty buyouts aren't a feature in the new deal, the Avs could really stand to capitalize on other teams' pain. I gotta say, it feels kinda nice being on the other side of this type of mess.

Let's also not forget UFAs. This coming free-agency market could be one of the most interesting in a while since a bunch of clubs simply won't be able to afford to re-sign their players. So, with this in mind, what players should the Avs possibly target?

A group of us had a nice little discussion about this on twitter that spilled over into email. Here's what AJ had to say about it:

Since I was the firestarter here, it's only natural I start it off with my original thoughts, I guess. After reading the article and using it as a jumping off point, I really wonder if this all comes down if the Avs would make a play for Dany Heatley. Off the top of my head, he's my favorite candidate because he instantly brings firepower to an occasionally lethargic powerplay and his deal, while outrageously expensive, is only for two years, a period of time the Avs have a lot of their core still locked up and won't be doling out many more significant raises. Without immediately getting into specifics of what we would have to give up to get him, I love the idea of using any combination of Stastny/Heatley/Landy/Parenteau/Dutchy/Jones on the first PP unit. There's so much versatility and goal-scoring potential there. Heatley may not be the 40-50 goal monster of the past but he's still a legit threat on the PP, and one we haven't consistently had for a while. He's my favorite trade target.

c6hor8 has a slightly different opinion:

The Avalanche were massacred when the cap initially went into place and I have said the new CBA was a very important factor to them proverbially "hugging the floor", as people so derisively put it. Not only will the Avs be hitting the ceiling when Duchene, Landy, O'Reilly, etc get peak year contracts, but they would not let a new CBA derail their team again.

With that said, they are likely able to add someone. They are sitting at 54 million right now. Once we add in O'Reilly's contract, let's say 2 million AAV, they are around 56-57. If the cap drops to 60 million, that's not a ton of space. In fact, that's not very much space at all. In that scenario, I think they do nothing even though a lot of teams would be affected. I see them saving that space for an in-season trade or a deadline deal.

If the cap drops to 65 million, at least 6 teams are immediately affected with up to 9 more being close. Of all these teams. I think the Sharks are in the worst spot; 21 players signed and already at 65. If the Avs had 9 million of room, I think the question is a viable one.

Most people would respond to this round table question with "Oh my god lots and lots of wingers". Here's the issue though. The Avs have a ton of wingers now: Landy, Jones, Parenteau, Downie, McGinn, Hejduk. That is 3 lines worth of wings seeing as the center spots are also full. Would there be upgrades to Jones out there? Yes. However, I don't see the use of this space wasted on upgrading so much as using the cap change to steal a player. If they did go for a wing, I think the Avs must move Jones or Downie or McGinn. I think they like their forwards now, especially with Parenteau added in.

I think they go for a defenseman and ship out Wilson, O'Bryne, Hunwick, Eliott, or Barrie. As for the teams they might target, I see Chicago and San Jose sticking out. Brent Seabrook has a big 5.8 hit and that would relieve that number for 4 years. Chicago sure has to part with someone and quickly. Maybe they choose the forward route and ditch Kane, but if a defenseman is the way to go, I think the Avs jump on it.

San Jose is also a mess and the Avs have a wonderful record of swindling the Sharks. After looking a bit deeper, I think Vlasic is an option. He has a long term deal, 4 mil AAV, and that would leave them with Boyle, Burns, Stuart and Murray.

Forwards are easier to obtain at the deadline and via free agency plus I think Sherman likes hi s forward group right now. I think they add a defenseman.

I for one did a breakdown team-by-team of the clubs the article pointed out.

The way I see it, the Avs need more offense from both better wingers and better defenseman. While we could always use a bit better D, we were 15th in GA/G and 25th in G/G last year, so I'm just going to throw some names out there and see what I find.

VAN - Booth (LW, age 28, $4.25 for 3 years), Higgins (LW, age 29, UFA), Edler (LD, age 26, UFA)

MTL - Subban (RD, age 23, current RFA)

PHI - I would say Giroux because OMG Giroux, but I doubt they'd even think about moving him. So... Vorachek (RW, age 23, $4.25 for 4 years)?

BOS - Lucic (LW, age 24, $6 for 3 years w/ modified NTC), Marchand (LW, age 24, $4.5 for 4 years w/ modified NTC) sidenote: holy cow Boston has a bunch of guys with NTCs and such. About half their roster's locked up.

TBL - Stamkos! Somehow, he doesn't have a contract lock right now and I'd pay 7.5 for him in a heartbeat. But based on what we'd have to give up, maybe we should look at Hedman (LD, age 21, $4 for 4 years and a total pipe dream of mine for EJ's partner) and Percell (RW, age 27, $4.5 for 3)

PIT - Kennedy (C/RW, age 26, RFA), Dupuis (RW, age 33, UFA), Letang (RD, age 25, $3.5 for 1)

SJS - Clowe (LW, age 30, UFA), Pavelski (C, age 28, $4mil for 1 - Biggest upside here is that he'd stop scoring goals on us), and pipedream Couture (C, age 23, $2.875 mil for 1)

CHI - Stalberg (RW, age 26, UFA), Seabrook (RD, age 27, $5.8 for 3 years w/ limited NTC)

MIN - Heatley (LW, age 31) has a NMC for his current $7 mil 1 year contract that he could waive. Setoguchi (RW, age 25, $3 mil for 1 year), Brodziak (C, age 28, $2.83 for 2), and Clutterbuck (yeah, yeah, I know, RW, age 25, RFA) could also be interesting targets.

LAK - Williams (RW, age 31, $3.65 for 2), Brown (RW, age 28, $3.175 for 1)

Based on that list, I agree with c6 - trade for defenseman, sign forwards UFA. If there is any way at all to pry someone like Hedman away from Tampa via trade, that needs to be the absolute number one priority. With forwards like Higgins, Clowe, Dupuis, and Stalberg looking at UFA and Kennedy at RFA, there are certainly going to be far more forward options on the market this summer than defensive ones. Even if we have a boatload and a half of defenseman (which we do), we lack a true top pairing that can provide both solid defense and some substantial offense. We need something like that for this team to take the next step, and this Cap crisis seems like the perfect time to get it.

What do you think? Will the Avs capitalize on other teams' pain, and if so, who could you see us going after?