#16 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
Mar 12, 1986
2011 Cap Hit: $1,450,000
2012 Status: UFA
After a very rocky start in Colorado following his trade from the St. Louis Blues, Jay McClement found his game a month into the season and never looked back. McClement settled in very nicely as Colorado's sometimes 3rd but usually 4th line center and he became the team's most reliable PK forward with the offensive emergence of Ryan O'Reilly. Often trusted to be on the ice in late game defensive faceoff situations, McClement excelled in the role and finished 44th in the NHL with a 51.3% success rate on faceoffs. On the surprise side, "Silent Jay" chipped in with a very respectable 10 goals, most of which were pretty pretty.
2012 Outlook: The Avalanche have a very busy off-season of player evaluations but re-signing McClement should be high on the list of things to get done. The Avs were very deliberate in their desire to build down the middle first and with 4 legit centers it's hard to imagine the team let's any of them walk away for nothing. At a very reasonable $1.4 million last year, I think it would be pretty surprising to see anybody, especially the Avs, give McClement a significant bump in salary but I could definitely see the team giving him a two-year deal and letting him lockdown the PK/4th line role he filled so well last year.
AJ's Take: If the Avs don't bring back McClement, I sure hope there's a good reason for it that doesn't include the word "cheap" or any of its unflattering synonyms. Jay was great for the Avs in playing the role he did and it was obvious the coaching staff trusted him when he was on the ice with O'Reilly in nearly every important defensive situation. His 17 points would be pretty easy to replace but the statistically-difficult-to-define areas of the game he contributes regularly in are not. This was the guy the Avs thought they were getting when he was included in the EJ (dat scrub) trade and the Avs would be foolish to let him walk away.
Cheryl's Take (somehow this didn't make it into the final version. I spent a full two minutes on it! It's going in.): Oh so underrated by so many Avs fans. Want to know why the penalty kill was so much better this year? It had much to do with Silent Jay. Coming in on the trade, he was billed as one of the best defensive forwards in the league. That billing was dead on. The guy was probably the most consistent and reliable player on the team. You rarely saw McClement have a bad game. I wish he garnered more Selke love, but perhaps his fourth line minutes count against him. Of course, I think more weight should be put on the fact he led the team in short-handed TOI, but what do I know? He's a UFA this season; the Avs would be boneheaded not to re-sign him.
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