A brilliant Avalanche blogger speculated just the other day that it was "plausible and possible" that Jay McClement would be moving on this offseason, and Adrian Dater has done the legwork to confirm this suspicion. According to Dater, McClement is expected to hit the open market this summer.
There are a few possible reasons behind this. The Avalanche have three strong centers on the roster and the two most viable forward prospects in the system - Joey Hishon and Brad Malone - are also capable centers. As I mentioned the other day, the Avalanche need an offensive boost this summer, and allowing McClement to walk frees up a roster space (and some cash) to allow the Avs to bring in a player. Also, McClement is 29 years old, very close to the mandatory Menudo retirement age. Or, perhaps the Ontario native is simply looking for an opportunity to move closer to home.
All that is well and good, but it does create a question mark regarding the penalty kill. McClement was a key player on the PK last year and was one of the reasons the kill improved from 30th overall to 12th. He led all Avalanche
forwards all Avalanche skaters in SH ice time last year with 3:06 per game, the most SH ice time by an Avalanche forward since the 2005-2006 season (when Ian Laperriere, Steve Konowalchuk and Antti Laaksonen all averaged more than 4). Only two NHL players had more PK ice time last year - Tomas Pleskanic and Maxime Talbot.
With McClement leaving, it sounds like the Avs will need to lean more on players like Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny - which may not be optimal.
|Player||Team||Pos||GP||SH TOI||SH TOI/G|
|David Van Der Gulik||COL||L||25||26:13:00||1:02|
The Avalanche could go the free agent route here, so below is a list of the top 25 UFA forwards in terms of PK ice time last year. Ironically (or not) 4 of the top 10 players are former Avs. With the exception of Zach Pipedream, no one here is going to boost the Avs' offense much, nor will they make the Avs any younger.
|McClement, Jay "||C||29||COL||80||10||7||17||-8||3.10|
|Hall, Adam "||C||31||TBL||57||2||5||7||-11||2.86|
|Gaustad, Paul "||C||30||NAS||70||7||14||21||-1||2.74|
|Winnik, Daniel "||L||27||SAN||84||8||15||23||-11||2.44|
|Dupuis, Philippe "||C||27||TOR||30||0||0||0||-2||2.43|
|Moen, Travis "||L||30||MTL||48||9||7||16||-3||2.35|
|Winchester, Jesse "||C||28||OTT||32||2||6||8||2||2.22|
|Slater, Jim "||C||29||WIN||78||13||8||21||-9||2.21|
|Pahlsson, Samuel "||C||34||VAN||80||4||13||17||-2||2.16|
|Smyth, Ryan "||L||36||EDM||82||19||27||46||-5||2.15|
|Stoll, Jarret "||C||29||LAK||78||6||15||21||2||2.04|
|Parise, Zach "||L||27||NJD||82||31||38||69||-5||1.95|
|Hecht, Jochen "||C||34||BUF||22||4||4||8||1||1.82|
|Dvorak, Radek "||R||35||DAL||73||4||17||21||-16||1.81|
|Darche, Mathieu "||L||35||MTL||61||5||7||12||-4||1.79|
|Glass, Tanner "||L||28||WIN||78||5||11||16||-12||1.78|
|Pandolfo, Jay "||L||37||NYI||62||1||2||3||-14||1.76|
|Halpern, Jeff "||C||36||WAS||69||4||12||16||-1||1.74|
|Nichol, Scott "||C||37||STL||80||3||5||8||-5||1.69|
|Prust, Brandon "||R||28||NYR||82||5||12||17||-1||1.66|
|Moore, Dominic "||C||31||SAN||79||4||21||25||-18||1.63|
|Crabb, Joey "||R||29||TOR||67||11||15||26||1||1.57|
|Conner, Chris "||R||28||DET||8||1||2||3||2||1.50|
|Hagman, Niklas "||L||32||ANA||71||9||14||23||-7||1.48|
|Moss, David "||R||30||CGY||32||2||7||9||-3||1.47|
The Avs' penalty kill had been an Achilles's heel for years, finishing in the bottom 3rd of the league for 5 years running before finally reversing course last year. If McClement truly is gone (and I have no reason to doubt the news), it will be a challenge to replace him. As the Avs continue to build, it would be a tough hit to see the PK slip back to putrid levels again.