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Weekly Watercooler: August Really Sucks

Cole and AJ sit down and realize how little there is to talk about during the summer doldrums of the NHL off-season.

Rich Lam

It's been a while since Cole and I really had a chance to sit down and talk about anything NHL related because things have slowed to a significant crawl but we've got enough from the past month to talk about a couple of things this fine day.

Well AJ. With #HayesWatch over we could be in for a long few weeks without any real hockey news.

AJ: Gives everyone a chance to watch some of the exciting playoff races developing in baseball. I'm actually being serious.

Cole: I don't know about playoff races, but I think I'm going to the Cubs game at Wrigley this Friday. It's the closest I can get to a Winter Classic anytime soon.

AJ: Well with the NHL clearly hating the Avs, it probably will be.

Cole: Colorado isn't for outdoor hockey AJ, or apparently for college hockey. Folin? Stastny? Now Hayes? What's with these college boys giving Colorado the snub?

AJ: The Avs were always an awkward fit for Hayes, an East Coast guy through and through who was reportedly looking to play in the NHL this season. Folin would have been a fit in every aspect but why sign with the Avs when you can go to Minnesota and get Wild? No comment on Stastny. I'd rather just leave it be and move on. Colorado has always been a tough place to attract free agents across all sports (sans football where the Broncos have no issues in FA) as the big hits are few and far between and the number of times Colorado sports teams have been left at the altar or flat left behind is significant. In hockey, we're just a cow town with terribly cold weather to the boys back East and everyone else is from Minnesota so the Avs are always going to fight that uphill battle.

Cole: It's that New York magic at play too. Hayes wants to play this season? Realistically, in Colorado he would have had to outplay 2 of Bordeleau, McLeod, Talbot, and Briere to do so. In New York he's starting off behind Nash, St. Louis, and Stempniak battling Tanner Glass's 3-year contract for ice time. But you get to play at MSG so that makes it all better I guess.

I love that we were in this to the end, and I love that we've been aggressive this summer in trying to restock the cupboard. The Avs have actively pursued college guys (Hayes/Folin), overage guys (Corbett/Henley), and European guys (Rendulic/Everberg). That's all great, but if you hold onto your draft picks (hello 2nd round) and draft well, then you don't have to hinge so much of your success on these potential diamonds in the rough.

As for Hayes? I think he would have been a great fit here for the exact reasons I was interested in Iginla and Pouliot this summer. The Avs could use a better mix of size in their top 9 and he had good potential to strengthen that group moving forward.

AJ: I do like that the Avs have looked at their prospects and said "Okay, these guys aren't cutting it" and are attacking their pipeline from all different avenues that are open to them. It's really encouraging that the Avs are at least thought highly enough of to be in these races until the end. We're bound to win one or two of these things someday and winning is great.

For the first time in a long time (maybe ever?), the Monsters are going to be largely stocked with guys we should really be keeping close eyes on for their future should lie with the Avs. The Euros, the overage guys, and the prospects already knocking at the door should make for an intriguing Monsters team. Finally.

Let's address the elephant in the room. Scale 1-10, how worried are you about the Barrie situation?

Cole: Oh man. I don't know. Like a 3? Personally I think that Barrie's current contract status has a lot more to do with the lockout, the cap, and the eternal battle between GM's and agents over RFA paydays than it does with Tyson Barrie. Every year it seems like more and more of these guys go late into the summer trying to dodge a bridge deal and get straight to the big money. Hell, the year after the lockout we had holdouts from Benn, Stepan, O'Reilly and Subban? Look at the list of unsigned RFA's this year. There are a LOT of guys, and a lot of guys with similar value to T-Bear.
Johansen (CMB)
DeKeyser (DET)
Niederreiter, Kuemper (MIN)
Schultz (EDM)
Krug, Reilly, Smith (BOS)
Ellis (NSH)
Schwartz (STL)
Dillon (DAL)
Smith-Pelly (ANA)
Gelinas (NJD)

AJ: You kind of just stole the exact list I was going to post but at least we're on the same page of not being worried about it. Even recent Avs history outside of O'Reilly suggests this isn't abnormal as Chris Stewart signed an RFA deal as late as September 3. Seven days later, the Avs re-signed RFA Peter Mueller. September 10! So for right now, I'd say 3 is appropriate. The only reason it's not 1 is because of Newport's involvement.

Cole: Yeah. Its a 3 for me because of Newport and because I think valuing Barrie at this point in his career is extremely difficult.

AJ: It definitely is tough. His best two years have been abbreviated, either because of the lockout or because he was toiling away in the minors after a very unimpressive start to the season. That's kind of the concern with Barrie moving forward. We've seen how he plays when all cylinders are firing, his confidence is high, and he's got everything going his way. What's he going to be like when that magic inevitably disappears and he goes through a point-scoring drought? We have no idea what "Staring down adversity" Tyson Barrie looks like yet. Last year when Duchene went through his obscene goal-scoring drought of 20+ games, he still managed to rack up assists at nearly a point per game pace.

Cole: I'll start to worry once half that RFA list disappears and Barrie is still unsigned. For now? It's just business as usual

What was not business as usual was PK Subban going through arbitration and signing a monstrosity of a deal with the Canadiens a day later. PK Subban for $9M per season. Good or bad for the Habs?

Cole: I say good deal. PK Subban is the real deal. He's an absolute game breaker, he's a franchise guy, he's going to play 27 minutes a night in the playoffs. If Toews and Kane are worth $10.5 million dollars a year EACH then I have no issue with Subban making $9M.

AJ: I agree with that the Subban deal fits into the new world of superstar contracts. It makes me nervous for MacKinnon's post-ELC deal because it's going to be the Golden Gate of bridges if he becomes who we all believe he's going to. Subban is the face of the Habs and will be one of the faces of the NHL moving forward. His ebullience is infectious he carries it with him on and off the ice. There is no better example of what the NHL would like to be moving forward than PK Subban. His play on the ice speaks for itself but his contributions off it could dwarf a career that's likely going to bring another Norris or two home with him.

Cole: There is one major downside to the Subban deal.

AJ: We can't trade O'Reilly for him anymore?

Cole: Thats the one. At least I like the look of those Habs jerseys.

AJ: Well, according to Fear the Fin, the Avs are so clueless that trading O'Reilly straight up for Tyler Bozak is not beyond the realm of possibility. And the Avs are the clueless ones.

News of the Denver Cutthroats opting for dormancy this season broke in the middle of this. What thoughts do we have?

Cole: I didn't go to many fish games (sorry, I guess this is part my fault) but man did I have a fun time when I did. What a great environment to see a game, what a fun little arena, and what a shame that this team which just lost in the CHL finals is getting shut down

AJ: The Cutthroats were a great upstart during the lockout and always a great time to go to. I loved being in the Coliseum with friends and enjoying hockey on a night when the Avs weren't busy. I even occasionally chose to enjoy the Cutthroats in person over watching the Avs on the road. It's a shame they weren't able to stick around and really develop a foothold in the city. I guess this helps to explain the recent affiliation with the ECHL team. Blah. This feels shitty.

Charles Wang sold the Islanders! Transition period will take two years and then the new group will fully take over operations of the team. New ownership not afraid to spend money and a shiny new arena in Brooklyn. Has the sleeping giant been awoken?

Cole: Oh that's right. That's some big news for you tortured Islanders fan. I do wonder how new ownership feels about the commitments to Grabovski and Kulemin. Generally I'm ok with both of those deals, but if that's a franchise ready to throw some money around 2 years from now, those two guys could get in the way of that. Regardless they are stacked in the prospect department and it's going to be hard for them to avoid success much longer.

AJ: I don't have any issue with those contracts. The Isles have had to overpay to acquire outside talent, a trend I don't see continuing, but have been very prudent in locking up their in-house guys to longer deals for very cheap prices. For example, Ryan O'Reilly is paid more than John Tavares. Who would you rather have? Yeah. Travis Hamonic makes slightly more than Jan Hejda. The cheaper deals really help balance out those big-money contracts they have to give guys in FA to play for them. This is the same team that offered Iginla 4 years and he still balked.

As far as ownership goes, after the Lighthouse Project failed so miserably, the writing was always on the wall for Charles Wang. All this probably does is create an era of accountability for Garth Snow that hasn't really existed to this point.

Cole: I think that just about does it. Just a few weeks left AJ.

AJ: (grimly nods)