There are 28 players in the Colorado Avalanche organization who will be looking for new deals this summer. Some will stay within the club, others will go elsewhere by choice of their own or the team's, and some might look at hanging up their skates for the rest of their career.
Amazingly, about three-fourths of the Avalanche's season is complete. Shocking. Seems like just yesterday we were watching them
blow a 4-1 third period lead to the Wild begin what has been an up and down season yielding results better than what they've seemed to be. Let's run through the list and deliberate on the possible future of these gentlemen.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
There are ten players who fall under this category. These players will perhaps get an offer from the Avalanche before July 1st, the first day in which teams can discuss matters with free agents, but if not, on the 1st, all teams including Colorado will have a free go at these players.
Alex Tanguay: Should he be back? No. Tanguay's play this year has taken a sharp downward trajectory and been frustrating to watch with many offsides infractions, and many penalties taken early in the year. Alex, I love you, you have done amazing things for this franchise, and your jersey will hopefully be placed in the rafters one day, but it might be time to think about calling it a career with how this year has gone. Will he be back? With as many young players as the Avalanche have near the point of becoming an NHL starter, coupled with Tanguay's age, he won't be back unless Sakic feels sentimental for scoring 2 of the 3 goals in Game 7 of the 01' Stanley Cup Final.
Patrick Bordeleau: Should he be back? No. Bordeleau was a good enforcer for a stretch several years ago, and was an underrated part of the success Colorado had in winning the Central two years ago, but injuries have taken their toll and Bordeleau has struggled to contribute to the AHL team. At the age of 29, there's no real sense in bringing back Bordy and hindering younger players from developing their skills. Will he be back? No.
Jesse Winchester: Should he be back? Sadly no. Winchester looked like a nice under the radar signing in 2014, but a concussion injury prior in the 2014 preseason has prevented him from ever seeing regular season ice as an Avalanche. With his head injuries, unfortunately there's no reason for the Avalanche to take up a roster spot for someone who hasn't been able to play one meaningful game since signing. Will he be back? No.
Nate Guenin: Should he be back? Seeing him on this list brought me unparalleled joy because unless Sakic chooses to be dumb and bring back this traffic cone, we will never have to worry about him icing the puck while the opposing team makes a line change or turning it over right in front of the goaltender. Will he be back? Hahaha. No.
Marc-Andre Cliche: Should he be back? Oh boy, well, speaking of traffic cones... Hopefully not, because for the Avalanche he is as productive as a cat would be if it was dressed in a hockey uniform. He contributes at a reasonable level to the Rampage, with 6 goals and 13 assists through 34 games. Maybe I'm just so plagued by the memories of him doing dumb thing after dumb thing with the Avalanche I don't see the point in him being brought back. Will he be brought back? I honestly don't know, but at 28 years old, I would lean towards no.
Zach Redmond: Should he be back? Probably. Redmond has had a few glamorous moments at the NHL level and surely can be a starting AHL defenseman. He makes some real bonehead moves that ruin his chances of being a consistent NHL player, leading him to be scratched many times instead. He's not the worst seventh defenseman to have, and can make contributions to the Rampage, so yes, he probably should be retained. Will he be back? As long as he doesn't ask for a price that's unreasonable, I think so.
Jack Skille: Should he be back? Absolutely. Skille has been a terrific addition to the Avs this year and has been a quality addition to the third line. He's not good enough to be on the top line, but is better than most third line players, so yes, that does make him worthwhile. Will he be brought back? I firmly believe so.
Andrew Bodnarchuk: Should he be back? I don't know yet. He hasn't been awful, but not great either. He goes down as TBD. Will he be brought back? Probably gonna come down to if he does something horribly bad or amazingly great, or whether the Avs find a defenseman or two in the draft or free agency making him expendable.
Ben Street: Should he be back? Another guy who's TBD. He's seen some NHL action before and manages to be 12th in the Rampage this year in points even having only played 6 games. That comes as a result of injury which has sidelined him for some time now. Will he be back? If he comes back to play some hockey this season and looks alright, I think he will be retained. If the injury keeps him out for the remainder of the season, at 29 years old and a questionable future health-wise, it's more up in the air.
Maxim Noreau: Should he be back? Definitely. Noreau is 3rd on the Rampage in points and been wanted to be called up to the Avalanche to get a chance with the main squad. He's 28 years old and has potential to be a solid player for the Rampage for coming years if nothing else. Will he be back? I would be surprised if he wasn't.
Restricted Free Agents:
Most Avalanche free agents fall into this category. The team will get an extended chance to keep the services of these guys, but if the team no longer has the desire to use their talents, other teams will get their opportunity.
Tyson Barrie: Should he be back? Without question. Barrie is a liability defensively, but his ability to make plays on the offensive front makes him irreplaceable. Will he be back? I'm confident he will be, but not as confident as I'd like to be since the Avalanche had a more difficult time than was foreseen two seasons ago when his contract was up. I think the Avalanche know he's a cornerstone to this team's growth, however, and will be back for many years to come.
Nathan MacKinnon: Should he be back? A thousand times yes. Nathan has the potential to be one of the best players in the NHL for a very long time. With him, Duchene, and Landeskog as the team's star forwards, the Avalanche are in a good place to grow into a Cup contender sooner than later. Will he be back? No chance the Avalanche don't lock him up for a number of years and give another team the chance to grow his skills. Don't worry, he'll get a big extension and stay with the club.
Joey Hishon: Should he be back? Personally, I hope so. Hish has been a late season addition to the Avalanche each of the last two years because of injuries to other players and shown he can be a contributor. He hasn't shown it on a regular basis though, and while he is 4th on the Rampage in points, some feel his time with this franchise might be up. Will he be back? Tough to say. Maybe he'll get called up to the Avalanche again and make this an easier call. If he takes less money, I think he's a lock to stay with this team. If not, he remains as murky a decision as anyone else the Avalanche have.
Brandon Gormley: Should he be back? Well, early in the season, he was a mainstay defensively. But as the year's gone along he's seen no time in burgundy and blue and was placed on waivers in January. I lean towards no just because he didn't show much of anything noteworthy when he was playing, so it's not looking all bright and sunny for Brandon. Will he be back? Gut decision says no.
Calvin Pickard: Should he be back? For how well he's played, for sure. The trick will be to see what the Avalanche do at the trade deadline and whether or not they trade him or Reto Berra. The Avs have the chance to get a nice addition or two from somebody who really wants a stellar #2 goalie, because Pickard and Berra both fall under that category. If Picks is with the Avs after the deadline, yes, he should be back. Will he be back? Ask me after the trade deadline.
Duncan Siemens: Should he be back? Yup. He's very young at 22 and looks like a future defenseman for the Avalanche on a nightly basis. Just give him a few years until that happens. For now though, he's very good for the Rampage and needs to be held onto. Will he be back? I'm sure of it.
Andreas Martinsen: Should he be back? Totally! After a bit of a slow start at the NHL level, Martinsen has come to be a vital part of the Avs 3rd and 4th lines. He's a hard hitter and sometimes good play-maker. Will he be back? Barring a decision I frown upon, I imagine so.
Sami Aittokallio: Should he be back? Another tough one. Sami hasn't played at all for the Rampage this year, which is quite surprising since a year ago he looked like a shoe-in to be a #2 NHL goaltender someday. He's 23, so do you give him the chance to grow within the organization, or focus on what you have? This might come down to the possible Pickard/Berra trade as well. If both are kept around, Sami might be disposed of? Will he be back? TBD.
Mikhail Grigorenko: Should he be back? So much yes. Grigorenko has made two beautiful passes each of the last two games to set up goals against the Senators and wretched winged wheel. Aside from recent success, he has shown to be a solid linemate to MacKinnon and Duchene which bodes very well for the 21 year old. Will he be back? Unless the Avalanche want to make the O'Reilly trade a guaranteed win for Buffalo, yes, he will be back.
Colin Smith: Should he be back? Indeed. He's second on the Rampage in points and only 22 years old. Enough said. Will he be back? I said "Enough said"! Gosh.
Garrett Meurs: Should he be back? I don't know honestly. I'm not very familiar with him. He's been chilling in the ECHL for most of the year. He's young at 23, but not seeing any action for the Rampage might be a little concerning. Will he be back? I couldn't tell you. I'm sorry for letting you down.
Borna Rendulic: Should he be back? As long as he doesn't ask for an obscene amount of money, I hope so. He has the distinction of being the first ever Croatian to score in the NHL, doing that with the Avalanche last season against Philadelphia. So if you want an official history maker on the team, here's your boy. Will he be back? With NHL experience and solid stats with the Rampage thus far, I say so.
Dennis Everberg: Should he be back? Again, as long as he asks for a reasonable amount of money, yes. He's shown the potential to be a a nice third line player in the NHL, and he is very good at the AHL level, so there's probably something to lose if FOREVERBERG is not retained. Will he be back? I think so.
Trevor Cheek: Should he be back? Tongue in cheek response here (HAHA), but ideally he'll be kept around to a short deal of a year or 2. His Rampage stats aren't overwhelming, but he is young at 23, so a short deal would allow the Avs to see if he's got potential, or if in like 2018, he serves no real use going forward. Will he be back? Ideally.
Gabriel Beaupre: Should he be back? Once again, I don't know much about him as he's spent a strong majority of this season in Fort Wayne, but since I've said yes to lots of guys lately and not everyone can be resigned, I'm just gonna say no on this one. Will he be back? Ask a friend.
Andrew Aggozzino: Should he be back? With some NHL experience, and good Rampage stats, you know me well enough by now to say this is a yes. Will he be back? I hope so!
Chris Wagner: Should he be back? Wagner will have the opportunity to prove his future worth with the Avalanche for the rest of this season. He's scored some goals for Colorado after being claimed off waivers from Anaheim and made steady contributions. He'll never be a star player or anything, but as a depth player he might have a future. Let's see how the next two months (and maybe more) will unfold. Will he be back? TBD.
Roman Will: Should he be back? He should! He saw a bit of NHL game time when the Avs were being throttled by the Sharks last month and has good numbers for a young AHL goaltender with a 3.21 GAA and .902 save percentage. Those obviously have to be improved on, but for now he's nice to have as a #2 tender for the Rampage. Will he be back? I say yes.