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Mile High Mailbag: Realistic Targets for Free Agency & How Far Away is Cale Makar

We answer your Twitter questions

It’s my first week on the job and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t learning as I go - both about the Avalanche organization and as a manager of the site. One way I feel that would help me learn more about the team and community - as well as help you all learn about my perspective on the Avs and hockey as a whole - is to do a weekly mailbag where I answer questions from Twitter users.

Without further ado, here is my first attempt at the Mile High Mailbag.

I would guess no. Trading away Ryan Murphy and Eddie Lack frees up about $2m for the Canes to work with - and for a team that works with an internal budget, that could be significant. With the departure of Murphy, the Canes still have 6 NHL defenders with both Hayden Fleury and Roland McKeown looking like they could be ready for the NHL next season. The Canes are definitely still looking to add scoring up front and moving one of their young defenders is the way to do it. A trade centered around Matt Duchene and either Justin Faulk or Noah Hanifin might be more realistic today than it was yesterday - especially since Carolina now has more money to work with.

I can’t see how. Bob McKenzie of TSN - who is one of the best insiders in hockey - has mentioned on more than one occasion that he is working under the assumption that Matt Duchene has played his last game with the Avs. With more and more reports coming out that Duchene’s management team aren’t happy with Joe Sakic and the way the front office is handling the situation, I can’t see things going back to the way they were. Duchene is on his way out, it’s just a matter of what kind of return the team can get for him.

I think the organization tried to rectify the deficiency defensive depth at this year’s draft. Cale Makar and Conor Timmins, instantly became Colorado's best two defensive prospects - the problem is that they’re both a couple years away from making an impact at the NHL level. In the meantime, there isn’t a whole lot to look forward to. Duncan Siemens is a guy whose development the organization has to be very disappointed with. Of the guys in the AHL, Chris Bigras is the one that I think can be a regular in the NHL soon, but he is far from elite and more likely to be a mainstay on the bottom pair.

In terms of goaltending, the team lost their best one to Vegas in the expansion draft. Calvin Pickard is really good and was probably undervalued by the organization.

They absolutely will not. The Vegas Golden Knights are going to be bad - really bad. I know that I wasn’t around for the doom and gloom of last season but anyone that looks at Colorado’s roster can tell that they are significantly better than the expansion team in the desert. I also think that this is the season that finally Vancouver goes into full sell mode - there is every possibility that they are significantly worse than the Avs.

Realistically? Yikes, it’s hard to imagine many players choosing to come play for the worst team in the league unless they’re wildly overpaid. One guy I could see the team throwing some decent money at is Michael Stone. The right-handed defender had a rough season last year split between Arizona and Calgary. He missed a lot of camp with an injury and never seemed to get his season started properly - not to mention he had newborn twins at home, that would drain on anyone’s mental energy. He wasn’t good, but in the right role, I feel he could be a decent 4th defender. Luckily - as of today - the Avs still have Johnson and Barrie on the right side, so Stone won’t be asked to play too far over his head in the lineup.

As far as goaltenders go, personally I would sign Steve Mason with the promise that he can compete for the starter’s role - he’s good but for some reason still undervalued in the league. That’s not very realistic, so I could see the Avs going after a proven backup like Darcy Kuemper.

Up front, it becomes a little more tricky. The team is bad, but there is a lot of high-end talent up there, especially with Rantanen and Jost looking to establish themselves as regular impact players. With that said, I could see the team going after a depth forward like Peter Holland to fill a 4th line role. A guy I think the Avs should be after is Brandon Pirri. He is a guy that can bring a lot to the bottom-6 and work as a compliment to the big guys up front.

There are going to be people who look at Cale Makar as a top5 pick and think he has a chance to jump right into the NHL with the Avs. He doesn’t. Makar is going to spend next season playing at UMass (Amherst), where he hopes to show what he can do against stiffer competition. Playing in the AJHL last season, Makar has not even played regularly against high-end junior competition. He’s got at least one step to go before making the jump to the pros. My bet is that the Avs are hoping he takes the Tyson Jost path of a year in the NCAA before joining the NHL, but I think even that is a little too ambitious. I wouldn’t expect Makar to be a regular in the NHL until the 2019-20 season.