As the Avalanche front office are reluctant to open up their checkbook while they negotiate a new contract for Nikita Zadorov, most of everyone else is signed for the next year. Who isn’t quite earning their dollars? Who is playing well above their pay grade? Luckily, the Avs are in a good position when it comes to space on the salary cap, so none of these guys are necessarily paralyzing financially. Keep in mind, the Avalanche underperformed last year, plain and simple. Yes, the Avalanche are a bad team, but they are ‘48 points’ bad. Note: This only takes last year’s performance into consideration and excludes Entry Level Contracts.
Carl Soderberg, Center - $4,750,000
When the Avalanche signed Carl Soderberg in the 2015 offseason, they were looking for a replacement for Ryan O’Reilly at Center. At a healthy 5 year, $4,750,000 AAV, Soderberg looked to be a solid pick up. In the 2015-2016 season, he seemed up to the task, scoring a career high 51 points. Fast forward to last season, bouncing between the second, third, and sometimes even the fourth line, Soderberg scored just 14 points in 2016-2017 for a huge drop in points in the previous season. The Avalanche paid Soderberg $339,285 per point last season...Yeah…
Joe Colborne, Center - $2,500,000
Joe Colborne looked to be a great signing after netting an impressive opening game hat trick. After that game, however, Colborne managed to net just 1 goal, 4 assists, all while being mediocre defensively. I can definitely see that Colborne earned his contract the season before. 44 points on a young Calgary team is nothing to scoff at and, if he could have kept up that pace, his contract would have been a steal. Alas, the Avalanche is where free agents go to under perform and get paid.
Gabriel Landeskog, Left Wing - $5,571,000
While not necessarily performing poorly, Gabriel Landeskog has not developed into either of the traditional Power Forward archetypes that he was touted to. He has not shown the silky hands, amazing vision, and sniper shot of a Rick Nash, nor has he shown the willingness to fight his way to the front of the net and stay there, becoming every goalies nightmare like a Wayne Simmonds either. Sure, he will throw a big body check and never shy away from a fight, but he is only ever good for 50-60 points. I understand that not every Power Forward can be the prototypical Jamie Benn, but Landeskog looks to be heading in the way of Dustin Brown instead. A serviceable second/third line winger seems to be where Landeskog’s ceiling lays. Is that worth Landeskog’s $5,571,000 price tag? You tell me.
Mark Barberio, Defense - $700,000
One of two great waiver pick ups for the Avs this season, with Matt Nieto being the other, Mark Barberio proved himself to be well worth his new, one-year $700,000 deal. He was one of the few bright spots of last season seeing as he is one of the four defenseman returning, the other three being Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, and hopefully Nikita Zadorov.
Sven Andrighetto, Right Wing - $1,500,000
Acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade that saw Andreas Martinson going the other way, Sven Andrighetto performed at almost a point-per-game pace with the Avalanche. Andrighetto was given a 2 year ‘prove it’ contract worth $1,500,000 AAV. This could potentially be a steal if he can keep up anything close to this pace next year.
Nail Yakupov, Right Wing - $875,000
Yes, Nail Yakupov is a bust. Yes, he had 8 points in 40 games with the St. Louis Blues last year. While Yakupov is never going to live up to his first overall hype, he is well worth the $875,000 the Avalanche will pay him this season. His situation with the Blues was a little goofy. He was in and out of the lineup, bounced between lines, and never had any consistency. Don’t get me wrong, he did not earn his spot on that team, especially with the log jam on the wings they have currently. Focusing on his time in Denver, Yakupov will get consistent playing time on this team. If he can get the chance to work on his puck skills, learn not to skate faster than his hands can handle, and continue to improve his defensive capabilities, this signing could look like the steal of the offseason. Yakupov is definitely a project. A big one. But at this term and dollar amount, he is an incredibly low risk, middling reward player. What’s not to love?
What do you think? Completely disagree with me? Yell at me in the comments!