Certain Colorado Avalanche fans and pundits aren’t too thrilled with the team’s offseason thus far.
We’re dealing with the worst team in the cap era. A 48-point franchise that reached the bottom of the basement in December and somehow went lower. It’s going to take more than one offseason to climb out from under the….avalanche.
What did people expect?
There was no franchise changer on the market this year. Alexander Radulov, the best forward available, is a 30-year-old winger who scored 54 points last season. He wanted a long-term deal worth big money. The Avs would have been foolish to oblige. The team was reportedly courting Kevin Shattenkirk, the best defenseman available, but he clearly wanted to play in New York based on the contract he signed.
The Avs could have signed both of those guys and they still aren’t a playoff team.
What did we complain about at the end of last season? That the team didn’t call-up young players in the AHL soon enough. That J.T. Compher, A.J. Greer, Anton Lindholm, and Duncan Siemens sat in the AHL for too long while Blake Comeau, John Mitchell, and Cody Goloubef played minutes for the big club.
Now you want the team to sign a mid-level name free agent when they haven’t signed a useful free agent in five years? In fact, the last time the Avs failed to make a free agency splash (2013), they made the playoffs. That’s unlikely to happen this year, but it just goes to show how overrated spending in free agency is when you’re 50 pieces away from completing the puzzle.
“But how are they going to sell tickets?” is what some are asking. Well, they were in the bottom ten in terms of attendance during their magical 2013-14 season, so that’s a pretty loaded question. Typically, winning sells tickets. But given what I just cited, it doesn’t appear to be the magical cure in Denver. Stars sell tickets, but there were no stars in free agency. Maybe Jaromir Jagr would sell some tickets, but that doesn’t exactly help the long-term scope of the franchise, which is what Joe Sakic is rightfully focused on.
The Avs added a solid backup goalie for when Semyon Varlamov inevitably gets hurt and traded nothing for Colin Wilson - an expensive but versatile forward.
Sakic improved the club during the first weekend of free agency. No, he didn’t make a major splash. But there was no major splash to be made. And there was no reason to sign guys for the sake of signing guys, taking a potential lineup slot from one of the young players that we’re all so desperate to see.
Yes, he still hasn’t traded Matt Duchene. But, either that will come or they’ll go into next season with a talented scoring forward. There’s no urgency to trade Duchene. There shouldn’t be an urgency to trade Duchene on July 4th.
By doing little thus far, Sakic has done plenty.