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MHH Mailbag Part 2: Goalies, Top-6 Forwards and Contract Extensions

How much will Mikko Rantanen and Nikita Zadorov cost?

NHL: Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In Part 1 of this week’s mailbag anything from the Ryan O'Reilly trade to what the Colorado Avalanche blueline will look like next season. We had too many questions for just one post, so here is the second half of the mailbag.

At the end of the season, Joe Sakic mentioned that he wants to stay the course - that youth is the way he’d be building this team. That said, this lineup would be drastically improved if he looked to bring in a top-6 forward in free agency this summer.

Everyone wants John Tavares - and the Avalanche could probably make a pretty good pitch to him - but landing the biggest unrestricted free agent ever might be a little too far-fetched (maybe). Beyond Tavares, there are a few other UFA forwards that the Avs might have interest in.

One name that comes up a lot is James van Riemsdyk. The 29-year old had 36 goals last season and would definitely fit the need for a second line winger. He’s a big net presence that scores most of his goals in close. From an on-ice perspective, JVR would be a great fit. Unfortunately, he’s likely going to get a contract that is far too long - and that’s something the Avs should try to avoid.

Another name out there is Evander Kane. He is three years younger than Van Riemsdyk and would bring a lot of the same positives to the lineup. He would fit in well both from a talent and age perspective. That said, Kane has not endeared himself to teammates all that well in the past and he might bring some added distraction that Sakic wants to avoid.

Going into next season, goaltending is going to be one of the biggest questions for the Avalanche. Semyon Varlamov can’t stay healthy, Jonathan Bernier doesn’t have a contract for next season and Spencer Martin simply isn’t very good.

The signing of Pavel Francouz from Europe only further complicates things. The team gave him a one-way contract, leaving some to believe that he’s guaranteed a spot in the NHL. The more likely scenario is that Francouz knows he’s going to spend some time in the AHL and his agent simply wanted to ensure that he was getting a strong enough paycheck to justify coming over to North America.

I could see a scenario in which Jonathan Bernier is brought back on another one-year contract. He served as a decent fill-in when Varly got hurt last year, but he’s got injury (and consistency) issues of his own.

There are other backup options out there this summer, guys like Anton Khudobin, Michael Hutchinson and Carter Hutton are available and would all be able to fill the same role Bernier did last season.

This is an interesting one. Both Mikko Rantanen and Nikita Zadorov have one year left on their contract but they can sign extensions any time after July 1st.

Both players are coming off of breakout seasons so signing them now might not be the best idea. The problem with waiting until they are RFAs next summer is that there is a good chance both take an even bigger step in their development and will cost even more.

I wrote last month about how the Avs would be smart to lock up Rantanen long term. It’s reasonable to believe that the young Finn could get somewhere north of $7m dollars a season. The most logical comparisons are the contracts signed last summer by David Pastrnak ($6.67m) and Leon Draisaitle ($8.5m).

As far as Zadorov goes, it might be beneficial to wait a little longer to sign him to an extension. The 23-year old took a big step this past season, but it’s still only one good year. The Avalanche might want to see if he can continue his progression.

If we are looking at comparables for Zadorov, the recent contracts that would be relevant are Erik Gudbranson ($4m for 3 years), Michael Matheson ($4.875m for 8 years), Brian Dumoulin ($4.1m for 6 years) and Damon Severson ($4.166m for 6 years). Based on those four contracts we should probably expect any extension for Zadorov to come in around $4-4.5m a season.