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Awaking from the nightmare - the hope springs eternal edition

Okay so this season is starting to blow big time. The Avs teased us into thinking they might be really good and are now on a "lose for Hughes" pace for the ages. Has anyone told them that they don't have to "lose for Hughes," as Ottawa can do that for them? Maybe, and perhaps this is more a "krappo for Kaapo" or "fire em for Byram" pace (I guess the latter refers to getting some of the coaching staff canned). Either way, the result could be two really high picks in a draft that has a lot of nice players at the top.

Maybe this is a good thing in the end. Did anyone really expect the Avs to win the Cup in 2019 anyway? Might as well take a step back if it results in taking a big leap forward for the future. Perhaps paying two really good players less than a million dollars for a few years puts this team on the path we are all hoping for.

With that in mind, I got to work on my latest dream scenario. This one works out so nicely that I just had to post it for all to see. I must warn you though that it's like hockey porn. Find a private area before you read any further, but then feel free to whatever you need to.

The 2019 Draft

If you crack open the Tankathon Mock Draft right now, you'll see both Hughes at #1 and Byram at #10 going to the Avs. I don't think the latter falls to the ten spot, but it also seems likely that the Avs are picking higher than #10 by the time things play out. However it happens, this is an amazing scenario for Colorado. They immediately have one of the best one-two punches in the league in Mack and Hughes, and they also come away with a guy they can pair with Makar to give them a potentially amazing top pairing on the back end. I'm drooling.

I'm assuming Hughes steps in immediately at 2C and that Byram spends a season in the AHL playing with Timmins. Delayed gratification on Byram, but the wait will be worth it.

The 2019/2020 Season

Sakic needs to get busy in the off season if this team is to compete this year and beyond. Step one is to swing a big trade with Edmonton to solidify depth scoring with respect to the forward group. Joe sends Barrie, Kerfoot, and Andrighetto (RFA) to the Oilers in exchange for Nugent-Hopkins, Puljujarvi (RFA), and Spooner (as salary dump that Colorado is willing to take on in order to sweeten the pot). Nugent-Hopkins slides onto the second line, while Puljujarvi completes a really high-potential third line with Jost and Kaut.

But wait, there's more! The team still has a ton of cap space, and can now entice a high end free agent such as, I don't know, let's just say Mark Stone, by selling them on a spot alongside Hughes and RNH. All of a sudden, depth scoring is a huge strength rather than a significant weakness.

A summary of the moves is as follows:

1. Barrie, Kerfoot, and Andrighetto's rights traded for Nugent-Hopkins, Puljujarvi's rights, and Spooner (salary dump)

2. Sign Stone and extend Rantanen, Puljujarvi, Compher, Kamenev, Zadorov, and Francouz

3. Kaut, Makar, and Meloche become regulars at this level, and both Jost and Kamenev come back healthy

4. Bourque, Varlamov, and Nemeth are gone

5. One of Nieto or Calvert are the odd men out (one should be traded)

6. Draft brings Jack Hughes and Bowen Byram (the latter paired with Timmins in the AHL for the year)

7. Tristan Jarry takes over the #1 duties in the AHL (acquired for Wilson)

Here is the lineup and the roster showing the cap situation.

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Hopkins Hughes Stone
Kaut Jost Puljujarvi
Kamenev Soderberg Compher

Girard Johnson
Zadorov Makar
Cole Meloche

Grubauer
Francouz

Salary Cap 83,475,000
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 5,571,429 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 8,875,000 Left 2018/2019 2024/2025 UFA Extended 6 years
2 Hughes C 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
2 Nugent-Hopkins C, LW 6,000,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
2 Stone RW 9,250,000 Right 2018/2019 2026/2027 UFA Extended 8 years
3 Jost C, LW, RW 885,833 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 RFA
3 Kaut LW, RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
3 Puljujarvi RW 2,000,000 Right 2018/2019 2020/2021 RFA Extended 2 years
4 Soderberg C, LW 4,750,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
4 Kamenev C 1,100,000 Left 2018/2019 2021/2022 RFA Extended 3 years
4 Compher C, RW 2,125,000 Right 2018/2019 2021/2022 UFA Extended 3 years
N/A Nieto LW, RW 1,975,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
N/A Calvert LW, RW 2,800,000 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
1 Girard LD 728,333 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 RFA
1 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Zadorov LD 3,500,000 Left 2018/2019 2021/2022 UFA Extended 3 years
2 Makar RD 925,000 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
3 Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
3 Meloche RD 853,333 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
N/A Barberio LD 1,450,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
2 Francouz G 1,450,000 N/A 2018/2019 2021/2022 UFA Extended 3 years

Total Cost 75,972,261
Dead Money 3,525,000
Cap Space 3,977,739

A few specifics. First, I am getting a little more aggressive with respect to the cap increase than I have in the past and assuming 5% annually. I can't say I'm entirely comfortable here, but the annual increase since the cap was implemented has been larger than this (over 6% per year) and we're being optimistic here. Second, the dead money consists of money owed as a result of the Orpik buyout and Spooner's buried contract. Both will be gone after this season.

The 2020/2021 Season

At this point, the heavy lifting is done. The team has an amazing group of players, and it's really just a matter of managing the cap at this point. This is actually easy during this year and the next, as the team will have a significant amount of space to work with. It's possible that Sakic brings in a veteran player to boost the lineup, but where do you put them? This team already looks stacked. However, it's certainly an option if someone like Jost or Puljujarvi were to under perform.

On that note though, I really like the looks of that third line. Surrounding Jost with players like Kaut and Puljujarvi seem like a better fit that Kerfoot and Compher, so I think there is some serious potential here. The fact that this is the third line is amazing too, as this has the look of a really good second. Hopefully they can reach their potential and scoring makes up for any deficiency in the net that may still exist. Otherwise, maybe all that cap space is best used there.

Anyway, here is a summary of the moves necessary and the situation for this year.

1. Extend Jost, Girard, and Timmins

2. Timmins and Byram become regulars at this level

3. Soderberg, Nieto, and Barberio are gone

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Hopkins Hughes Stone
Kaut Jost Puljujarvi
Bowers Kamenev Compher

Girard Johnson
Zadorov Makar
Byram Timmins

Grubauer
Francouz

Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 5,571,429 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 8,875,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
2 Hughes C 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
2 Nugent-Hopkins C, LW 6,000,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
2 Stone RW 9,250,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Jost C, LW, RW 3,200,000 Left 2019/2020 2024/2025 UFA Extended 5 years
3 Kaut LW, RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
3 Puljujarvi RW 2,000,000 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
4 Kamenev C 1,100,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 Bowers C 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 Compher C, RW 2,125,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
N/A Calvert LW, RW 2,800,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
N/A O'Connor RW 925,000 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
1 Girard LD 4,000,000 Left 2019/2020 2025/2026 UFA Extended 6 years
1 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Zadorov LD 3,500,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
2 Makar RD 925,000 Right 2020/2021 2020/2021 RFA
3 Byram LD 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
3 Timmins RD 1,650,000 Right 2019/2020 2022/2023 RFA Extended 3 years
N/A Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
2 Francouz G 1,450,000 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA

Total Cost 76,954,762
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 10,693,988

The 2021/2022 Season and the Expansion Draft

Some are going to dislike this, but the addition of Byram might make Zadorov expendable. As much as I like big Z, I see Girard and Byram as being better players in the long run. Obviously there is time to see how things actually play out, but I'm making the assumption that Z ends up in Seattle. In reality, I hope that Grubauer and Francouz turn into the clear best goalie tandem in the league and one of them is lost, but there is nothing that indicates this will be the case. As such, the specifics of the expansion draft (with respect to the Avs) are as follows:

Protected forwards: MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Nugent-Hopkins, Stone, Jost, Kamenev

Protected defensemen: Girard, Johnson, Timmins

Protected Goalie: Assuming neither will be taken regardless of who is exposed

Exempt list: Hughes, Kaut, Bowers, Byram, Makar

Lost: Big Z

The expansion draft aside, here is a summary of the moves necessary and the situation for this year.

1. Extend Landeskog, Nugent-Hopkins, Puljujarvi, O'Connor, and Makar

2. Calvert, and Cole are gone

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Hopkins Hughes Stone
Kaut Jost Puljujarvi
Bowers Kamenev Compher

Byram Makar
Girard Johnson
Prospect/FA Timmins

Grubauer
Francouz

Salary Cap 92,031,188
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 8,000,000 Left 2020/2021 2026/2027 UFA Extended 6 years
1 Rantanen RW 8,875,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
2 Hughes C 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
2 Nugent-Hopkins C, LW 7,750,000 Left 2020/2021 2025/2026 UFA Extended 5 years
2 Stone RW 9,250,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Jost C, LW, RW 3,200,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
3 Kaut LW, RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
3 Puljujarvi RW 3,000,000 Right 2020/2021 2025/2026 UFA Extended 5 years
4 Kamenev C 1,100,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 Bowers C 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 Compher C, RW 2,125,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
N/A Prospect/FA ??? 925,000 ??? 2024/2025 2024/2025 RFA
N/A O'Connor RW 1,000,000 Right 2020/2021 2023/2024 RFA Extended 3 years
1 Makar RD 6,500,000 Right 2020/2021 2026/2027 UFA Extended 6 years
1 Byram LD 925,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
2 Girard LD 4,000,000 Left 2025/2026 2025/2026 UFA
2 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
3 Prospect/FA LD 1,200,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Timmins RD 1,650,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
N/A Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA
2 Francouz G 1,450,000 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA

Total Cost 83,608,333
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 8,422,855

The 2022/2023 Season

Here is where it gets crazy. If Jack Hughes lives up to the hype, which is likely to begin with but even more likely if he's playing with guys like RNH and Stone, he will be due for a monster raise. I am being a bit optimistic here, considering that Hughes isn't necessarily a sure thing (it could by Dach, Turcotte, etc.), but this may be at least in the zip code. There are also a number of other guys due for a raise, and it's doubtful that all of them will fit in under the cap. For now, I'm leaving the cap space as a negative number and leaving it up to personal preference when it comes to how to deal with that.

Ideally, the Avs have done their job when it comes to drafting and development, which makes it easier to move on from a guy here and there. It's tough to assume that in simulations though, so I'm not going too deep into it. I am assuming Jarry is ready to be part of the goalie tandem though, even though it's unlikely to occur this far out.

Anyway, here is a summary of the moves necessary and the situation for this year. The last point is just a couple ideas on how to deal with the salary cap.

1. Extend Hughes, Kaut, Kamenev, Bowers, Compher, Byram, Francouz, and Jarry

2. Grubauer is gone

3. Trading Nugent-Hopkins becomes necessary, as the team is way over the cap (or they can trade EJ and then figure out how to pay MacKinnon next year)

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Hopkins Hughes Stone
Kaut Jost Puljujarvi
Bowers Kamenev Compher

Byram Makar
Girard Johnson
Prospect/FA Timmins

Francouz
Jarry

Salary Cap 96,632,747
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 8,000,000 Left 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 8,875,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
2 Hughes C 10,500,000 Left 2021/2022 2028/2029 RFA
2 Nugent-Hopkins C, LW 7,750,000 Left 2025/2026 2025/2026 UFA
2 Stone RW 9,250,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Jost C, LW, RW 3,200,000 Left 2024/2025 2024/2025 UFA
3 Kaut LW, RW 3,000,000 Right 2021/2022 2024/2025 RFA
3 Puljujarvi RW 3,000,000 Right 2025/2026 2025/2026 UFA
4 Kamenev C 2,000,000 Left 2021/2022 2024/2025 UFA
4 Bowers C 2,000,000 Left 2021/2022 2024/2025 RFA
4 Compher C, RW 2,000,000 Right 2021/2022 2024/2025 UFA
N/A Prospect/FA ??? 925,000 ??? 2024/2025 2024/2025 RFA
N/A O'Connor RW 1,000,000 Right 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
1 Makar RD 6,500,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
1 Byram LD 6,000,000 Left 2021/2022 2026/2027 RFA
2 Girard LD 4,000,000 Left 2025/2026 2025/2026 UFA
2 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
3 Prospect/FA LD 1,200,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Timmins RD 1,650,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
N/A Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Francouz G 3,750,000 N/A 2021/2022 2024/2024 UFA
2 Jarry G 1,350,000 N/A 2021/2022 2024/2024 UFA

Total Cost 102,500,000
Dead Money 0
Cap Space -5,867,253

As always, feel free to pick this apart. Obviously it's very unlikely that all of this comes to fruition. I must say really like this one though.

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