Heading into the summer signals signing season is just around the corner. With up to 15 restricted free agents to ink, should the Colorado Avalanche choose to bring them all back, the organization will be busy signing those plus upgrades on the unrestricted free agent market. We already looked at which players need a new contract and posed the question of who should return. Now the query turns to what could those contracts look like? Using EvolvingWild’s contract projections as a basis, which have been fairly accurate thus far with a very good track record in previous seasons, some targeted expectations for each free agent begin to emerge.
Restricted Free Agents
Projected Contract - 8 years x $10.1 million
Rantanen is the first name that comes to mind when talking contract needs this offseason but he may take the longest to ink as the market and comparables shake out over the offseason. The Avalanche simply don’t sign eight year contracts, although he would be a great candidate to break that mold. More likely it is that Rantanen signs for six or seven years which is projected to fall more in the $8.5 to 8.7 million range. A two-year term is a possibility should negotiations go poorly and would save in the short term but makes life more difficult when Rantanen would need a new contract when other big ticket raises are due in the next several years.
Projected Contract - 6 years x $3.9 million
Term is the most difficult aspect of contract predictions to nail and is likely off the mark here with a six-year prediction. A two-year bridge deal seems like a common expectation for all the other Avalanche first time Restricted Free Agents as they have yet to establish a consistent role and Compher falls in that category. Projections in that range slide in around $2.8 million per year, which is a fair deal for the versatile center.
Projected Contract - 2 years x $2.9 million
This sounds right on the money in both term and dollars for Kerfoot. As a player with two consecutive 40 point seasons who has three RFA years remaining, anything beyond short term would bring his contract into the four million dollar plus range. Kerfoot’s comparables will keep rising so locking him to more years now should be a consideration but his long term role on the team is still ambiguous and therefore a two-year deal likely satisfies all parties.
Projected Contract - 2 years x $2.6 million
Hardly a raise from his current $2.15 million dollar contract would not make Zadorov happy who is undoubtedly looking for a long term contract which would put him more in the four to five million range over six or more years. With arbitration rights for the first time in his career it is almost expected this one gets settled in court. A two-year term at or closer to three million might be a plausible outcome.
Projected Contract - 1 year x $0.86 million
All the other RFAs such as Vladislav Kamenev and A.J. Greer should just get one year qualifying offer extensions and Graves easily could fall under that category. With how much the Avalanche appreciated his game at the end of the season and a history of the organization quickly locking up depth to modest deals it would be no shock to see Graves receive a two year contract closer to a million dollars per year.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Projected Contract - 7 years x $10.7 million
The big fish on the market is expected to cash in. As someone who can truly select his destination it remains to be seen how much interest Panarin would have in heading west or if the Avalanche would be comfortable making this sort of offer but this is the range of what an expected deal would entail to bring in a top forward.
Projected Contract - 7 years x $8.3 million
A good alternative plan is to target Skinner who could still provide a significant offensive punch but at a more affordable rate. The term and overall contract is still a large investment plus Skinner is expected to receive plenty of interest on the market as well but he would be a good fit in Colorado.
Projected Contract - 4 years x $4.7 million
This is more typical of the type of player the Avalanche will seek out — and land. After a postseason resurgence the Avalanche could value Johansson’s playoff experience and hope he can rediscover the same scoring touch he had in Washington with a medium size investment.