The Colorado Avalanche have agreed to a four-year, $14-million deal with J.T. Compher, to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The 24-year old forward will be entering his third full NHL season this fall. Last season, Compher produced career highs in goals (16), assists (16), and points (32) in 66 games. He also had four goals and six points in 12 playoff games.
Compher began the 2018-19 season on fire with three goals in his first five games before having his hot start derailed by a high-hit from Sam Bennett of the Calgary Flames. The hit caused him to miss the next 14 games with a concussion.
Compher is able to play both wing and center - a versatility that is needed given that he is one of only three Avalanche forwards with a right-handed shot. He spent a lot of time on the second penalty kill unit last season and fits into that Avalanche system perfectly with his blend of speed and two-way play.
He is also one of the team’s streakiest forwards and is prone to suffering through long stretches without contributing offensively. In March and April last season, Compher was able to muster only one point through a 16-game span. The Avs are going to need him to find some consistency with his offensive output this coming season.
Drafted 35th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013, Compher was acquired as a part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade in 2015. With this four year term, Joe Sakic is showing a commitment to the player as a part of the team’s future. After the departure of Carl Soderberg earlier this summer, Compher is likely to be counted on as the regular third line center behind Nathan MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri with an expanded role on the PK.
Interestingly, the four year contract with an AAV of $3.5m is the same deal Alexander Kerfoot agreed to with the Toronto Maple Leafs after the Avalanche moved him as a part of the Kadri trade.
The contract means the Avalanche and Compher will avoid an arbitration hearing that was scheduled for July 31st. After getting Compher locked up, the Avalanche now have a little more than $17 million of cap space with RFAs Mikko Rantanen and Vladislav Kamenev still to be signed.
The Avalanche also announced this morning that they have signed 2018 draft pick Brandon Saigeon to an AHL contract.
Saigeon recently finished a five-year career in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals, Hamilton Bulldogs and Belleville Bulls. During that time time in junior, he scored 105 goals and 146 assists in 304 games. Selected in the fifth round as an overager last summer, Saigeon will now have some time in Loveland to prove that he is worth of an NHL contract down the road.