With the sting of another second round playoff elimination still lingering for the Colorado Avalanche and their fans, the team has to start looking towards the offseason. In what was the most unique season in NHL history, the Avalanche fell short of the expectations of some as Joe Sakic has built them into a team that entered the playoffs as a legitimate favorite for the Stanley Cup.
Now, it’s time for the front office to shift focus to an offseason that will be unlike any other we’ve ever seen. With the draft scheduled for early October and a (hopeful) December start date for next season, teams are not going to have as much time as usual to prepare their rosters. Roster moves will likely come quicker than we’re used to.
In fact, we’ve already see a couple of trades go down during the playoffs. Jake Allen was moved out of the Central Division to the Montreal Canadiens and Kasperi Kapanen was sent from Toronto back to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft.
Joe Sakic is probably already at work trying to find a way to take that next step towards a Cup.
With only a few holes to fill and an abundance of cap space to spend, Sakic can use the absurdities of this offseason to his advantage. Other teams are going to be looking to shed salary - quickly. As a result, there are going to be a number of good players available via trade. Joe could parlay his cap space into underpaying for a player that has a little extra money on his contract but that could help the Avalanche win next season.
Someone like Kyle Palmieri who only has one year left on his contract could be a useful addition to the lineup and with his inflated contract and pending UFA status, the Devils might be willing to let him go for less than market value. With so much financial uncertainty for the league going forward, trading for a shorter term contract on a veteran might make a lot more sense than trying to sign one of the big free agents to a long term contract.
There’s also the possibility that the Avalanche buy low on a restricted free agent that is in need of a raise - like they did with Andre Burakovsky last summer. A power forward like Josh Anderson could add more physicality to a lineup that has needed it at times. He brings size and strength while also being able to score. He’s a guy that would look awfully good on the right side of Nazem Kadri on a hard-checking second line.
In an offseason where many teams don’t, the Avalanche have options. The team has been sitting on a lot of cap space for the last two seasons and now is the time to use it as an asset. Nathan MacKinnon’s contract has bought the organization a ton of flexibility but that discount only becomes worthwhile if the saved cap space is used to improve the team. The window to win is now open, so Joe Sakic needs to make the most of the advantages he has.
This Avalanche front office has shown in recent years that they aren’t afraid to make impactful moves in their pursuit to build a perennial contender - this offseason should be no different.