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Free Agency updates and predictions for the Avalanche

We will get a real idea of how the Avs will look after this week.

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Free agency craziness has already begun for the Avs. With the signings of Andrew Cogliano, Alexandar Georgiev, and Jacob MacDonald, there have been some moves already made by Joe Sakic. He’s also let go of Darcy Kuemper for now. However, there are still plenty more to come for the Avs.

They have around $20 million left to work with to re-sign some of the guys listed below. Here’s what we last heard and the rumblings to come from each player's camp who are trying to get a new contract and paid nicely as they are now Stanley Cup champions. These are also important dates and times coming up this week for those as free agents.

Nazem Kadri

Kadri is very likely a player that already has one foot out the door. Kadri even mentioned it just minutes after winning the Cup, stating that he knows his worth and deserves to be paid, something Colorado has said will challenge them to keep Kadri in an Avs uniform.

Last rumors from the Kadri camp said that he was looking for a seven-year $9M contract. At 32, it’s certainly a risky contract to take on. Kadri is supposedly a priority to Sakic despite looking unlikely he’ll return. Unless there’s a team-friendly agreement, he likely won’t be coming back.

Artturi Lehkonen

One of the two Restricted Free Agents for the Avs, Lehkonen was very influential in the run to the Cup. He scored the series clinching goals in the Western Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final. The RFA came over from the Montreal Canadiens for what some may say was a steep price but people want him to stay.

With a current cap hit of $2.3M, he is due for a pay raise. While there was a rumor of him going around $7M AAV, that price would be way too high, especially compared to the name listed below. If he stays, it may be around the $4-$5M mark but it is up in the air to see what ends up happening in the Lehky camp.

Valeri Nichushkin

Val has and will be the priority for the Avalanche to re-sign. Negotiations have been good and work is in progress to get the deal done. With his stellar year and performance, he will get a hefty payday compared to his current $2.5M deal.

Nichuhskin has been rumored to be around the $6M mark. With free agency opening on Wednesday at noon ET, he will be looking to stay off the market and in Colorado and it looks to be heading in that direction as of right now.

Josh Manson

Manson is a player that Sakic wants to keep. However, he has other ideas as his heart still lies in Southern California. Manson looks to be returning to the Anaheim Ducks and that organization.

His family may play a big part in this, as they are still out there in Orange County. He got his Cup and performed well while doing so and wants to do what he wants to now since that childhood goal has been accomplished. While the Manson and Sakic camps spoke at the NHL Draft, who knows how much of a difference it’ll actually make.

Darren Helm

Helm is an interesting piece to look at for the Avs. There has been little to no discussion about the contract status for the 35-year-old. One of the older guys on the team acquired at the trade deadline, Cogliano, already re-signed.

Sakic may only rely on Cogliano on the fourth line and let Helm go. They did pick up college free agent Ben Meyers in the spring and he may very well end up on the fourth line come opening night. We will see with Helm by the time Wednesday rolls around.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel

The second of two RFAs is currently loving life as a whole. He just spent his day with the Cup in Canada and got engaged as well. So, unsurprisingly, his new contract is probably not at the forefront of his mind.

Again, there haven’t been many rumblings about the 26-year-old. However, I don’t think it would be a surprise to see him walk away from the Avs. Sakic may see other options out there for the taking over NAK. Again, we will see after the RFA dates pass later today and tomorrow.

Andre Burarkovsky

Burakovsky is one of the three second-liners that would be in this situation come to the end of the year. Some may argue that he has underperformed this season despite boasting 22 goals and 39 assists to his name.

Initial reports coming from the Burakovsky camp say that things haven’t really progressed well despite him being open to staying in the Mile High City. This would mean that he would be on his way out of Colorado, leaving the second line with some limited options if either Kadri or Nichuhshkin doesn’t re-sign. It will be likely two of the three on the second line to re-sign, but what combination of the three is up to Sakic to decide.

Nico Sturm

Sturm is another player we have not heard much about in terms of his status either. He was a trade deadline acquisition for fan-favorite Tyson Jost from the Minnesota Wild. Sturm was a good depth player but was left out of the squad for the playoffs initially before injuries ran their course.

This might suggest that Sturm if he were to stay on a cheap contract, may not even be a choice to be in the team on a nightly basis compared to someone like Cogliano who outworked him for his spot in the team. Again, we will see what happens when July 13 comes around later this week.

These are just the players under contract for the Avs right now, we may very well see Sakic make some moves once free agency opens for a player like Dylan Strome or a defenseman such as Ben Chiarot, for example. There is also the looming Nathan MacKinnon extension that is still looking to be done this summer as well that may be done sooner rather than later once he’s eligible to do so on July 13.

I’ll play armchair GM, even if I may not be very good at it. Because who knows what’ll actually happen. Perhaps Trader Joe will do Trader Joe things and sneak up to do something no one expects. Here’s my prediction of who will stay and who will go. I’ve seen you all playing armchair GM in the comments already, so let us know what your predictions are below in the comments.

Staying in Colorado:

Nichushkin, 4 years x $5.75M

Lehkonen, 3 years x $4.5M

Burakovsky, 2 years x $5.25M

Sturm, 1-year x $1.25M

Leaving Colorado:

Kadri, Manson, Helm, Aube-Kubel