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Filling the Landeskog void next season

The Avs have more options this offseason with the news.

Winnipeg Jets v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Sidney Crosby to the Colorado Avalanche is on the table folks!

Well, it is anyway, but not too realistic. It just became more realistic with the news of Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog missing the entirety of the 2023-24 season due to surgery he had yesterday, which was successful.

With Landeskog missing the entire season and the team knowing this, this creates some more possibilities which weren’t available before last season. The captain will spend the entire season on long-term injured reserve, and therefore, open up $7 million for the season to use in free agency.

With Erik Johnson likely leaving after the end of his $6 million dollar deal this summer, the status of other players with lower salary caps unknown, along with the continuing unknowns of Valeri Nicuhshkin, money will be ready to be used and more could become available. It could be anywhere between $15-$20 million by the time free agency opens.

The second line will be a big question mark and something to keep an eye on for a move in free agency. The free agency class is not as strong as it has been in the past, but there are some viable options for the Avs to capitalize on. How about an old name who was with the Avs forever ago and may just be the best name on the market?

Ryan O’Reilly and the current Toronto Maple Leafs have been a decent pairing, as he has four goals and seven assists in just 13 games, as he was injured for some time before the start of the playoffs. In these playoffs, he has three goals and six assists in nine games.

With the current state of the Maple Leafs who remain on the brink of elimination against the Florida Panthers, he likely wouldn’t rejoin them on his current contract unless Kyle Dubas keeps his job and wants to stick in the uptight hockey market. O’Reilly is older at 32 years old, so he might not be in an Avs jersey for too long, especially in the top six.

O'Reilly's current deal has a $7.5 million cap hit, expiring at season’s end. With his UFA status, if the Avs were to market him for a deal, they would want it to be at a much lower number. It would rattle some people if he were to return to Colorado, but it’s a possibility.

Ivan Barbashev was a name some Avs fans wanted the team to jump on at last season’s trade deadline - including our own Jackie Kay. But, he wound up going to the Vegas Golden Knights and could make it to the Western Conference Final with them.

20 goals and 31 assists between his time in Vegas and with the St. Louis Blues, including this year’s playoffs, leaves him in line for a nice payday coming up. At 27 years old, he’s in a great position in his career while currently making only $2.25 million and again, a UFA at the end of the season but will certainly be on the shortlist of the Golden Knights too.

Colorado should certainly look into him as a good option on the wing for the second line if they decide to not bring back Evan Rodrigues. Mikko Rantanen could slot in to play center and have someone such as Barbashev, Nichuhskin, or Lehkonen beside him. It would be a heck of a second line and a heck of a move if they are able to pull it off and lure him to the Mile High City.

Finally, the man mentioned at the very beginning of this piece: the dream move of bringing over Sidney Crosby to play with the Avs. The connection is already there with Nathan MacKinnon and the photoshops already created with him in an Avalanche jersey. Why not just make the move now?!

Well, it would be a heck of a move but extremely hard to pull off. Even with the Pittsburgh Penguins moving in the wrong direction and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006, Crosby’s ridiculous $8.7 million cap hit contract still in effect for two more years in the Steel City with a no-move clause seems next to impossible to complete.

At 35 years old, he would need to waive his no-move clause, get the rest of his contract bought out by the Penguins, or work a trade, to even be considered for a move to Colorado. It’s a fun dream and is very far-fetched. But, if Chris MacFarland makes any huge moves as a GM, this would certainly be one if he wants to make the splash for it.

Who else could you see joining the Avs with the extra cap space who is not on this list? Who would you want off of this list, realistically and unrealistically? Let us know in the comments below!