Evaluating Avalanche Free Agent Redirect Options: Nazim Qadri? Evan Rodriguez? pat standing?

The training camp is set to begin next month, and after trading with goalkeeper Alexander Georgiev, the avalanche has been relatively uneventful. With limited space, General Manager Chris MacFarland has mostly focused on keeping his Stanley Cup-winning core together, signing Valerie Nisushkin and Arturi Likon on long-term deals and bringing back veterans Andrew Cogliano and Darren Helm on one-year deals.

Colorado still has one of the league’s top rosters, but its forward depth has taken a hit, with Andrei Burakowski (Seattle), Nico Storm (San Jose) and Nicholas Ob-Kobel (Toronto) all leaving in free agency. Meanwhile, Nazim Qadri remained unsigned. If the season started now, the avalanche front lines would look like this:

left wing center right wing
Arturi Laconin

Nathan McKinnon

Miko Rantanen

Gabriel Landskog

JT Comfier

Valery Nesushkin

Ben Myers

Alex Newhawk

Logan O’Connor

Andrew Cogliano

Jason Megna

Darren Helm

(Note: This lineup uses the same top streak and a similar second streak that Avalanche used when they closed out the Stanley Cup Final. Megna was included in the fourth line because he was skating with the team during the Cup Final, but Avalanche can also switch to other indoor options.)

According to Cap Friendly, the area of ​​the avalanche is left around $4 million. Some of that could go to another defense man; Maybe Jack Johnson or Ryan Murray is considering a comeback on the cheap. Even if that were the case, MacFarland would still have some flexibility, although he should be aware of Nathan McKinnon’s contract status. The star midfielder has one year left on his deal and a massive increase is scheduled after next season.

Here are some options Colorado has in the future as the Offseason continues:

Nazim Qadri

Kadri, who will turn 32 early next season, is off his career best of the year with 87 points, scoring one of his biggest post-season goals with an overtime win in Game 4 against Tampa Bay. There has been some smoke linking it to the islanders, but General Manager Lou Lamoreello has not made an announcement about the signing. With Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanoff, and Keefer Bellows as restricted free agents, Lamoreello will likely have to make a deal to fit Cadre under the salary cap.

McFarland, and other potential general managers interested in Kadri, are in a similar boat to the islanders: Colorado will have to move someone off their list to make room for Kadri. The avalanche made the center camp aware of how much they liked him, and Qadri said going off-season would have preferred to stay. But logistically it can be difficult.

Free Agents Gathering

Most of the free agents have signed up at this point, but there are still a few interesting options available.

Evan Rodriguez

Rodriguez is a 29-year-old player who has 43 points in 82 games with Pittsburgh this past season. He’ll be an understatement but he’s solid defensively and more than capable as an option in the middle. The fact that it’s a correct shot could give Jared Bednar flexibility, considering that Lehkonen, Rantanen, Nichushkin and Landeskog are all left-handed shots.

Paul Stastney

Stastney may be up for a reunion in Colorado after a 45-point season with Winnipeg. At 36, his skating may be a limiting factor at this point, but he’s an intelligent player and can play in a variety of roles.

Sony Milano

Unlike Rodrigues or Stastny, Milano is not a center, but he can be a strong third line to give depth to the team and can move to the second line in a pinch. He didn’t receive a qualifying offer from Anaheim, so it could end up being one of the most affordable options available.

Colorado could also look at someone like Phil Kessel, although the veteran’s defense and skateboarding might not fit in with the team’s identity, even if he continues to put points. Or maybe MacFarland is looking at the bottom six depth addons as a temporary solution until the trade deadline. Players like Tyler Bozak, Tyler Ennis, and Sam Gagner could fall into this category.

trade market

Colorado has used the draft and trade market to acquire the major players far more than free agency. Avalanche drafted his three best forwards – Landeskoog, McKinnon and Rantanen – and traded Burakowski, Kadri, Komfer and Leekonen, as well as Devon Toyos, Gerrard and Eric Johnson at the back end. Don’t be surprised if this is the way the team is going to try to fill a front-half gap sometime before the 2023 trade deadline.

Anyone with a year left on their Chicago bargain deserves attention – including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Max Dome – considering how powerful Black Hawks are driving top players in their rebuilding efforts. Other teams of the lower class can offer potential business partners, and MacFarland can always surprise and acquire someone that no one expected.

INTERIOR OPTIONS

Avalanche can wait to add a salary cap space forward and build up until the trade deadline. If the front office goes that route, it will make Compher and Newhook the lead candidates to grab the second-line center role at training camp unless Bednar wants to use Rantanen for the center, which he did on points last season. Compher is defensively strong and has some major goals after the season, and the 21-year-old Newhook is coming off his first full season.

If Colorado doesn’t add another striker, players like Megna, Lukas Sedlak and Anton Blidh will have a chance to grab the NHL roles. So do younger players like Martin Kuyt, Mikhail Maltsev and Sambo Ranta, all of whom have NHL games to their name. Oskar Olausson, the team’s first-round pick for 2021, is a promising young winger but will likely need more time in the AHL before he is ready for the NHL.

(top photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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