Evaluating Avalanche’s free-agent forward options: Nazem Qadri? Evan Rodrigues? standing pat?

Training camp is due to start next month and, after being traded for a goaltender Alexander GeorgievThe Avalanche The weather has been relatively calm. With limited cap space, general manager Chris McFarland has mostly focused on keeping his Stanley Cup winning corps together, signing Valery Nichushkin And Arturi Lehkonen For long-term deals and to bring back veterans Andrew Cogliano And Darren Helm On one year deals.

Colorado still has one of the best rosters in the league, but its forward depth has taken a hit, as Andre Burakovsky (Seattle), nico sturmo ,San Jose) And Nicolas Aube-Kubelli (Toronto) All have gone into free agency. Meanwhile, Nazim Qadri is unsigned. If the season had just begun, the front lines of the avalanche would look something like this:

leftist hub right wing

Arturi Lehkonen

Nathan McKinnon

mikko rentanen

Gabriel Landeskog

JT Comper

Valery Nichushkin

Ben Meyers

alex newhook

Logan O’Connor

Andrew Cogliano

Jason Magna

Darren Helm

(Note: This lineup uses the same top line and a similar second line that the Avalanche used when closing out the Stanley Cup Finals. Magna is included in the fourth line as she skating with the team during the Cup Finals. but avalanches can also turn to other interior options.)

Avalanche has about $4 million in cap space left, according to Cap Friendly. Some of them may go to another defender; Maybe Jack Johnson or Ryan Murray consider falling back on the cheap deal. Even if that’s the case, McFarland will still have some flexibility, though he’ll have to be mindful of it. Nathan McKinnoncontract status. Star Center has a year left on its deal and is due for a massive hike after next season.

Here are some options Colorado is ahead as the offseason continues:

nazem qadri

Qadri, who will turn 32 at the start of next season, is coming off a career-best 87-point year, and he scored one of the biggest goals of the postseason with an overtime winner in Game 4. Tampa Bay, some smoke is adding to it island, but General Manager Lou Lamorillo has not announced any signing. with noah dobson, Alexander Romanov And kiefer bellows As restricted free agents, Lamoriello would have to make a trade to fit Qadri under the salary range.

McFarland, and other general managers potentially interested in Qadri, are in the same boat as the Islanders: Colorado will have to remove someone from its roster to make room for Qadri. The avalanche has made Kendra’s camp aware of how high they see her, and Qadri said in the off-season that his priority was to stay. But logically it can be difficult.

free agent pool

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

Evan Rodrigues

Rodrigues is 29 year old center and had 43 points in 82 games pittsburgh this last season. He will be a downgrade from Qadri, but is stronger defensively and more than capable as a middle-six substitute. The fact that he is a right shot may also give flexibility to Jared Bedner, considering Lehkonen, Rentanen, Nichushkin and Landeskog are all left shots.

Paul Stastany

Maybe Stestany could be up for a reunion in Colorado after 45-point season winnipeg, At 36 years old, his skating may be a limiting factor at the moment, but he is a smart player and can play a wide variety of roles.

Sunny Milano

Unlike Rodrigues or Stastany, Milano is not a center, but he can be a solid third liner to give the team depth and go all the way to the second line in a pinch. He did not receive a qualifying offer from Anaheim, so it could have been one of the more cost-friendly options available.

Colorado may also look to someone like Phil Kessel, although the veteran’s defense and skating may not fit with the team’s identity, even if he continues to score. Or perhaps McFarland looks for below-six depth additions as a stopgap by the time frame of the trade. Players like Tyler Bozak, Tyler Ennis and Sam Gagner could fall into that category.

trade market

Colorado has used the draft and trade market to acquire far more major players than free agency. The Avalanche drafted three of their top forwards – Landeskog, McKinnon and Rantenen – and traded alongside Burakowski, Qadri, Komper and Lehkonen. Devon ToesGirard and Eric Johnson at the rear end. Don’t be surprised if this is a route the team takes to try to fill the middle-six forward hole at some point before the 2023 trade deadline.

Anyone with a year left on their deal in Chicago is worth keeping an eye on – including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toes And max domi — considering how aggressive blackhawks Advancing quality players in their rebuilding efforts. Other lower level teams can make for potential business partners, and McFarland can always pull off a surprise and get one that no one is expecting.

internal options

Avalanche can wait for the trade deadline to proceed and earn a salary cap spot. If the Front Office goes that route, it would make Komper and Newhook prime candidates to seize the role of second-line center at training camp, unless Bednar wants to use Rantenon at the center, which he did in the past. Did in season. Komper is strong defensively and had some major goals post-season, and Newhook is the 21-year-old to come out of his first full season.

If Colorado doesn’t add another forward, players like Megana, Lucas Sedlak and anton bleed chance to seize NHL roles. So can young players like Martin Couto, Mikhail Maltsev and Sampo Ranta, all of whom have NHL games to their names. Oscar Olsson, the team’s 2021 first-rounder, is a promising young winger, but he will need more time in the AHL before being NHL-ready.

(Top Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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