Free Agency In T Minus 12 - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Free Agency In T Minus 12

We are a mere 12 hours away from the free agent feeding frenzy and I'm cautiously optimistic. This year there are quite a few rumours surrounding the Avalanche and the rumours are on players I'd be quite happy to have. Of course, rumours are just that. Rumours. I've actually contemplated started a blog called "How often is Eklund right?" It would disclude times where he reports what another site has already reported of course.

Now, in case people hadn't heard the salary cap jumped to $50.4 million at the end of this week. Which, while below what the Avalance have spent in previous years, is far above what the Avalanche have committed to salaries so far. The current cap hit for the Avalanche, with 27 players under contract is a mere $31.691 according to Factoring in Svatos' QO, what will the Avalanche do with their $17.5M remaining?

The heaviest rumour of all has the Avalanche being front runners for Scott Hannan. He is definitely the type of defender that the Avalanche are craving. He routinely plays in the 20 minutes per game area, has a gritty, in-your-face shutdown style and readily sacrifices his body. And at only 28 years of age, carries himself extremely well as a leader. He's not the 6'5" 240 lbs defender that everyone craves, but at 6'1" and 225, he's certainly capable of battling it out in the corners.

The only issue I will have if the Avalanche sign him is the price that will have to be paid. As usual in the free agent market, the market price is inflated due to an intense and pressure-filled initial 2-3 hours on the big names. It's like waiting in line for an iPhone but you have to outbid everybody else in line. That being said, the market is what it is and with the salary cap leap that was announced yesterday, he's well within budget. Presuming Kroenke is willing to spend the dollars. Which I'm sure we all realize is a 99.99% certainty.

If Hannan were to sign for 5 to 5.5 million, which could even be low-balling it, that still leaves Colorado with 12 million to spend. The odds of the Avalanche landing two huge UFAs are pretty slim but if it were to happen, it could be the return of Captain Clutch, Mr. Chris Drury himself. I don't think this is as likely as getting Hannan, especially considering how many centers the Avalanche currently have signed, but I'd welcome it nonetheless. It would help undo what is considered the biggest blunder the Avalanche have ever made when they traded him away as a youngster.

A few other options are some less marquee names but still solid contributors nonetheless.

Tom Preissing - although he's another offensive blue-liner, I was extremely impressed with him this year and he could bloom into an elite defenseman.

Michel Ouelette - shown no love by Pittsburgh after having a breakout year, he could bring some grit and depth to the forward lineup.

Cory Sarich - he's no Scott Hannan but could come reasonably priced and open the way to trade off one of the current top-four if Finger can maintain a spot in the lineup.

Roman Hamrlik - he hasn't been talked about much but I just love him on the PP.

There are a fair amount more as this free agency has quite a bit of depth compared to the tier-1 talent available. And if the Avalanche can't land the tier-1 they want, they'll certianly look at pursuing one of the "lower-end" talents. Last year they snagged up Arnason and it worked out quite well as he re-signed on a two-year contract.

I will be attending a wedding tomorrow but should still be available for the first couple hours of free agency. So I have a shot at being able to do a post if the Avalanche manage to land someone early on. So keep refreshing this page to see late breaking news. Just kidding, follow if you really want the early scoop.


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