Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Welcome Back Wojtek Wolski

The Avalanche have re-signed Wojtek Wolski to a 2-year, $5.6M deal. So thats' $2.8M a year which is great as I thought he would be in the $3M to $3.5M neighbourhood.

It's a good deal for both the Avalanche and Wolski. Wolski has untapped potential and it's anyone's guess whether he can finally tap into it. If he doesn't, the Avalanche are only on the hook for 2 seasons. If he does, the Avalanche can re-up him in a couple years. And for Wolski, if he breaks out then he's in line for a solid new contract a couple years from now.

I'm quite happy with this signing and I expect nothing short of a 70 point season this year for Wolski. It shouldn't be as much of a problem since he won't be scared to death of making a mistake and having to ride the pine.

Related Links
Wolski Re-signs
Wolski signs

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Avalanche Sign Per Ledin (Officially!)

The Avalanche have officially announced the signing of Swedish agitator Per Ledin. This was reported/rumored a couple weeks back but there was no official word from the organization.

I have no idea who this fellow is but he sounds like a tough grinder who can still rack up some points. Perfect for a fourth-liner.

Let's see if the Avs can turn around their luck with one-year contracts for Euro players (*cough*Hlinka*cough*)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Liles, Foote Re-sign with the Avalanche

(Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
TSN is reporting that John-Michael Liles and Adam Foote have re-signed with the Colorado Avalanche. The terms for Liles are believed to be 4-years at around $4 million per year while Foote is on a 2-year deal at $3 million per year.

I was a bit surprised to learn of the signings. I was actually about to make a post questioning the labeling of Jeff Finger as a "puck-moving defenseman" in Darren Dreger's latest blog when this popped up on the TSN front page. After a dramatic double-take, I decided the signings were a bit more important to cover.

John "The Model" Liles
Liles was a question mark heading into free agency for the Avalanche. He didn't have a great year offensively but most - including myself - felt his defensive game improved significantly. There was a bit of trepidation that he would sign elsewhere and we'd be left with Kyle Cumiskey as our next great hope for an offensive d-man.

The one thing Liles needs to work on is being the powerplay quarterback he is expected to be. Last season he put up 20 points (5G, 15A) on the powerplay. While those aren't horrible numbers, they are not entirely what I'd expect from the #1 D-man on the #1 PP unit. And that's taking into account how ineffective the Avalanche powerplay was last season.

It was believed that he could sign in the $4-$5 million per year neighbourhood with another team. I think it could have easily been $5M so I'm happy to have him back with a $4M price tag. As long as he keeps improving.

Adam Foote brought in a huge veteran and physical presence at the trade deadline last year. The Avalanche defense had been lauded as a bit soft even with the acquisition of Hannan. However when Foote arrived - and Ruslan Salei for that matter - things turned around quickly. When Adam Foote is on the ice he is angry. It doesn't matter who he plays against, he skates around with a look of hate on his face at all times. I love it!

He is getting up there in age but a 2-year deal is just fine by me. People claim he lost a step or two lately but it's not like he was ever Pavel Bure or Kyle Cumiskey. Whoever thought you'd put those two in the same sentence.

I'm very happy to have Foote back not just for nostalgia sake but for the Chuck Norris mentality he brings to his game. That's right, Footer only has two speeds: skate and kill.

Defensive Line
So where does this leave the Avalanche's defensive line? Full actually. Liles, Clark, Hannan, Salei, Foote and Leopold are now all under contract for next season leaving between zero and one slots available. That one extra slot, lovingly known as the "press box slot", could be filled in by re-signing Jeff Finger but I fully expect him and Kurt Sauer to hit free agency to go somewhere where they will play every night. Yes, yes, Leopold will be injured two games into the season and they can take his spot. Ha ha ha ;)

The Cap
This puts the Avalanche's current defense at a cap hit of about $20M at the moment. Is it a $20M squad? We'll have to wait for the rest of the teams to finalize their rosters to adequately judge that. At the moment, I'm mildly skeptical with a healthy dose of optimism.

This leaves the team with around $37M in total commitments leaving them about $19M to finish off the forwards and deal with the goaltending situation.

If you still believe Sakic is coming back, which I do, then the team is looking at about $14M for the rest of the squad which includes locking up RFAs Marek Svatos and Wojtek Wolski. That doesn't leave a ton of space so don't be looking for a big free agent splash like last year.

Kyle Cumiskey
Of course, where does this leave Kyle Cumiskey. He's essentially Liles with a babyface and faster wheels. He's toiled down in the AHL for the last couple seasons with a few stints with the big club. When he was up, he was impressive with the caveat that we forgave his defensive errors to a certain degree because he was young and inexperienced.

Well, initially I was going to bemoan a soft defense because Foote had yet to sign. Now that Foote has signed I'm happier with the toughness of the D and actually hope Cumiskey doesn't make the team out of training camp is it would mean a lot of press box viewings and not a lot of action.

Relax much?
There was some hand-wringing going on over the lack of updates from the Avalanche camp. What people often forget is that this team is like the CIA when it comes to giving out information. I was surprised we were as in the loop on the Theodore situation as we were. But after signing two key defenseman to some pretty solid contracts, are people ready to calm down yet? Probably not.

Related Links
Avalanche Re-sign Liles
Avalanche Re-sign Foote

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Avalanche Sign T.J. Galiardi to Entry-Level Contract

The Avalanche have just announced their first roster move of the summer as they have signed T.J. Galiardi to an entry-level contract.

If you follow Jori's blog you might have noticed she actually scooped the Avalanche website on this one. I unfortunately missed it amidst the post-season fervor. The tears must have blurred my vision.

Galiardi appears to be an excellent prospect as he was 2nd in the WHL in rookie scoring (18g, 52a - 70pts in 72 games) and led all playoff scorers with 24 points in 16 games for the Calgary Hitmen.

He appears to be quite a playmaking left-winger and if there's one thing teams need, it's a slick left winger.* He is rated #6 for Avalanche prospects by HockeysFuture with a 7.0C rating. And he played for Dartmouth so the team could be adding another Ivy Leaguer to go along with David Jones.

*Disclaimer: Played left-wing through most of my "career" so may be biased towards the position.

Related Links
Next season begins: Avs sign Galiardi
Global Interview with T.J. Galiardi

Monday, February 25, 2008

Forsberg's Back!

Peter Forsberg returns to the Colorado Avalanche
Sweet bejeebers.

I thought he only wanted to come back to a contender? The Avalanche are certainly not that, even with Forsberg's return. This makes me wonder if FG is ready to pull the trigger on someone such as Arnason or Brunette.

TSN sources say that Forsberg will earn $5 million (US) prorated for the remainder of the season, approximately $1 million.

If he can reawaken a slumping Milan Hejduk, it'll be well worth the money. And I'm guessing it won't hurt ticket sales at all.

UPDATE: The NHL is certainly capitalizing early.

Related Links
Forsberg Conference Call Transcript
Scott Cullen's Numbers Game
Denver Post Article
RMN Article
Duhatschek Weighs In
Forsberg Sweepstakes Over (written after he announced he was not likely to return)
Me eating my own words

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Vaananen Signs in Sweden

Ossi Vaananen has signed in Sweden with Djurgarden. I couldn't see any contract details on that site but I might not know it if I did!

I'm a bit surprised that Ossi couldn't find a home somewhere in the NHL. He wasn't a terrible defenseman by any means. I figured a club looking to round out their top-6 might snag him but maybe Ossi prefers being in Sweden and getting more ice-time per game.

Update: It sounds like Ossi did get a few offers from NHL clubs but decided to turn them down. I would guess it's a combination of money and proximity to his hometown of Vantaa, Finland. The Swedish Elite League is still an excellent hockey league and I hope Vaananen does well with them.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Avalanche Sign Laperriere to Extension

TSN is reporting that Ian Laperriere has signed an extension that will keep him with the club through the 08/09 season. All I can say to that is "Yes!"

Adrian Dater reports the deal is worth $1.15M for 08/09 which is hardly an increase on his current $1M cap hit for this season. And again I say "Yes!"

Lappy is a fan favorite, a great leader, a hard worker and gives the best interviews of any Avalanche player. He's also extremely active in the community which affects his leadership qualities as well.

I'm glad he'll be around for two more seasons.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Avalanche Sign Clark to Extension

Brett Clark has been signed to a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2009-10. Contract details have just been released and it's a $3.5M/year deal. A tad higher than the $2.25 I was guesstimating. I'm not sure if he's a $3.5M defenseman but he'll get a chance to prove his last season wasn't an anomaly

Clark was forced into an unfavourable position gobbling up top-line minutes last season. The extra exposure opened him up to criticism which, however true at the time, will be less of an issue this year. Logging less minutes and under less presssure will let him settle back into a supporting role on the blueline.

With career highs in every category last season, it's good to see him back on a short-term extension.

The TSN article says it all with this blurb:
The 30-year-old Clark completed his second full-season with the Avalanche in 2006-07 where he eclipsed his NHL career highs set in games played (82), goals (10), assists (29) and points (39). His 23:40 average ice-time per game led the Avalanche last year and he led the entire NHL in shifts per game (35.1). His 210 blocked shots a year ago led the Avalanche and ranked fourth in the NHL. Clark was the only Avalanche defenseman to appear in all 82 games last season and he owns a current games-played streak of 143 dating back to November 23, 2005.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Avalanche Sign O'Neil and Smith

No, it's not Jeff O'Neil and Jason Smith. It's Wes O'Neil and Wyatt Smith. The signing was announced today although all weekend long the Wyatt Smith signing was talked about on message boards. Yes, the state of the hockey world right now is so slow that the signing of a reserve forward was the talk of the weekend.

O'Neil, a former Islanders pick, has just finished up with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and was second among team defenceman with 21 points. He's a big guy at 6'4" and 200lbs but he's rated at 6.5 D on So currently he's expected to be a 5th or 6th D-man who may not even live up to those high expectations. But he'll likely do well on the Lake Erie Monsters roster.

Wyatt Smith is a career reserve forward who spent 61 games with the Minnesota Wild last season which was a career high. Another player likely to be on the Monsters roster for most of the year.

Thankfully the Canada-Russia Super Series will be a nice distraction from all this intense off-season action. At least until rookie camp starts on September 8th. I'll be watching the Canada-Russia game in Saskatoon on September 5th and I'm looking forward to seeing John Tavares in action. TSN and Rogers will be broadcasting the games on TV and across the ol' InterWeb.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Avalanche Sign Oreskovich

On Monday the Colorado Avalanche signed Victor Oreskovich to an entry-level contract. Oreskovich scored 60 points in 62 games with the Kitchener Rangers as he continually improves on his way up to the NHL.

He's a big kid at 6'3" and 215 pounds and with a PPG touch in the "O", he's got a shot at being a solid power forward in the NHL. He will likely continue to develop his skills with the Lake Erie monsters, who are looking to be a monster-sized team that even Pierre McGuire would be afraid of.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Avalanche Re-sign Rycroft; Add Jillson, Purinton

The Avalanche continued filling up roster spots for their new AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, with the re-signing of Mark Rycroft and the additions of Jeff Jillson and Dale Purinton. Jillson and Purinton are both big d-men (6'3", 220+) who will likely make their way to the Monsters. Rycroft has a shot at sticking on the 4th line as an energy player since Parker is not likely to suit up for every game. However there's certainly no guarantee after some of the reports from the development camp.

NOTE: I unwittingley pilfered that headline from the Avalanche's announcement on their site. I'm not sure if there's a more succinct way to put that headline though so I ran with it. Crazy minds think alike.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Avalanche Re-sign Svatos

The Colorado Avalanche announced the re-signing of Marek Svatos to a one-year, $1.2M deal. That is a slight raise from what he received last year ($1.05M if I recall correctly) and some may say it's unjustified. After packing away 32 goals in his rookie season, tying Joe Sakic for team lead and placing him 3rd behind fellow rookies Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, he managed just 15 goals in a career-high 66 games.

So why the raise? Well it's hard to believe that a 32-goal-scoring rookie is destined for failure in the league. Locking him up for another season gives him a chance to show which year was the fluke - the 32 goals or the 15 goals. If it's the latter, then you can consider the investment unwise and get out. If it's the former, you've built a relationship with him and shown that you have confidence in him. It could very well be that this sign of confidence propels him out of the gate this coming season.

Which can't come soon enough if you ask me.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Avalanche Sign Ryan Smyth

Ryan Smyth signed with the Colorado Avalanche today to a 5-year, 31.25 million dollar contract. This is obviously a huge signing for the Avalanche as I think everyone can agree that Ryan Smyth is one of the grittiest players in the league. Although I've had issues with his style of play in the past, his hard work far outweighs the few brain cramps he has had. It will also fill out one of the revolving door LW spots on the 1st or 2nd lines for the Avalanche.

Last season, Wolski tended to be on LW most of the time with Sakic and Brunette while the LW spot on the Stastny-Hejduk line was filled by Brett McLean towards the end of the season and many others throughout the first 2/3 of the season. I can see Wolski picking up his play and sticking on the 1st line. And it appears that is what Q desires as he was fairly lenient with leaving Wolski on that line. Which would leave Smyth playing with Stastny and Hejduk on the "2nd" line. Would that not be be one of the most potent combos of offensive and defensive ability on any line in the NHL? And I answer myself...yes. Hell yes.

The other reason this is huge is that he is a possible guy to take over if Joe Sakic ever does the unthinkable (you know, that thing which shall not be spoken of). He has shown the ability to lead a team in the past both with Team Canada and Edmonton. Let's be honest, he was the true leader of the Oilers over the last couple years. If someone can name me a game where they recall saying "Boy, what is wrong with Smyth? He's just not trying tonight.", then I'll give you a cookie. With chocolate chips and peanuts. And raisins if you desire.

EDIT: In another tidbit to add to this, Smyth signed for less money to play in Colorado than he was offered by the Isles and Habs. Both teams were in the 6.5 per year range. Going to the US over Canada will likely save him more than enough in taxes to make up for it though (as Mr. McGuire noted as he got the inevitable last word in)

Avalanche Sign Scott Hannan

The Colorado Avalanche have signed Scott Hannan to a 4-year, 18 million dollar deal. This signing comes with a bit less shock as he has been heavily rumoured to head this way for the past week. Most of that rumouring came from Mr. Eklund who was batting well above .500 today on his e4 rumours. He was batting so well that I had a few posts ready to go based on his rumours.

With Scott Hannan they have added some excellent grit to the line up. Grit is my word for the day and the Avalanche are in sore need of it. I gave a fair bit of analysis on Hannan yesterday so I don't know if I can add much more than speculating on what his role will be with the Avalanche. And it shouldn't be too hard. Or will it? He is definitely going to be a shut-down defender and I could easily see him lining up with Liles or Leopold on the top line. But let's see if we can nail down all the pairings.

Clark and Skrastins will likely stay together again which leaves Liles, Leopold, Hannan and Sauer up for pairing. Or possibly Jeff Finger in place of Sauer. Now you wouldn't likely put Liles and Leopold, two offensively minded d-men, together except possibly on the powerplay. And you wouldn't pair Hannan with your 3rd line guy (Sauer or Finger). Since in my, and many others, opinion Leopold is more responsible than Liles you would want to put Hannan with Liles to form a good compliment.

But then that leaves Leopold pairing with Sauer or Finger on the third line. And I think now we can see where the dilemma lies. You've got 5 guys capable of playing in the top-4, but no clear cut 1-2 pairing. So one of those 5 top-4 players could see themselves getting limited ice-time. Or one of them could see themselves on the way out the door for a 3rd line D plus a pick.

So this signing could very well open up more wheeling and dealing from Mr. Giguere. And from what we've seen so far, he should be able to handle it well.

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.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Avalanche Re-sign Arnason for Two Years

Today the Colorado Avalanche announced that they have re-signed Tyler Arnason for two years. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed but it's likely for around 1.2-1.5 million a year. He was sixth on the team in scoring, putting up 16 goals and 33 assists over 82 games while centering the third line.

Arnason is not at the age where you can tie incentives into his contract which is unfortunate as he has been known to be prone to laziness and was certainly a streaky scorer with the Avalanche this year. Some nights he would chalk up 2 or 3 points but would follow it up with a 4 game point drought. On average he's putting up just over a half point a game while skating on the third line so there isn't much to complain about. If he can raise his level of consistency, this will be a great signing for the Avalanche.

EDIT: He was signed for 3.35m/year which is a cap hit of 1.675M. A bit more than I expected but I'm a lowballer by nature. This is still a good signing for the Avalanche.

Stay tuned for more draft day coverage as news breaks, including an analysis of the first overall draft choice for the Avalanache, whomever it may be.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Guite and McCormick Signed

The Avalanche announced today that they have signed Ben Guite to a two-year contract and Cody McCormick to a one-year contract. So the signings keep on trickling in which is good to see. As for these two signings, I give two thumbs up to Guite and two thumbs at neutral position on McCormick.

Signing Guite for two-years was a great move for the organization. After being called up as an extra body, he solidified his spot in the lineup with his hard-working, gritty playing style. He was put on the penalty kill unit shortly after joining the team and never looked back. In fact, his first NHL goal was a shorthanded goal against the Dominator. He also led the Avalanche in faceoffs and showed some other other players on the team what it meant to finish your checks.

Ben Guite has seen his way around the league. He was drafted by the Canadiens in '97, was picked up as free agent by the Islanders in '01, was then dealt to Anaheim in '02, then signed with the Rangers in '03, then went to Bridgeport in '04, got signed by Boston in '05 and then finally by the Avalanche in '06. However, his only other game played as a non-Avalanche was with Boston in '06. So for all intents and purposes, we can claim him as our own.

He will likely find a home on the PK unit as well as being a third or fourth-liner who can also be used in key faceoff situations, likely when the team is defending a lead towards the end of a game. Either way, I'm happy to see him in the lineup and fully expect him to be a starter after training camp.

Cody McCormick signing is more about having enough players for their new AHL team than anything. He wasn't able to crack the lineup for more than 6 games last year and unless his game has vastly improved, I doubt he'll crack it for much more than that this year. He's got some grit for sure but he doesn't really have much aside from that. The Avalanche already signed Parker for their token fighter and with Guite being a better version of McCormick...well I think that's all that needs to be said.

Of course that being said, it's not improbable that he could find a home playing winger on the fourth-line. It would depend on exactly what Colorado's other three lines look like in the end. If they have enough depth on the first 3 lines that they don't need to worry much about the fourth line (I'm looking at you Anaheim), then he could be welcomed there as a cheap player who tosses bodies around.