Avalanche Man-Meat acquisitions '09 (Part 1)

This post is brought to you by Jibblescribbits,
I'm giving thedoctor full authority to jump in and enter his own thoughts here as well. Look for his thoughts as well

I'm going to go ahead and do something completely out of character* and give new GM Schrute Sherman some unsolicited advice here.

*may not actually be out of character

So GM Sherman, learn from your predecessor. Two seasons ago Francois Giguere listened to good 'ol Jibblescribbits advice and the Avs made a surprising run to the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Then last season FG got cockey and didn't listen to a word of my advice and the Avs... well it's best we not talk about it. So do yourself a favor and listen to Jibblescribbits. I know I criticize and can be harsh, but really I'm only trying to help.

Currently the Avs have $44.8M locked away in 14 players (including McLeod's new contract). They also have 5 RFAs, none of whom will command a gigantic salary. The Avs 5 RFAs are Cody McCormick, David Jones, Peter Budaj, and Kyle Cumiskey. Signing these guys should be GM Sherman's #1 priority before UFA begins 7/1. I expect the salaries of these guys to fall somewhere along the lines of:

McCormick - $550k
Jones - $700k
Budaj - $800k
Cumiskey - $525k

Yeah, all of these guys will be re-signed at or near their qualifying offers, and they should all have roster spots too.

For the sake of argument we're going to assume that all of these guys will be re-signed, Which brings the Avs total of $47.4M tied up into 18 players (which looks a little less daunting, until you realize that one of these players is Darcy Tucker). This leaves the Avs with a lineup next season that looks like this (RFA's in Green):

Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
Jones - Wolski - Svatos Jones is a far better player on his natural right side, imo.
The vortex of suckitude that is Darcy Tucker - The Ghost of Tyler Arnason (aka TJ Hensick) - Stewart
McCormick - TJ Galiardi (possibly) - McLeod Same for McLeod on his natural left side.

Clark- Cumiskey



I'll add my own lineup guess:

Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
Tucker - Wolski - Svatos
McLeod - Hensick - Jones
McCormick - ??? - Stewart



Wow. GM Sherman you have a lot of work to do.

Let's get a list of working assumptions out of the way:
• Sakic is retiring. It may not happen, but we have to assume, and this is my guess.
• The Avs won't be able to unload any of the contracts holding them back. I hope they can, but I don't think it's likely.
• The Avs will take Duchene in the draft, but it's too early to pencil him into a regular lineup yet.
• The only minor league forward I can see cracking the Avs lineup this season may be Ryan Stoa (and TJ Galiardi obviously). Other than that the Avs don't have much help up front coming from LE, so the Avs will have to sign some forward depth. I would add Justin Mercier looked simply awesome in the last development camp I saw. He might be a dark horse for a roster spot as well...

Let's start this off with the Avs UFAs and whether they should be resigned.

Ian Laperriere I'm not going to spend too much time talking about Lappy here. I pretty much covered it at the trade deadline, and my position hasn't changed too much since then. (I probably would only give him about $1.5M/season, which is what he would accept.) When you look at the lineup the way i is above, I can see why the Avs aren't making a real effort to re-sign him. The Avs desperately need to spend their money upgrading their offensive talent, and Laperriere is not a step in that direction. McLeod and McCormick do similar things, etc.

Still Lappy should be re-signed for all the reasons I listed in my older piece. He is durable, even at 35, he's a strong penalty killer, and he is a jack of all trades. Players like that are good to have around.

Verdict: re-sign Lappy, 2 years @ $1.5M/season

Ben Guite: I honestly believe this to be a bit of a no-brainer. Guite is a nice 4th line role player, solid penalty killer and decent at face-offs (51.5%). He's a perfect cheap checking line center, and is the best Av at this role since the Avs traded Stephane Yelle away. He struggled a little coming back from injury, but eventually returned to form. Last season he made $475k, and he's probably due a substantial raise (Brian Willsie made $600k).

100% agreed. Guite is a perfect 4th liner, and needs to be brought back.

Verdict: Guite should be re-signed. 3 years @$650-800k/season is a good deal.

Joe Sakic The issue with Joe is his desire to come back, and his salary. He's 2 seasons removed from a 100pt season, but that feels like forever ago. Over his last 2 seasons he's been paid $6M and he hasn't been able to produce because of injuries. I think everyone wants him back, but the Avs simply cannot afford to bring him back at the same salary. If he wants to return he's going to have to take a substantial paycut.

Verdict Joe Sakic always has a place on this team if he wants it..... for $1 season @ $3.5M.

note: i'm going to go with the working assumption that he's going to retire when I look at non-av free agents

Tyler Arnason : In a word: No. In 41 words: If he takes the Ice in a unipron next season there will be protests in the streets of Denver that will make the streets of Tehran look desolate, and make the LA Lakers championship riot look like a hippy peace march.

Verdict No, No 1,000 times No.

Brian Willsie I think this is really more of a Lake Erie question. He did fine filling in when the avs were ravaged by injuries, and will probably provide some veteran leadership to the youngins in LE.
I have no problem signing him with the assumption he'll be starting in Lake Erie and will only see NHL action if the Avs are hit hard by injuries.

Verdict Re-sign with a 2-way contract for the minimum.

Daniel Tjarnqvist: I never thought you'd be a Ruski because the KHL is so passe'.
Verdict: Can't do it.

Andrew Raycroft The perpetual joke of the goaltending world, due to his struggles in Toronto, didn't look too bad in Denver. I think he earned himself a backup job somewhere, and I don't think it's out of question for him to eventually be a #1 again. He wasn't as bad as his numbers, even though he did have horrendous games. He's a poor mans Jose Theodore, which sounds terrible until you realize that "poor man's" covers every sense of the word. At $800k he's a better roster fit for most teams than Jose and his $4.5M.

However the Avs need a bona fide #1, and Raycroft still has some work to do. I wish him the best, but we can't wait him out.

Raycroft is the worst goalie to ever play for the Avalanche. He's awful. Good riddance.

Verdict Good luck Ray-Ray

Part 2... upcoming


  1. Good post. I like the idea of getting up-front (2nd line center) help but I really wonder if we have room without moving somebody like Svatos. This is how I think the lines could look then:

    Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
    Jones - New center - Wolski
    McLeod - TJ Galiardi/Stoa - Stewart
    Darcy Tucker - TJ Hensick - McCormick

    I would prefer to see Tucker and Hensick on a 4th line role because they've earned it. Also, I think McCleod has earned a 3rd line role. I don't think it's too crazy to put a rookie at 3rd line center and we have a lot that can fight for that spot. However, you're likely right that it will be either Stoa or Galliardi.

  2. yeah, I've always looked at hockey lines as 3 lines and a defensive/checkign line instead of 4 lines. When I put McLeod and McCormick on the same "4th" line i'me really putting them on the checking/aggravating line. They certainly deserve more ice-time than Hensick and Tucker.

    I see Stoa moving to LW.. I hope he makes the team out of camp.

  3. @ Matt--Sorry to say it, but what you're proposing doesn't make sense. Why would you put Wolski on the RW, when he's never played that role? If Duchene can't play this season, and also assuming that Sakic is going to retire, then Wolski would be our 2nd line center, and not a RW. Even if you were to put him on a wing, that would be the LW slot, not the RW. And you're assuming a LOT in that move alone.

    I do agree, however, that Hensick doesnt belong on the third line, and would like to see him get traded off the team.

    I am hoping that in clarifing what was stated in the press that Gustavsson did that because we are his first choice. I realize I'm reaching there, but I gotta have something to hang on to, since I'm not too thrilled about us getting any of the other goalies that might be available--except perhaps Clemmenson, IF he'll come here, which is just another question mark in a long line of question marks so far this off-season.

  4. avsmysterygirl,

    Good catch, I should have placed Wolski on left and Jones on the right.

    Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
    Wolski - New center - Jones
    McLeod - TJ Galiardi/Stoa - Stewart
    Darcy Tucker - TJ Hensick - McCormick

    And yes, there are a ton of assumptions here like Sakic retiring and Duchene not making the team. Not that I want either of those things to happen. And if they don't, we probably won't need any help up front.

  5. Jibblescribbits,

    Yeah, that makes sense that you set it up a checking line.

    I did read that Stoa has played LW alot which could really help because we need depth there. Maybe it will also allow us to healthy scratch Tucker more.

  6. I can't edit the story to add my thoughts, so I'll toss them here:

    I agree that Guite should be brought back at around that price, and they should be offering Lappy more. I would add Vernace to that list of RFAs too, I think he's likely to be on the roster next year after his play towards the end of the year.

    Galiardi and Stoa are both probably going to be LWs in the pros. If we assume the avs don't go outside organization for any slots, that the Avs are willing to play the younuns, and that Duchene and Sakic both don't play this year, I see this lineup:

    Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
    Tucker - Wolski - Svatos
    McLeod - Hensick - Jones
    Stoa - Guite - Stewart

    I'd prefer to see Galiardi and Stewart both playing in the top 6 over Tucker and Svatos respectively, but with Svatos not being traded yet and Tucker not bought out, I think this is how we're going to look without outside acquisitions. Pretty grim, tbh.

    The defensemen look equally set:

    Hannan - Liles
    Clark - Foote
    Salei - (Cumiskey/Vernace)

    and the goalies look like Budaj tandeming with/backing up Biron, Anderson, Harding, Gustavsson...or someone else.

    Next year isn't going to be pretty if Sakic and Duchene don't play and some random young guy doesn't light the world on fire. it's just reality, sadly. but after that, I think we look great in cap and in players.

  7. YIKES!! Looking at that again, Matt, I wouldnt mind if we had a completely new 4th line next season. While I think McLeod's ok, I am not impressed with our other Cody. I'd rather have kept Lappy, instead, but you don't have to tell me how that's not going to happen, as I get it. I just think he would have been much better for our team, especially in the predicament we find ourselves in. I am hoping Sacco and crew can turn the piss poor attitudes around too. I think that had a lot to do with our lousy season as well--as if our team didn't want to play under TG either (and so were hoping that by losing he'd get fired). Did anyone else get that impression?

    I'm willing to give Svatos another shot with a new coaching direction now. Especially after watching how the guys kept coming from the LEM, and actually not being afraid to attack the zone, and not just try to play that dump and chase crap that we seemed all too often to fail at. That turned out to be dump and chase the other team all too often under TG.

    IMO, re-hiring TG for our head coach was like taking a bite of cereal and saying "ewww--this milk is SOUR...I think I'll put this bowl back in the fridge, and try to eat it later to see if it's any better".

  8. Jibbles, all of your RFA numbers - except Jones's - are too low. Qualifying offers for RFA's are based on a player's salary in the previous year.

    Salary less than $660k get a minimum of 110% raise
    Salaray in the $660k-$1 million range get a minimum 105$ raise
    salary over $1 million get a 100% raise


    So, those RFA's are going to have MINIMUM salaries of:

    McCormick: (.522*1.1)= $5742k
    Jones: (.55*1.1)= $605k
    Budaj: (.8*1.05)= $840k
    Cumiskey: (.551667*1.1)= $606,834k

    Lots of guys were also impressed enough with what they saw of Vernace to assume that he will be the Avs' 7th defenseman. He's also an RFA.

    Vernace: (.495*1.1)= $544,500k

    (The minimum NHL salary for the 2009-10 season has increased to $500k.)

    If all of those guys sign qualifying offers at their respective MINIMUM prices, then by my calculations the Avs would have a payroll of $47.97887 million with 3 forwards and 1 goaltender to sign (not including Galiardi, Stoa, Duchene, or any UFA's).

    If you then sign Guite at your proposed $800k, Laperriere at $1.5 million and Sakic at $3.5 million, that leaves $3.021133 in cap room to sign a goaltender.

    All of that said:

    Are those 5 players going to sign for their minimum QO?
    Not likely. I would think that the RFA's real numbers will look something like:

    McCormick: $600k
    Jones: $750k
    Budaj: $900k-$1.25 million
    Cumiskey: $675k
    Vernace: $575k

    Is Sakic going to play?
    I'd like to have him around Duchene for a year. But again, not likely.

    Is Avalanche management going to want to spend upto the upper limit on a team that finished at the bottom of the western conference this past season?
    Not likely. I just don't see it happening. I really think that, unless Sakic comes back, they're going to just ride this season out and spend just enough to fill out their team for this coming season after which, they'll have lots of salaries coming off of the books and (hopefully) lots of prospects chomping at the bit ready to crack the line up.

    What happens if Matt Duchene makes the team?
    A rookie salary for a player drafted this year is a maximum of $900k, and he is able to earn upto $2.85 million in bonuses, which would mean that his maximum cap number is $3.75 million. I would guess that as a 3rd overall pick, his cap number would be about $2.85 million on a 3-year entry level contract. That potential cap number in mind, if Sakic plays, Duchene won't. Unless Sakic plays for peanuts and/or Duchene only plays 9 games and is sent back to juniors for another year. The Avs'll have either one of these guys in the line up next year. But very likely not both and quite possibly neither.

  9. Guh. Sorry that "comment" ended up being forever long.

  10. Doc-

    You should be able to edit the post now... sorry about that...


    Thanks, even though adding those salaries on there only adds about .3M to the cap hit (I'm not counting Vernace, because even if he gets a qual offer, I don't think he'd start in a Unipron.

    Also I assumed Duchene would not start next season with the Avs, even if he does he certainly wouldn't make all he could in bonuses (I'd imagine), so I'm not counting him, for now.

    When I got into Free agent signings tomorrow i'll make sure I mention it and keep it in mind.

    And just so everyone knows, when I put the lineups here, it's how I think a coach would play them, not how I would necessarily do it.