Sunday, June 22, 2008

Unrestricted Free Agent Thoughts

After yesterday's draft, it's hard to imagine any of those players that the Avs picked making an immediate impact next year. Gaunce and Tessier may have the best shots, but even those players are somewhat of a mystery at this point.

With that being said, lets take a look at the players Colorado will have to deal with in free agency this year.

This post will only deal with players scheduled for Unrestricted Free Agency.

Unrestricted - Player can sign with any team starting July 1st

Andrew Brunette
Jeff Finger
Adam Foote
Peter Forsberg
John-Michael Liles
Scott Parker
Joe Sakic
Kurt Sauer
Wyatt Smith
Jose Theodore

Restricted - Player is eligible to sign and receive offer sheets, but current team has chance to match

Johnny Boychuk
Cody McCormick
Cody McLeod
Marek Svatos
Tyler Weinman
Wojtek Wolski

Fates Decided - Player has already made a decision in regards to future plans

Jaroslav Hlinka - Signed in Sweden

Who The Avs Should Keep - UFA

Joe Sakic should be the first name that jumps out at you. He has already said that he will either sign with the Avs (another one year deal) or retire. If he chooses to not come back, that will free up some cap room and will allow the Avs to either go out and sign another free agent or sign somebody they were originally going to have to let go.

Jose Theodore has also publicly said that he wants to stay in Colorado.


Theodore's agent said Wednesday he expects to talk with Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere soon about a new contract for the 31-year- old goalie, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"We're looking forward to seeing Francois and having discussions with him," agent Don Meehan said. "Jose's priority would be to be back in Denver. We've expressed that to Francois, and they've indicated they would like to have him back."

Source: www.rockymountainnews.com

Theodore played well for the Avs last season and if he wants to come back and is willing to take much less than he was making when he came to Colorado, then he will be retained.

The most interesting problem is what we do with our defenseman. Adam Foote, Jeff Finger, Kurt Sauer, and John-Michael Liles are all UFA's come July 1st.

Liles played well last season but has been in a decline offensively for the last three seasons. His totals have gone from 49 t0 42 and have bottomed out at 32 this past season. As a quarterback on the power play, I've never believed Liles was particularly effective and about to turn 28, he hasn't made significant steps throughout his career. A fan favorite, I believe looking to trade the rights to Liles wouldn't be a bad idea, and then trying to land someone like Wade Redden, who could do the job just as well.

Sauer is also an interesting case. At one point, he was our best defenseman last season. However, he is wildly inconsistent and is somebody else I think should be let go.

As you may have guessed, it's my opinion that Colorado should work hard to keep Adam Foote and Jeff Finger. Finger is young (and affordable) and isn't afraid to use his body. Foote cost us a first round draft pick and losing him would be the equivalent to Pittsburgh possibly losing Marian Hossa.

With those signings, the defense would consist of Foote, Clark, Finger, Hannan, Salei, and Leopold with Cumiskey waiting in the wings. Don't forget, by not signing Sauer and Liles, the Avs would be able to go out into the market and sign another defenseman to add depth.

On the offensive end, Peter Forsberg is said to be meeting with his doctors and will make a decision as to whether or not he is fit to play.

After league meetings in Detroit two weeks ago, Giguere said Forsberg was visiting a doctor in Sweden to determine if he can physically handle another season.

"I think his will to want to play is there," Giguere said. "Now there's a question medically - does he think that he's capable of playing a full season?"

Source: www.rockymountainnews.com

With the bad feedback I'll receive in mind, I have to say that it's time for Forsberg to retire. Wehther it's been the ankle or the groin or the visa, the troubles surrounding this guy are too great to take on for a full 82 game season plus the playoffs. He needs to go out now while he still has some dignity.

Someone who does need to come back is Andrew Brunette. There have been no reports of contract talks and Giguere would be a fool to let him go. He played in all 82 games last season and was the team's second leading scorer in both the playoffs and the regular season.

Less importantly, Scott Parker and Wyatt Smith are all but irrelevant. Parker's time in Colorado is done if the rumors about Per Ledin are true and Wyatt Smith will only be signed to fill out the team in Lake Erie.

Whatever the Avs decide to do, they will be active when trying to sign players in the Free Agent market. While not looking at somebody like a Marian Hossa or a Brian Campbell, somebody like Mark Streit would be a good fit for this team.

In my next post, we'll take a look at the restricted free agents and at top free agents league wide.

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