Every one had a feeling it was coming. In 2013 the NHL went into Lock out - which somehow they managed to gain back half the season. Regardless, Colorado had their hand forced in contract negotiations with Ryan O'Reilly when he signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames. A contract that Joe Sakic never intended O'Reilly to get. After his first three NHL seasons, Ryan had never scored more than 18 goals, his highest assist total was 37 and never got higher than a +4 and In 6 playoff games, he had 1 point. Yes his two way play is spectacular, but those numbers, they just were never worthy of a contract worth more than $4 million per season. So Ryan, his agent and Sakic went rounds before Ryan turned to Calgary where he was offered a 2 year deal worth 3.5 and 6.5 million. Once that contract was up, Colorado knew they would have to pay Ryan what he wanted to keep him, not what they wanted. Two seasons later, they were back at it again, Ryan wanted long term upwards of 50 million, Sakic again did not want to pay that money. Yet hours before the arbitration hearing, Colorado reached another 2 year deal with Ryan. Sadly this 2 year deal would see O'Reilly as a UFA by the end of the 2nd year. Leaving Joe Sakic not only paying Ryan $12 Million dollars, but being forced into a spot where he would either sign Ryan to huge money he didnt deserve or trade him. Due to the fact that Paul Stastny burned Joe that same summer, Sakic would not lose Ryan for nothing. In those two seasons - Ryan tired to prove he was worth $6 million or more a season. However, he with the team fell off the wagon, and after one amazing season, he dropped back down to the player that deserves no more than $4 million a season. (Not that any player deserves even $1 million per season in my opinion.)
With negotiations going south yet again, Sakic did what was best for the organization, he dumped his money hungry forward off on a team desperate for any player with a decent skill set. Ryan O'Reilly would be packing his bags along side Jamie McGinn. Now McGinn, is a well rounded player, yet his is NOT a top 6 forward. He basically was a swap with Buffalo forward Mikhail Grigorenko. A former #12 overall pick in 2012, Mikhail never found a grove in Buffalo, and he was never surrounded by the skill set of a Matt Duchene or Nathan MacKinnion. O'Reilly is the money maker here by landing Colorado with young promising D Nikita Zadorov, JT Compher and the 31st overall selection in 2015.
Word on the street is that Zadorov needs to grow up, he needs to learn some maturity, he also just turned 20 in April. Semyon Varlamov will finally have a few Russian fellows in Denver and will more than likely take the kids under his wings. He can instill some maturity into Nikita since the will be working on the back end together. The young defensemen has played 67 career games, owns 16 points and is a -14. He was the #16 selection in 2013 - obviously passing on him due to having the #1 pick where they tagged Nathan MacKinnon. In that draft they also tagged Chris Bigras, Mason Geertson, and Will Butcher - 3 more D who could play in the NHL but most promising is Bigras.
JT Compher - he may be the sleeper in this deal, he also just turned 20 in April. This 5'11" Centre has never played in the NHL, but plays for the University of Michigan. He numbers are not off the charts however, he is a kid that could develop into a solid 2 way guy on the 3rd or 4th line. He owns two silver and one goal medal in international play for team USA and owns honors at UM for the all-big freshmen team, second team and freshmen of the year in 2013-14. His reasoning, he lead lead the team, and all Big Ten freshman in scoring, recording 11 goals and 20 assists. He was an early 2nd round pick in 2013 at #35 where Colorado passed on his to get Chris Bigras. So by 2013 NHL Draft standards, could now has the #1, #16, #32 and #35 picks.
Colorado then also got the #31 pick in 2015 - this pick was traded to San Jose where they received the #39 pick in 2015 - the also got the 2nd round pick in 2016 and the 6th round pick in 2015. Which were both traded to San Jose last season in exchange for D Brad Stuart. With that trade Colorado got: Brad Stuart, Anthony-John (AJ) Greer, and 2016 2nd and 6th rounders.
Anthony-John Greer - a LW out of Boston University - over shadowed a lot by #2 overall pick Jack Eichel. This 18 year old brings a lot of size to the front for Colorado, he stands 6'2'' with 206lbs of love. He has committed to Boston University and will skate the same ice as Colorado's 2013 draft pick Will Butcher.
Now that the trade is broken down and Colorado has gotten rid of money hungry forward O'Reilly (THANK GOD!!!) I switch to the 2015 Colorado Avalanche draft selection!
After attempted trades to possibly move up, Colorado stayed pat at #10 where they landed the kid they wanted any way.
#10 Mikko Rantanen - Rantanen was the #1 ranked European Skater in 2015 nhl draft. Has this not been the Eichel, McDavid draft, I could has seen Rantanen going top 5. I could have seen Strome, Hanifan and Provorov going 1,2,3 or Zacha as a close #3. Regardless, Colorado gets a big kid here in Mikko. This 6'4" 209lbs kid has the ability to step into the NHL on day 1 against Minnesota, he has played with the men in the TPS league and has the ability to handle the physical aspect of the NHL. No he is not going to score a million goals, but his play making ability is off the charts and he prides him self to play similar to Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. If he is with MacKinnon, Duchene (its no question he could play wing with Landeskog) he will open up that ability to make the plays that land the slam dunk.
Let me put his size into perspective - Landeskog is 6'1" 210lb
#39 AJ Greer - Touched on AJ earlier, he can develop into a solid 3/4 guy that has a good two way sense. With commitments to BU, Greer will probably not wear an Avs sweater for some time. He needs to continue to develop even though he has the size at 6'2" 209lbs, his skill level needs more polishing.
#40 Defensemen Nicolas Meloche - Another big boy on the draft for Colorado - Meloche is 6'3" 205 lbs. Meloche won gold with Canada in 2014 with the IH18 - and has played the past two seasons with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Is two seasons he has played 98 career games and tallied 59 points. It is safe to say the Meloche will stay with the Drakkar until he can either leap into the NHL or hit the San Antonio Rampage - Nicolas is 17, but will be having his golden birthday this year on July 18th.
#71 Jean-Christopher Beaudin - 18 year old centre - 6'1" 181lbs - not the biggest in the Avs Draft but still a decent size. Jean-Christopher will see himself staying with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He has good point totals, but this player is clearly a depth player for the Avalanche that they hope can become an NHLer one day.
#101 Andrei Mironov - He is a little older at 20 years old. Andrei is a Russian defensemen that stands 6'2" 194lbs - he has played the past 3 seasons with Dynomo Moskva and also helped Russia to two bronze medals in IIHF world championships in 2013 and 14.
#161 Sergei Boikov - Third Russian defensemen landed by Colorado on this day (2nd by draft) - Sergei is a 6'2' 194 lbs kid also who just turned 19 this past January. He was second among the Voltigeurs D is assists with 18 and points with 21. He also had a team best +11 rating after 64 games in this past season. In 2013, Boikov represented Russia in the Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
#191 Gustav Olhaver - Olhaver was the final pick for Colorado, he is a 6'6" 215lb 17 year old kid from Sweden (he will be 18 on July 3) The Angelholm, Sweden native spent the majority of the 2014-15 campaign with Rogle Jr. (Under-20) in Sweden, where he tallied 12 points (6g/6a) in 41 games. Olhaver, also spent time with Rogle’s Under-18 Team, recording 25 points (14g/11a) in 18 contests. Internationally, he appeared in five games at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championship and tallied one goal.]
What is on the table in Free Agency for Colorado
During the draft there has been A LOT of speculation that Colorado wants to go hard after Chicago 2 time cup winner Johnny Oduya. Andrej Sekera is another name Colorado has tossed around and not to leave out Matt Irwin who is another defensemen the Colorado is looking at.
I cannot speculate on how much Colorado will push for offense since their goal is Defense, However, they do have quite a bit of cap space after unloading 9.5 million onto Buffalo. If the Avs are looking for cup winners again, Justin Williams may be a shot. They also have Matt Belesky, Joel Ward as some shots in the dark. But those are pretty much the top guys available, teams will be looking to over pay to get them.
In goal, I would LOVE Colorado to pick up a solid #2 guy. Reto Berra is just rank...horrible, bad, sad, terrible, just down right awful. Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio are both RFA's - with Spencer Martin coming in, I dont see Colorado keeping both Aittokallio and Pickard unless the have a package trade in mind. However, I see Sakic asking Pickard to stay over Sami. But there are names on the table in the goalie UFA world still, though the only go to guy I could see would be Michal Neuvirth. He has proven to be a fairly solid back up when he has a stable, non Buffalo Saber team in front of him. If Colorado can land 1-2 fairly decent UFA D then Neuvirth could prove to be a solid #2 to Varly (kind of sounds like deja vu from Washington) two guys that know each other. If you choose to avoid that route Kari Ramo or Jhonas Enroth would both be more reliable that Berra but not my first choices.
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