The Colorado Avalanche finished their season on home ice against the Seattle Kraken in a hard-fought Game 7 that saw them lose 2-1. Without Gabriel Landeskog, the Avs were unable to win a playoff series, which is an obstacle that will not go away in 2023-24.
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It was reported that the captain will also miss next season, which adds to an offseason full of questions. They have 5 defencemen (Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Devon Toews, Josh Manson, and Kurtis MacDermid) and 5 forwards (Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen, Logan O’Connor) under contract for next season with both goaltenders being under contract as well. The real questions lie with the unsigned players.
Could a Big Splash Be in the Works?
With so much uncertainty surrounding the forward core, there is room for the Avalanche to make a big splash to make up for the absence of their captain.
There is speculation surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander. Could the Avs make an aggressive push for the 27-year-old winger? Nylander posted an impressive 87 points in 82 games last season before putting up 10 points in 11 playoff games. Throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he was arguably the best forward on the Leafs.
Whether or not the Avalanche have the cap space for a move of this magnitude is a huge question. They have plenty of restricted free agents (RFAs) that need to be signed ahead of next year. They have their 2023 first-round pick but then no other picks until the fifth round, which could also complicate a major trade.
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Notable RFAs & UFAs
The Avalanche have 3 RFAs heading into the offseason, and these negotiations will set the tone for how their summer is going to go. Alex Newhook, Denis Malgin, and Bowen Byram are due for a new contract, and as we’ve seen in the past, the Avalanche organization likes to go long-term on contracts with their younger players.
According to CapFriendly.com, they are projected to have roughly $13.5 million in cap space to sign these three players, along with their long list of unrestricted free agents (UFAs)
Both Jack and Erik Johnson on defense are UFAs, to go along with Andrew Cogliano, Lars Eller, JT Compher, Evan Rodrigues, and more upfront. It will be a maze to figure out who to sign and where to fill holes, but it seems their organizational depth will be tested in a big way next season.
With roughly one month until the NHL draft, the Avalanche will need to act fast to figure out both their salary cap issues and how they are going to fill out the rest of their roster. With a core of Mackinnon, Makar, Rantanen, and Toews, they have as solid of a base as anyone in the NHL to overcome a cap crunch.