One of many largest holes within the Colorado Avalanche lineup in 2022-23 was the middle spot on the second line. They by no means actually obtained the reply they had been in search of on the place, but it surely wasn’t for a scarcity of attempting.
Following the workforce’s run to the 2022 Stanley Cup, Colorado’s cap state of affairs meant they weren’t going to have the ability to maintain Nazem Kadri round. He left for the Calgary Flames in free company, and the Avs leaned on the gamers they’d of their secure to fill the hole. The outcome was a mishmash of gamers spending time within the spot – from J.T. Compher to Alex Newhook to Lars Eller, simply to call just a few.
Compher carried out essentially the most admirably, however his profession 12 months might have priced the unrestricted free agent out of the Avalanche’s cap constraints. With Compher wanting like he is perhaps on his manner out, and endurance operating skinny with Newhook, listed below are some exterior choices for Colorado on the second heart spot.
This selection most likely makes essentially the most sense, however Ryan O’Reilly‘s price ticket is perhaps a bit lofty as soon as he hits the open market. That’s due partially to his capacity and unbelievable resume, but in addition as a result of how skinny the free agent market is at this spot. He’s 32 years outdated, however O’Reilly can nonetheless carry out at a excessive stage, even when his numbers dipped a bit final season as he cut up time with the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s additionally a incredible two-way participant, and brings gobs of management to the desk.
O’Reilly notoriously led the Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019, successful the Conn Smythe Trophy alongside the best way. He’s additionally received a Girl Byng Memorial Trophy, in addition to a Frank J. Selke Trophy. He’s by no means had 20 penalty minutes in a season, and has hit 20 targets in six of the final eight campaigns. Colorado wouldn’t essentially want him to blast off offensively, however having a participant like O’Reilly in the course of the second line would shore up a whole lot of points.
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His first six NHL seasons had been performed with the Avalanche, and he may very well be extra vital to the workforce now than he was then. Colorado does have some cap reduction from Gabriel Landeskog occurring long-term injured reserve for everything of the 2023-24 season, but it surely’s not like there aren’t different roster spots to fill in Colorado. If they’ll get O’Reilly for a cap hit of round $5 million, it will likely be a pretty choice for each side to contemplate.
Elias Lindholm is perhaps the very best match on the market for the Avalanche, however there are two issues with buying him. First, he’s nonetheless below contract with the Flames for another season. Second, it seems just like the pesky Flames are nonetheless attempting to win, that means they received’t simply half with high quality items like Lindholm. The 28-year-old heart had 22 targets and 64 factors final season, however he’s only a 12 months faraway from a 42-goal marketing campaign in 2021-22 when he was additionally runner-up for the Selke Trophy.
Lindholm is within the final 12 months of his contract, and Calgary will possible ask for lots from him. The Flames already endured a state of affairs the place they misplaced Johnny Gaudreau to free company with out getting something in return, in order that they’ll be cautious about historical past repeating itself with Lindholm. That would make his price ticket too hefty for the Avalanche to get him, particularly if there’s no assure that he’s going to hold round in Colorado as soon as that contract expires.
This one can be a bit of little bit of a flyer, however he is perhaps rather less costly than the opposite choices however not by a lot. Max Domi stared down a one-year, $3 million “show it” contract with the Chicago Blackhawks final season, and got here by means of with flying colours. He scored 18 targets and 49 factors in 60 video games with one of many NHL’s worst groups earlier than getting traded to the Dallas Stars on the commerce deadline.
The 28-year-old Domi will possible be in search of one thing long-term after enjoying for 4 completely different groups during the last two seasons. Colorado had luck with signing Evan Rodrigues after an enormous season late in his profession, and Domi may be capable of pull that off for the Avalanche once more. Domi is a flexible participant that performs each heart and wing, and had his finest season successful faceoffs in 2022-23. His time in Chicago confirmed he can create offense on his personal, and his 13 factors in 19 playoff video games with Dallas proved he may contribute with a contender.
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The Avalanche possible received’t wish to spend greater than $5 million in common annual worth on any single free agent, since there are nonetheless another gamers that can have to be introduced in to fill out the roster. Nevertheless, the second-line heart was a thorn in Colorado’s aspect all season in 2022-23, and it ought to be a high precedence within the offseason. Colorado is clearly in a championship window, however this will probably be a vital offseason to see if that window stays open.