UFA Options is a continuing series that gives a brief run-down of the unrestricted free agent market this summer, team-by-team. Our next team for consideration is the Colorado Avalanche.
The failure that was the Avalanche’s season resulted in the dismissal of general manager Francois Giguere, and may yet also cost coach Tony Granato his job. Whoever inherits the team (Patrick Roy?) has a few good assets, with most of the top-six locked up for another season, but he also will have a bunch of decisions to make on the bottom half of the roster. The team has eight regulars slated for unrestricted free agency; the headliner is captain Joe Sakic (great video above) but after him it’s a group of depth players.
- Age is calculated based on how old the player will be during the 2009-10 season.
- QualComp/QualTeam are the Quality of Competition/Teammates rankings from Behind the Net; the number appearing is each player’s ranking by position (forward/defense) on his own team.
- Def/Off Faceoffs is a comparison of the total number of shifts starting in the defensive and offensive zones, courtesy of Vic Ferrari’s Time On Ice. A positive number indicates starting more in the defensive zone, a negative number the opposite.
- All advanced statistics are courtesy of Behind the Net.
Vital Stats: 40 years old, 5’11”, 195lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 6,000,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 15GP – 2G – 10A – 12PTS, -6
2008-09 Contextual: 1st QualComp, 17th QualTeam, +8 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -8.4 Corsi/60, 1.67 EVPTS/60, 2.34 GFON/60, 4.68 GAON/60
One of the game’s all-time greats and a sure-fire future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, at this point it seems likely that Joe Sakic will retire. Rumour has it that he’s simply waiting until after the Stanley Cup is awarded, not wanting to detract from the playoffs. If he does decide to play another season, it’s all but impossible to picture him with any club other than Colorado.
Vital Stats: 30 years old, 5’11”, 204lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 1,675,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 71GP – 5G – 17A – 22PTS, -16
2008-09 Contextual: 5th QualComp, 10th QualTeam, -26 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -4.7 Corsi/60, 1.25 EVPTS/60, 1.95 GFON/60, 3.07 GAON/60
Since hitting a career high in goals and points (22 and 55, respectively) prior to the lockout, Arnason’s scoring touch has been getting less and less visible. His totals in every statistical category – goals, assists, points, and plus/minus – all represent career lows for the free agent centre. He was placed in a relatively difficult situation by coach Tony Granato this season, but even so he doesn’t add much of a physical presence and if he isn’t scoring than he’s simply not bringing much to the table. He’ll likely rebound to some degree, but at this point he’s a reclamation project. He was a healthy scratch at points during the season, and his NHL career may be in some jeopardy.
Vital Stats:35 years old, 6’1”, 200lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 1,150,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 74GP – 7G – 12A – 19PTS, EV
2008-09 Contextual: 11th QualComp, 3rd QualTeam, +21 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -6.0 Corsi/60, 1.38 EVPTS/60, 1.92 GFON/60, 1.99 GAON/60
Ian Laperriere’s season has been favourably commented on by many; it isn’t hard to see why, either. He’s a tough veteran of more than 1000 NHL games, he kills penalties, he fights and always brings a physical edge. On the other hand, he really doesn’t bring much in the way of offense. He’s a good support player and an ideal fit on a championship team’s fourth line (although he can also be called upon to play a third line role). He’s also been remarkably durable over his career. The only reason for caution here is that he’s probably going to get some decent contract offers this summer, and not many teams can afford to add more money to their bottom six.
Vital Stats:31 years old, 6’1”, 202lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 600,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 42GP – 1G – 3A – 4PTS, -6
2008-09 Contextual: 15th QualComp, 7th QualTeam, +44 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -3.9 Corsi/60, 0.58 EVPTS/60, 0.87 GFON/60, 1.89 GAON/60
Brian Willsie’s a fairly generic fourth-line player, both for good and bad; he doesn’t add much offense, but he’s an honest player and knows how to make safe, conservative plays. He’s the kind of relatively cheap addition that can play whatever role is asked of him and isn’t hurt by long stretches in the press box.
Vital Stats:31 years old, 6’1”, 211lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 475,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 50GP – 5G – 7A – 12PTS, +2
2008-09 Contextual: 13th QualComp, 2nd QualTeam, -41 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -4.7 Corsi/60, 1.44 EVPTS/60, 2.16 GFON/60, 2.04 GAON/60
I’ve always like Ben Guite, another plugger who has had an improbable NHL career after starting out in the ECHL and spending years as a relatively low-scoring AHL player. He put up unremarkable numbers in a sheltered role on a bad team and isn’t a liability. I’ve always been impressed whenever I’ve seen him play but he isn’t likely to ever be much more than veteran depth.
Vital Stats:33 years old, 6’2”, 201lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 750,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 37GP – 2G – 2A – 4PTS, +1
2008-09 Contextual: 8th QualComp, 8th QualTeam, -35 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: +1.1 Corsi/60, 0.49 EVPTS/60, 2.08 GFON/60, 1.83 GAON/60
I’m an unabashed fan of Tjarnqvist, a very capable defensemen with some serious injury woes. He got into the NHL via expansion, spending three seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers before signing on with Minnesota post-lockout. He was quite good during his season in Edmonton, although injuries limited him to 37 games. Because of his injury problems he can’t be relied on to be more than a depth defenseman, but he comes cheap and when healthy is an above average third-pairing option.
Vital Stats:30 years old, 6’, 200lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 550,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 19GP – 3G – 5A – 8PTS, +19
2008-09 Contextual: 6th QualComp, 2nd QualTeam, -1 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -9.2 Corsi/60, 0.34 EVPTS/60, 2.40 GFON/60, 2.06 GAON/60
Nycholat matched his career high with 19 NHL games this season, split between Colorado and Vancouver (although he was also briefly the property of the Calgary Flames). He’s an excellent AHL defenseman, bringing a combination of hard-nosed physical play and offensive ability. He’s not the most reliable guy in his own end, but is a good option as a reserve player and occasional callup. He could also help a club with an exceptionally young AHL blueline.
Vital Stats: 29 years old, 6’, 185 lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 800,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 31GP, 12-16-0, 3.14 GAA, .892 SV%
Raycroft, rather predictably, was not the answer in net for Colorado. Raycroft won the Calder Trophy in 2003-04, but fell apart after the lockout. Since the lockout he’s posted save percentages of .879, .894, .876 and .892 this season. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make the jump to Europe; I doubt any NHL team would want him much higher than #3 on their depth chart.