Friday, May 29, 2009
Offseason Needs (Part 3)
Welcome back to part 3 of the Avs offseason needs going into this summer.
With Hannan, Liles, Foote, Clark, and Salei all signed next year for a combined (atrocious) 18.225 million, the Avs have little need to sign someone else. So, future GM of the Avalanche, I implore you: don't sign Daniel Tjarnqvist v.2. Please. No Jassen Cullimore, no Cory Murphy, no Josef Melichar. Signing a 6/7 defenseman is POINTLESS.
Kyle Cumiskey's development has been seriously hindered because he was stuck in the press box watching Daniel Tjarnqvist play last year. There's no point in singing a washed up bum to take time away from the young guys. I'm so adamant about this because I'm pretty sure the July 1st free agent signing ticker is going to say something like "Avalanche sign D Brett Hedican".
Kyle Cumiskey has been playing in the NHL since January 2007; give the kid a chance to prove he can stay in the line-up for once. Mike Vernace averaged 20 minutes a game last season, and he didn't even get any power play time. More importantly, he looked like he belonged; and that was when he was given top minutes. I see no reason why he can't be a #6 defenseman next year. Derek Peltier, while not a top choice, is good enough to play on the bottom pair if this team is ravaged with defensive injuries next season.
The Avs have two other guys who may be ready to make the NHL jump, too. The first is Nigel Williams, the Avs most promising defenseman currently playing in the AHL. He's big, skates well, and has a good shot. His game isn't polished yet, but I'd be surprised if we didn't see him given some NHL time next season.
The next player is Cameron Gaunce. This kid was drafted last year and already has himself an NHL contract after winning OHL defenseman of the year. Playing for Mississauga in the OHL, Gaunce racked up 64 points in 67 games, along with 10 points in 11 playoff games. If he gets cut in training camp, he'll be sent back to the OHL. There's also an outside (VERY outside) chance top defensive prospect Kevin Shattenkirk will be signed. If he's signed, then he's a lock to make the team.
What the defense should look like next year:
Liles (4.20) - Hannan (4.50)
Salei (3.025) - Foote (3.00)
Clark (3.50) - Cumiskey/Gaunce (0.850*)
I recommend keeping only 6 defenseman called up because keeping Vernace/Peltier in the press box does no good for them. I know it's "safe" to keep 7 defensemen with the big club, but it's not worth an additional 850K for a washed up gap stop (see above).
This scenario would make "our" cap hit at 46.775 on 16 players.
Part 4 coming soon.