Monday, June 1, 2009

Offseason Needs (Part 5)

Welcome to Offseason Needs part 5. Not sure if there will be a part 6 at some point, but for now we'll say this is the last part.


As you can see, I saved the most important part for last. I did a blog like this before, but things have changed a bit (Gustavsson factor).

The Avalanche need a goaltender like Tampa Bay needs a new GM. Not getting a legit starter very soon is just not an option. And the bad news is the free agent market doesn't provide any proven goalies.

Right now, the hot commodity is Swedish prospect Jonas Gustavsson. He's fresh off backstopping Farjestads to a Championship in the Swedish Elite League, and now is NHL bound. The teams interested are Dallas, San Jose, Toronto, and Colorado. Frankly, I like the Avs chances considering all of the other teams have a goalie making big bucks next season (Turco, Nabokov, Toskala).

I also think he's the best available option because the only season in risk is the next season. Because Gustavsson is 24, he's one year too young to get anything more than the rookie maximum. Thus, he'll only be signing a one year (3.7 million with bonuses) contract with whoever he signs with, that way he can cash out next summer. Thus, if he shows he's not an NHL caliber goalie, the only season down the toilet is 2009-2010.

The positive side of signing him is he has franchise potential. Nothing he's done shows he's not capable of thriving in the NHL, and whichever team signs this guy may be getting a goalie who will be a mainstay with their team for years to come.

If Gustavsson opts to sign elsewhere than Colorado, the next best option is probably Florida back-up goalie Craig Anderson. He was third in the NHL in save percentage, but he played 20 games less than both goalies who were ahead of him (Tim Thomas and teammate Thomas Vokoun). The positives with Anderson is he has had a very high SV% the last three seasons, is relatively young (28), and will probably be affordable (I estimate Anderson receiving a 2.5 million a year deal).

The negatives with Anderson is at age 28 he's never even started 30 games in a season, has no playoff experience, and will likely receive a 2-3 year deal. So, wouldn't adding Anderson be just another gap stop instead of finding Colorado a real starting goalie? Possibly, and not much can be done about it. Biron is likely to re-sign with the Flyers, Roloson and Khabibulin are too old (39,36), Harding is unlikely to be traded to a division rival, and even if Lehtonen isn't re-signed by Atlanta (which I suspect he will be), I don't see him coming to Colorado.

Scott Clemmensen and Ty Conklin remain options which we'll classify in the category of "Better than Peter Budaj". Both goalies had 25 wins this year, but both played for great defensive teams; possibly the two best in the league. Also, both are in their 30's and haven't accomplished squat prior to this season.

Still, both are better than Budaj, and neither will make more than 2 million dollars next season (assuming they opt for free agency). If I had to choose one, I'd say Clemmensen because he was playing great hockey all season until Brodeur came back. With Conklin, it was more of a case of him being put in every other game and being adequate enough for Detroit to get the win.

On the back-up front, the Avs need to conserve money. Re-signing Weiman and Bacashihua (to 2-way contracts) and making one of them the back up would be a good option. Both were solid in the AHL this season, and neither will receive a contract more than 550K. Also, it would create competition for the back-up spot in training camp between these two and recently signed Trevor Cann. Marc Denis and Kevin Weekes would both be decent back-up options, too.


After 5 long blogs, we've come to this point: the final team (with cap hits).

Smyth (6.25) - Stastny (6.60) - Hejduk (3.90)
********(See Part 4)******** - Stewart (0.850)
Stoa (0.850) - Reasoner (1.50*) - Jones (0.900*)
McLeod (1.00*) - Guite (0.600*) - Yip (0.850)
(30.6, 30.0)

Liles (4.20) - Hannan (4.50)
Salei (3.025) - Foote (3.00)
Clark (3.50) - Cumiskey (0.850*)

Gustavsson (3.70*)/Anderson (2.50*)
Weiman (0.550*)
(4.25, 3.05)

Scratches: Tucker (2.25)
TRADE: Svatos (2.050)

Assuming Colorado signs Gustavsson + Sakic/Tanguay: 56.175 million
Assuming Colorado signs Gustavsson + Duchene: 55.575 million
Assuming Colorado signs Anderson + Tanguay/Sakic: 54.975 million
Assuming Colorado signs Anderson + Duchene: 54.375 million


- Svatos needs to be traded. With this team in cap hell, and Tucker being untradable, Svatos HAS to go. A 2nd or 3rd round pick on draft day would be preferable.

- You'll notice T.J. Hensick isn't on the roster. There's a reason for that: he sucks. He's only useful in a top 6 role, and he's not good enough to deserve one. Start him off with Lake Erie (yet again) and hope he gets his act together.

- I know the Gustavsson + Sakic/Tanguay option looks very tight against the cap, but at this point who cares? You can't not sign Gustavsson because one year of cap problems, and you also can't go into another season without changing your top 6 forwards around following a year in which your team was the 30th ranked offense. It's better to have a little cap trouble for one year than it is to knowingly going into a season with a horrible team.

Final Thoughts:
I know it's nice to have those numbers "all pretty and nice", but the fact of the matter is I think I've just proven that some very minor changes (checking line center, goalie better than Peter Budaj) can drastically make this team a hell of alot better than it was in 2008-2009. I'm nothing more than a blogger, but I can guarantee you whoever is hired as Avalanche GM will not have the sense to sign a guy like Reasoner, and will instead opt to go with someone useless like Kyle Calder.

God, do I hope I'm wrong. Maybe it's just bad memories of Giguere fresh in my mind, but I don't have a heck of alot of confidence in this clubs management right now. Hopefully in the future we can look back at this blog and see how wrong I was.


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