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I'm giving thedoctor full authority to jump in and enter his own thoughts here as well. Look for his thoughts as well

I'm going to go ahead and do something completely out of character* and give new GM Schrute Sherman some unsolicited advice here.

*may not actually be out of character

So GM Sherman, learn from your predecessor. Two seasons ago Francois Giguere listened to good 'ol Jibblescribbits advice and the Avs made a surprising run to the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Then last season FG got cockey and didn't listen to a word of my advice and the Avs... well it's best we not talk about it. So do yourself a favor and listen to Jibblescribbits. I know I criticize and can be harsh, but really I'm only trying to help.

Currently the Avs have $44.8M locked away in 14 players (including McLeod's new contract). They also have 5 RFAs, none of whom will command a gigantic salary. The Avs 5 RFAs are Cody McCormick, David Jones, Peter Budaj, and Kyle Cumiskey. Signing these guys should be GM Sherman's #1 priority before UFA begins 7/1. I expect the salaries of these guys to fall somewhere along the lines of:

McCormick - $550k
Jones - $700k
Budaj - $800k
Cumiskey - $525k

Yeah, all of these guys will be re-signed at or near their qualifying offers, and they should all have roster spots too.

For the sake of argument we're going to assume that all of these guys will be re-signed, Which brings the Avs total of $47.4M tied up into 18 players (which looks a little less daunting, until you realize that one of these players is Darcy Tucker). This leaves the Avs with a lineup next season that looks like this (RFA's in Green):

Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
Jones - Wolski - Svatos Jones is a far better player on his natural right side, imo.
The vortex of suckitude that is Darcy Tucker - The Ghost of Tyler Arnason (aka TJ Hensick) - Stewart
McCormick - TJ Galiardi (possibly) - McLeod Same for McLeod on his natural left side.

Clark- Cumiskey



I'll add my own lineup guess:

Smyth - Stastny - Hejduk
Tucker - Wolski - Svatos
McLeod - Hensick - Jones
McCormick - ??? - Stewart



Wow. GM Sherman you have a lot of work to do.

Let's get a list of working assumptions out of the way:
• Sakic is retiring. It may not happen, but we have to assume, and this is my guess.
• The Avs won't be able to unload any of the contracts holding them back. I hope they can, but I don't think it's likely.
• The Avs will take Duchene in the draft, but it's too early to pencil him into a regular lineup yet.
• The only minor league forward I can see cracking the Avs lineup this season may be Ryan Stoa (and TJ Galiardi obviously). Other than that the Avs don't have much help up front coming from LE, so the Avs will have to sign some forward depth. I would add Justin Mercier looked simply awesome in the last development camp I saw. He might be a dark horse for a roster spot as well...

Let's start this off with the Avs UFAs and whether they should be resigned.

Ian Laperriere I'm not going to spend too much time talking about Lappy here. I pretty much covered it at the trade deadline, and my position hasn't changed too much since then. (I probably would only give him about $1.5M/season, which is what he would accept.) When you look at the lineup the way i is above, I can see why the Avs aren't making a real effort to re-sign him. The Avs desperately need to spend their money upgrading their offensive talent, and Laperriere is not a step in that direction. McLeod and McCormick do similar things, etc.

Still Lappy should be re-signed for all the reasons I listed in my older piece. He is durable, even at 35, he's a strong penalty killer, and he is a jack of all trades. Players like that are good to have around.

Verdict: re-sign Lappy, 2 years @ $1.5M/season

Ben Guite: I honestly believe this to be a bit of a no-brainer. Guite is a nice 4th line role player, solid penalty killer and decent at face-offs (51.5%). He's a perfect cheap checking line center, and is the best Av at this role since the Avs traded Stephane Yelle away. He struggled a little coming back from injury, but eventually returned to form. Last season he made $475k, and he's probably due a substantial raise (Brian Willsie made $600k).

100% agreed. Guite is a perfect 4th liner, and needs to be brought back.

Verdict: Guite should be re-signed. 3 years @$650-800k/season is a good deal.

Joe Sakic The issue with Joe is his desire to come back, and his salary. He's 2 seasons removed from a 100pt season, but that feels like forever ago. Over his last 2 seasons he's been paid $6M and he hasn't been able to produce because of injuries. I think everyone wants him back, but the Avs simply cannot afford to bring him back at the same salary. If he wants to return he's going to have to take a substantial paycut.

Verdict Joe Sakic always has a place on this team if he wants it..... for $1 season @ $3.5M.

note: i'm going to go with the working assumption that he's going to retire when I look at non-av free agents

Tyler Arnason : In a word: No. In 41 words: If he takes the Ice in a unipron next season there will be protests in the streets of Denver that will make the streets of Tehran look desolate, and make the LA Lakers championship riot look like a hippy peace march.

Verdict No, No 1,000 times No.

Brian Willsie I think this is really more of a Lake Erie question. He did fine filling in when the avs were ravaged by injuries, and will probably provide some veteran leadership to the youngins in LE.
I have no problem signing him with the assumption he'll be starting in Lake Erie and will only see NHL action if the Avs are hit hard by injuries.

Verdict Re-sign with a 2-way contract for the minimum.

Daniel Tjarnqvist: I never thought you'd be a Ruski because the KHL is so passe'.
Verdict: Can't do it.

Andrew Raycroft The perpetual joke of the goaltending world, due to his struggles in Toronto, didn't look too bad in Denver. I think he earned himself a backup job somewhere, and I don't think it's out of question for him to eventually be a #1 again. He wasn't as bad as his numbers, even though he did have horrendous games. He's a poor mans Jose Theodore, which sounds terrible until you realize that "poor man's" covers every sense of the word. At $800k he's a better roster fit for most teams than Jose and his $4.5M.

However the Avs need a bona fide #1, and Raycroft still has some work to do. I wish him the best, but we can't wait him out.

Raycroft is the worst goalie to ever play for the Avalanche. He's awful. Good riddance.

Verdict Good luck Ray-Ray

Part 2... upcoming