Free Agency Anyone?

Free agency is almost here, and like most hockey fans, I am having some trouble waiting. Which superstars will land where? Which teams will make noise? Will the Avalanche sign a superstar? Or like last year, do basically nothing.

[caption id="attachment_135" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="Jean-Sebastien Giguere ; Photo by Associated Press"][/caption]

Goaltending is the main area that needs the most improvement for the Avalanche.

[caption id="attachment_136" align="alignright" width="379" caption="Josh Harding; Photo by Associated Press / Jim Mone"][/caption]

Neither Peter Budaj or Brian Elliot played well enough last season to put management at ease. Two targets for the Avalanche in goal are Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Tomas Vokoun. If Colorado lets both of these goalies sign with other teams, they have written off making the playoffs next year. There is enough cap room to go after one of these netminders and both could fill in for the three years or so until Calvin Pickard is ready to take over. Other goalies on the market are Mike Smith and Josh Harding. Both are young enough to sign for around five years and eventually serve as a reliable backup, but neither have proven they can be elite level goalies. Goaltending is also the one area the Avs failed to address in the draft.

With the trading of John-Michael Liles and retiring of Adam Foote, the Avs are even thinner at defense. There are unfortunately few defensemen who can be long-term solutions along the blueline.

Overall, the 2011 NHL Free Agent Class is particularly weak. There are some good centers available, but that is the last thing Colorado needs. The Avs have the financial wiggle room, but first need to decide if they are going to make a realistic playoff run in 2011-12 or spend another year rebuilding.


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