The Colorado Avalanche locked key forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog into long-term deals.
Will the franchise do the same for productive forwards Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly?
And what about goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and J.S. Giguere, who are also playing under expiring contracts?
Joe Sakic and Co. have some big business decisions to make. Owner Stan Kroenke is a billionaire and the NHL salary cap will rise for next season, so this franchise could conceivable take care of these players.
Then again, the Avalanche would lose long-term budget flexibility by signing all of today’s front-line players to epic contracts.
Duchene has a five-year, $30 million deal that runs until 2019. Landeskog has a seven-year, $39 million contract that runs until 2021.
Stastny is making $6.6 million in the final year of his contract. He is a pending unrestricted free agent sure to draw heavy interest in the marketplace. He has 13 goals and added 31 assists in 43 games this season.
O’Reilly is pulling down $6.5 million. He will be a restricted free agent – and he drew a RFA offer sheet the last time his contract expired. He has 16 goals and 14 assists in 43 games.
Each forward will command contracts in the Duchene/Landeskog range.
Conventional wisdom has Sakic dealing one of these forwards for defensive help to balance the franchise’s commitment to both ends of the ice. Colorado has an army of promising young defensemen, but an established Top Four defender could do this team a world of good.