After sinking to the bottom of the Western Conference this season, the Colorado Avalanche franchise appears headed for big changes.
One obvious option this summer is moving forward Paul Stastny, who has one year and $6.6 million left on his contract. Cashiering Stastny would allow the team to extend the contract of its true No. 1 center, Matt Duchene – who has one year and $3.75 million left on his deal.
The Denver Post suggests a five-year deal for $30 million to $35 million could make that happen. That sounds fair, given similar signings elsewhere in the league.
The team does not want to travel down the road it did with Ryan O’Reilly, who eventually got an offer sheet from the Calgary Flames. That hostile bid, matched by Colorado, earned O’Reilly a $2.5 million signing bonus for this shortened season and a $6.5 million salary for next season.
He is another player the Avalanche needs to lock in before visiting free agency. To afford that, the team should offload the disappointing Stastny.
Since scoring 79 points in 2009-10, Stastny slid to 57 and 53 points the next two seasons. He has scored just 23 points in 38 games this season and he is minus-21 over the past two-plus seasons.
His on-ice body language screams out “scenery change.” With the NHL salary cap coming down next season and many teams looking to cost payroll, the Avalanche can’t expect to get much in return for Stastny.
But they need to make a deal anyway. The St. Louis Blues should at least consider it, since Stastny, who grew up in St. Louis, could offer an element they currently lack up the middle.