Picking up on where I left off with my last article, which you can find here, it’s now time to examine which players should not be welcomed to return for the Colorado Avalanche next season.
Unlike my previous article (which discussed who should stay) where I only examined players who were due for contract extensions, here I will examine players whose contracts have expired as well as those whose contracts have not expired, but they should either be traded or released.
This would be a shocker to many people, as the common belief is that Stastny should most definitely return as a leader on the team. And, in the time since I originally decided that he should not return, I’ve seen a little bit of the rationale as to why he should stick around.
Paul Stastny brings so many intangibles to this roster. The young core of forwards that the Avalanche has (Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Gabe Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon) all look up to Stastny as a role model. He’s the old guy in that group, even though he’s only 28 years old and should just be entering into his prime.
More than just the impact he has with those players, Stastny and his family line (Peter Stastny) have been a part of the Avalanche/Nordiques organization for so long. The Avalanche are the only team that Stastny knows, and the city of Denver is where he loves to call home. He not only has played solely for the Avalanche in his NHL career, but he played at the University of Denver before that.
Now, one reason that I would let Stastny walk away is that if we get to July 1st, the start of free agency, there will be a team that comes at him with a contract offer that I don’t believe the Avalanche should match. It has long been rumored that Stastny has been coveted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, as Stastny has been a hot topic in trade rumors over the last several years. If he reaches free agency, it would not be a shocker to see someone overpay to steal him away.
For me, the only reason to let Stastny walk is if there is another big name player that the Avalanche feel they can land in free agency, and I feel there is one. I will keep who I think they should go after under wraps for now, but a quick hint is that he is still playing in the NHL playoffs right now.
For the Avalanche, if they feel they can resign Stastny for a decent hometown discount, which in my opinion would be between $5.5 million and $6 million per year, maybe he should stick around. But they would be wise to avoid a bidding war for his services that escalates higher towards the $7 million range.
A major free agent signing two off-seasons ago, Parenteau has two years left on his 4-year, $16 million contract that brought him to Colorado. For a contract of that size, Parenteau produced a meager 33 points in 55 games this season. For a guy that was brought in by Joe Sacco to be a top-6 forward, he has underachieved in both ends of the first two years of his contract.
Sure, Parenteau was able to put up 43 points in 48 games during the lockout shortened season. But he is frequently the last forward back to the defensive end and proves to be a defensive liability for this team. They could go out and find someone else to fill the role he plays for much less than $4 million.
What should Colorado do with him? Well, there are some teams that should find some value in Parenteau, even at the $4 million cap hit he comes with. The Avalanche have a surplus on offense, and a need on defense. What they should do with Parenteau is find a team that has the opposite problem and make a swap.
Wilson spent most of this season in Patrick Roy’s doghouse. He was actually healthy for much of the second half of the season, yet even though he was healthy he ended up being a healthy scratch more often than not.
Wilson ended up appearing in only 28 regular season games, producing only 6 points, all assists. That’s not terrible for a stay-at-home defenseman usually, but for the Avalanche, they had six defenseman this year who scored at least 10 points and all had higher plus-minus ratings than Wilson, so they not only were helping on the offensive end of the rink, but they were producing in their own end as well.
Wilson will be a difficult one to get rid of, as he does carry a $2.25 million cap hit, and his contract is set to expire after the 2014-2015 season. A team that takes a flier on Wilson will more than likely want him as just a depth defenseman, much like the Avalanche have used him the last year or two.
The passing of a legend. “Giggy” has been a highly respected professional in this league for years, but his age is finally catching up to him and he is having his contract expire and is likely heading for retirement.
He will be missed by the Avalanche, though, as he has been one of the more vocal and honest members of the team. Last season, Giguere was the one who called out some of his teammates before the end of the final game that he was frustrated that they were more focused on their postseason trips to Las Vegas than wrapping up their season.
This year, Giguere saw less ice time as Semyon Varlamov grew into his role on the team of being the dominant starting goaltender. However, Giguere’s most important asset at this point in his career is his experience and leadership.
Giguere opened up his house this year and had rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon stay with him and his family. The Avalanche have a history of doing this with their rookies. There are long histories of this, going back to Alex Tanguay living in Patrick Roy’s basement during the Stanley Cup winning 2001 season. MacKinnon was able to learn from Giguere, and that has been Giguere’s best assist this season.
Those four guys should all be gone this coming season. The only exception to that I see is if Stastny is willing to take a significant hometown discount to stay in the city that he knows and loves. If that is the case, the Avs should welcome him back with open arms. If he is in it for the money, Toronto has more than enough of it to make him happy, yet he will probably not be in the running for a Stanley Cup in the next few years like he would be if he stayed in Colorado.