Avalanche 2022 Free Agents, Draft Targets, Offseason Guide After NHL Stanley Cup Win | Bleacher Report

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    The Colorado Avalanche won the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals with a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 on Sunday.

    It was an exciting end to the season for the Avalanche, who were the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season. They led the Central Division with a 56-19-7 record and seemed poised to land a deep playoff run.

    After another season, it’s back to the drawing board for general manager Joe Sakic, who will attempt to add more tracks centered around Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar for a repeat.

    Let’s take a look at Colorado’s free agents, some draft goals, and what to expect in the future.

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    Andre Burakovsky (UFA), Nazem Kadri (UFA), Valerie Nichushkin (UFA), Artturi Lehkonen (RFA), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (RFA), Darren Helm (UFA), Nico Sturm (UFA), Andrew Cogliano (UFA) Josh Manson (UFA), Ryan Murray (UFA), Jack Johnson (UFA), Darcy Kumper (UFA)

    The Avalanche has a long list of free agents, but Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri and Darcy Kuemper will be the top three players for the franchise to be newly signed this offseason.

    Kuemper is arguably the most important player Colorado has to suspend. The 32-year-old ended the 2021-22 season with a 37-12-4 record, a 2.54 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. He was a major reason the Avs reached the Stanley Cup Finals and he will be one of the best goaltenders in the open market.

    Marc Andre-Fleury, Braden Holtby and Jack Campbell are among the other top goalkeepers available, although Kuemper outperformed everyone in the 2021-22 season.

    Burakovsky was also critical to Colorado’s offensive success in the 2021-22 season, finishing with 22 goals and 39 assists for 61 points in 79 games. He played for the Avs on a two-year, $9.8 million contract and may be looking for a longer contract this time.

    Kadri has been a key element in the Avs offense, with 28 goals and 59 assists for 87 points in 71 games. He is nearing the end of a six-year, $27 million contract he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded to Colorado. It’s unclear what kind of contract he might be looking for.

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    The Avalanche don’t have many choices in this year’s draft, so there aren’t many high-profile prospects to target.

    Colorado does not have a first-round pick and will not make its first pick in the NHL draft until the third round.

    These are their current selections in the 2022 draft:

  • A third-round pick
  • A fifth-round pick
  • A sixth-round pick
  • A selection from the seventh round

The Avs initially had a first-round pick, but they traded the pick to acquire Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes. The franchise also had a second-round pick but traded it to the New York Islanders in a deal for Devon Toews.

With a third-round pick, Colorado is hoping for a bargain price. Some third-round picks that have had success in the NHL in recent years include Jonathan Toews, Henrik Sedin, Matt Duchene, Jonathan Huberdeau and Jonathan Drouin.

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    Considering Colorado has a lot of free agents, that will give the team room to make some improvements of their own.

    With players like Cale Makar, Bowen Byram, and Erik Johnson holding down defense, it’s reasonable to think the Avalanche will place more of an emphasis on offensive free agents.

    However, some targets could include Claude Giroux, Filip Forsberg, Ondrej Palat and Johnny Gaudreau.

    Giroux was reportedly interested in joining the Avalanche at the close, but was instead traded to the Florida Panthers. Now that he’s a free agent, there’s no reason to think he won’t be interested in going to Colorado.

    The 34-year-old continues to be one of the most prolific forwards in the NHL. He finished the 2021-22 season with 21 goals and 44 assists for 65 points in 75 games. In addition to his offensive skills, his leadership skills and veteran presence would be welcomed in a Colorado locker room with a slew of young players.

    Forsberg, meanwhile, would also be a good option for the Avs if they don’t sign Giroux. The 27-year-old recorded 42 goals and 42 assists for 84 points in 69 games with the Nashville Predators in the 2021-22 season, and his shot on target is just what the team needs to move forward.

    Gaudreau and Palat would also be interesting replacements for Burakovsky, who is set to become a free agent. The former had a career year with the Calgary Flames in 2021-22 and finished with 40 goals and 75 assists for 115 points in 82 games, while the latter had 18 goals and 28 assists for 46 points in 76 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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