Question: Is free agent John Tavares a possibility or pipe dream for the Avalanche?
Kiz: Six NHL playoff games. Heady stuff. The Avs poured six shots of bourbon, set ’em on on the bar, and the party was back in Denver. I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. So how does Colorado become a legit contender for the Stanley Cup next year? Go get us a legit scorer to lead the No. 2 line, Joe Sakic. How about John Tavares? He’s 27 years old. He has scored nearly 300 NHL goals. He’s about to become a free agent.
Chambers: I believe the Avs will indeed deliver a solid pitch to Tavares, and I think the 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick — selected two spots ahead of Matt Duchene — will consider joining the NHL’s youngest team. It’s often difficult to lure Eastern Conference veterans west, because of the more difficult travel, but Tavares is all about putting him in the best position to win the Stanley Cup. Although the Avs certainly aren’t there yet, they have an excellent growth plate in place — partly because of the Duchene trade — and Tavares would work with Nathan MacKinnon and Colorado’s other leaders.
Kiz: There will be no shortage of suitors for Tavares. Heck, a bidding war could break out for his services within the New York metro area. If Tavares gets a dime in free agency, he’ll earn $9 million per year. That’s some heavy coin. But I can almost guarantee you this: Nobody would welcome the sight of Tavares wearing an Avalanche sweater more than MacKinnon. Can you say MacKinnon-Tavares? Sounds as sweet as Sakic-Forsberg.
Chambers: The Avs can definitely afford Tavares, but his number could be $10 million or more. Colorado finished 28th in the 31-team league in spending, ending more than $8 million under the salary cap after keeping a handful of AHL guys on the roster in the final weeks of the season. Money won’t be a giant stumbling block. But they might have to buy out one of their expensive forwards in Carl Soderberg ($4.75 million) or Colin Wilson ($3.9 million) to make it happen. And yes, MacKinnon-Tavares does indeed sound like Sakic-Forsberg. MacKinnon isn’t pegged to be a Hall of Famer just yet, but based on this season he’s on the right track.
Kiz: One tenet of the franchise’s glory years, established by Pierre Lacroix and honored to this day: The Avs stick to a salary structure. When the Rangers made a predatory offer on Sakic way back in 1997, it made Lacroix furious. I’m convinced the slow, steady build of this Colorado roster is what caused the nasty break-up of an impatient Patrick Roy and Sakic, an advocate of staying the course. The Avs’ return to the playoffs justified Joe’s super vision. So if he stays away from free agency, I understand and respect his position. But let me add: Tavares! Tavares! Tavares!
Chambers: Mr. Sakic told us Monday that staying the course could still mean they add a piece or two — or even perhaps a huge piece like Tavares? — in free agency or trades. I specifically asked Sakic if he would get involved in the Tavares sweepstakes. He didn’t directly answer the question, but he never said no. Listen, there’s no doubt Tavares would be excited to play with young Tyson Jost or fellow rookies Alex Kerfoot, Vlad Kamanev, A.J. Greer and other up-and-comers. And he’d play with MacKinnon and his line on the power play. On the back end, Tavares might look at Colorado’s blue line and say, “That’s something I can work with” — based on offensive-minded puck-movers Tyson Barrie, Sam Girard and Conor Timmins each paired with a big guy Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov and Patrik Nemeth. Suddenly, that defensive corps looks sharp with Girard beginning his second season and Timmins coming in as the best teenage Canadian blue-liner next to Cale Makar, who will remain at UMass for his sophomore season before joining the Avs the following year.