The Colorado Avalanche were one of the final teams with an arbitration hearing on the books, due to meet in Toronto on Saturday with defenseman Patrik Nemeth. That won’t be necessary now, as the team has signed Nemeth to a one-year $2.5MM contract. Nemeth will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the contract. GM Joe Sakic released a statement about his newest signing:
Patrik is a big, physical defenseman who is an important piece of our D-corps. He plays a significant role on our penalty kill, he blocks shots, and we’re happy to have him back this season.
Nemeth came to the Avalanche last October when the Dallas Stars placed him on waivers just before the season began, and became a key part of the Colorado defense. In 68 games he was finally given a reasonable opportunity to show what he could do at the NHL level, logging more than 19 minutes a night and anchoring a penalty kill unit. Though Nemeth doesn’t have a ton of offensive upside, he still recorded 15 points for the Avalanche and easily led the club with a +27 rating. He was also first on the team in blocked shots with 185, which put him fifth in the entire NHL.
Even with the surprise performance in 2017-18, there’s no guarantee that Nemeth has a long future in Colorado. With Erik Johnson still under contract for the next five years, Ian Cole signed to a new three-year deal, and Samuel Girard just starting out what looks to be a very promising career there aren’t going to be that many spots on the blue line going forward. Those spots may end up going to other young players like Cale Makar and Conor Timmins before long, and there is always still a chance that Nikita Zadorov reaches his full potential and demands more than 20 minutes a night as a shutdown option. For Nemeth—and even Tyson Barrie, who has two years left on his current deal—there may not be a lot of opportunity in Colorado.
That said, a one-year $2.5MM contract gives Nemeth the chance to prove he deserves a long-term deal. Whether that deal comes with Colorado or someone else on the open market, another solid penalty killing performance this season could make him an intriguing option. Still young enough to contribute for several years, and likely still demanding a reasonable price, Nemeth could be a solid third-pairing addition to many clubs around the league. That hinges on his 2018-19, meaning he’ll have to continue to work hard and prove he is a reliable NHL defenseman.