With several key veterans heading towards unrestricted free agency and a strong roster that’s already one of the top offensive teams in the league, expectations are high in Colorado with the belief that they will look to make a big splash to cement their contender status. As part of his trade bait list released earlier today, TSN’s Chris Johnston reported in a separate segment (video link) that they’ve shown interest in a pair of prominent veterans in Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Flyers center Claude Giroux.
Fleury has had a quiet year with Chicago compared to his Vezina-winning campaign last season but has still managed a respectable .910 SV% and a 2.88 GAA in 34 starts. For context, starter Darcy Kuemper’s numbers are only a little better at a .916 SV% and a 2.54 GAA. Pavel Francouz has been even better in limited action but missed all of last season and most of this one due to injury so some quality insurance between the pipes would make some sense.
As for Giroux, he has continually made it clear that he has not yet decided whether or not he’ll waive his trade protection to facilitate a trade. It’s a decision that seems likely to come close to the March 21st trade deadline but it’s easy to see why the Avs would be interested. He’s on pace for close to 30 goals and 70 points and would make a strong attack much deeper. He’d also be a big boost for them at the faceoff dot as Colorado’s team success rate is only 47.3% while Giroux is one of the league leaders at 60.6% and with greater emphasis placed on situational draws in the postseason, that’s an element that will be of interest to many contenders, not just the Avs.
However, while Colorado may want these players, finding a way to fit them in on the cap will be tricky. They project to have less than $1MM in cap space at the deadline, per CapFriendly while Fleury carries a $7MM AAV and Giroux checks in at $8.25MM. Clearly, the Avalanche would need at least 50% retention on either player if they were to get one of them and would either need to send some sort of salary offset the other way or involve a third team to hold back another 25% of their contract to make the money work. The fact GM Joe Sakic is showing interest in some of the top talents suggests that this is their year to go all-in and if there’s a way to get another top veteran, they’ll find a way to make the money work.