It’s only been seven games with the Colorado Avalanche, but Josh Manson has apparently enjoyed his time there. The long-time Anaheim Ducks defenseman told Peter Baugh of The Athletic today that while he hasn’t really thought about things he can’t control, he would love to be in Colorado in the future.
Manson, 30, is an interesting player to watch this summer when he hits unrestricted free agency ahead of his age-31 season. For a long time, he was considered one of the most valuable shutdown defenders in the league, punishing opponents every night, logging a ton of ice time in difficult minutes, and, as ridiculous as it sounds, being right-handed. For years, Manson’s name was bandied about in trade rumors as a potential fit for a team that needed a stay-at-home complement to one of their puck-moving defensemen.
In the days leading up to this year’s trade deadline, the Ducks had a choice to make on whether to extend Manson or not. After nearly 500 games in an Anaheim sweater, they chose the latter and sold him to the Avalanche for a top prospect and second-round pick. That’s a hefty price for a player that has taken a noticeable step backward in recent years, but the Avalanche already know his limitations–they’ve iced him for fewer than 17 minutes in five of his seven games, and with his heaviest usage (18:41) coming in his debut for Colorado.
Even though he is serving in a depth role though, Manson has to look no further than last year to get a gauge on what his market may look like this summer.
At last year’s deadline, the Tampa Bay Lightning spent a similar asset package to land David Savard, a right-handed, 30-year-old who was a pending free agent and known more for his defensive acumen than his offensive upside. Similarly, Savard took on a depth role on the eventual Stanley Cup champions, and by the time the playoffs rolled around, he was seeing just 14 minutes a night on the bottom pair.
Savard still landed a four-year contract in the summer with the Montreal Canadiens, one that carries him through his age-34 season at a $3.5MM cap hit. Whether Manson wants it (or would “love” it) or not, that kind of a contract doesn’t seem to make much sense for the Avalanche. The team already has Cale Makar and Samuel Girard locked up long-term and still has big contract extensions for some key forwards to think about (not to mention a starting goaltender also scheduled for UFA status).
Like Savard before him, even if Manson ends up playing a relatively small role on the Avalanche in a long playoff run, he should be set up to land a multi-year deal at a mid-range cap hit because of his history. Sure, the deal doesn’t look very good for the Canadiens after their collapse this season, but that may not be enough to scare off the whole league when a similar player and situation presents itself this summer.