It appears as though patience has paid off for Evan Rodrigues, who suddenly finds himself in an excellent situation. The free agent forward has signed a one-year, $2MM contract with the Colorado Avalanche, joining the reigning Stanley Cup champions just a few weeks before the season begins.
The Avalanche were one of the deepest forward groups in the lineup by the time the playoffs rolled around, but have watched the likes of Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, Nico Sturm, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel all depart in free agency. While the team is driven by an outstanding group of defensemen and a handful of star forwards, it was that depth that made them so difficult to play against, as they iced four lines that could compete.
Rodrigues, 29, comes in at a relative discount after scoring 43 points last season and can help lengthen out that lineup again this season. The versatile forward can play center or wing, and while he likely can’t replace the offense that Kadri brought, he does enter a situation that may see him continue his breakout.
Last season the undrafted forward scored 19 goals while playing in all 82 games for the first time in his career, and while he did play a good chunk of his even-strength minutes with Sidney Crosby, that’s actually not where his production came from. In fact, Rodrigues didn’t score a single goal during the 318 5v5 minutes he played alongside the Penguins’ captain, instead doing much better with the likes of Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.
If he can continue to play that type of strong secondary scoring presence while a little further down the Colorado lineup, the Avalanche will continue to have that impressive depth that took them so far. It should be noted, however, that Rodrigues’ previous career-high was nine goals and 29 points – likely why teams weren’t willing to offer him a long-term contract this summer.