In the second part of this latest mailbag series for The Athletic, Avalanche beat reporter Peter Baugh commented on many of the pressing issues surrounding the 2022 Stanley Cup champions over the coming months.
One such question is the future of standout defender Devon Toews, whose team-friendly four-year contract earning him $4.1MM per season expires in 2024. While Colorado will have some extra cap space for the 2023-24 campaign due to Gabriel Landeskog’s injury, Toews is due a gigantic raise that may complicate the long-term financial picture, especially with the trajectory of the salary cap uncertain.
Some would entertain the idea of trading the player behind him on the Avalanche depth chart, Samuel Girard, to create cap space, but Baugh says that’s not likely without an extension for Toews already in place. Given Girard’s cost certainty at a $5MM cap hit through 2027, Baugh even went so far as to suggest Toews being a potential trade candidate himself if an extension appears unlikely to materialize late into next season.
- Baugh also said he believes defender Erik Johnson, the team’s longest-tenured player, is interested in returning to the team next season. The 35-year-old is a pending free agent upon expiration of his seven-year, $6MM cap hit extension signed in 2015 and likely wouldn’t command much above the league minimum on a one-year deal. Johnson registered just eight assists in 63 games last season while again dealing with some injuries.
- Despite a lack of development this season, Baugh doesn’t think the Avalanche have lost faith in young center Alex Newhook. Expected to step into the vacated second-line center spot to begin the season, Newhook quickly slipped back into a bottom-six role and ended his regular season with 30 points in 82 games. While Colorado will likely use their additional cap flexibility this summer to add higher-end depth at center, the organization still needs more out of important young players like Newhook to maintain Cup contention.