The Colorado Avalanche like to do things a bit differently. As we've talked about previously here at Puck Drunk Love, the Avs prefer to handle negotiating contracts during the summer, after the regular season is in the books. This unique style prevents any unnecessary distractions during the regular season but it also forces added pressure and uncertainty as players wait to find out what their future holds.
As soon as their year ended the Avs started working on figuring out which players would be back for 2012-13. One of the biggest questions, Milan Hejduk, was answered when the club announced they had signed the veteran to a new one-year deal.
David Jones was the next man on their list, signing a 4-year, $16 million contract. Shortly after the news on Jones surfaced, the Avalanche came to terms with Matt Hunwick on a 2-year deal.
Colorado's strategy is a unique one but one you might expect from general manager Greg Sherman. Sherman has been at the heart of several controversial trades that have drawn the ire of not only fans of the Avalanche but from the hockey community as a whole. With that thought in mind, it's really no wonder that the mostly simple process of negotiating with players has a dramatic element in Colorado.
Following the 2011-12 season the Avalanche had just eight players under contract for 2012-13. Two of these eight players were goaltenders. Now, as the summer heat intensifies, the Avalanche are slowly making their way through their list of players that need to be addressed.
The Avalanche have answered the questions about veteran Milan Hejduk and recently addressed the situation surrounding the mostly underrated David Jones. An article over at Yahoo! Sports mentioned that Jones was stressing his situation a great deal knowing that he has a child on the way and an uncertain future ahead of him.
Though the Avs have made some progress in sorting through their contracts, some of the biggest players have yet to be addressed. Matt Duchene, Jamie McGinn, Steve Downie, Ryan O'Reilly and Erik Johnson are all set to be restricted free agents. It's safe to assume the Avs will likely try to bring back a large portion of players left on their list but they likely are causing some negativity with a few of these players by how the team is electing to handle the process. Players want to know what their future holds. They want to be rewarded for their hard work. If they aren't going to be brought back they want to know so they can start planning for their future ahead.
By sitting back and waiting the Avalanche may save themselves some money by avoiding giving a contract to a player in the middle of the year that may ultimately suffer a serious injury. At the same time, the Avs are pressing their luck by asking their young players to sit in limbo while their future remains undecided. In addition, they are likely limiting which players will want to sign in Colorado now that everyone is aware of how the free agency process works with the Avalanche.
Will this strategy force Colorado to part ways with one, or more, of their young stars? We'll have to wait and see.
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