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Avalanche Wolski Skates in Denver

The Wolski trade reminds me a lot of the Alex Tanguay deal.  With Tanguay's contract up, he was poised to make around $5M (through arbitration), starting in 2007-08.  The Avs felt (rightly, history proves) that Tanguay wasn't worth that and so they sent him to Calgary for Jordan Leopold and two 2nd round picks (Codey Burki and Trevor Cann).  Tanguay signed a 3 yr / $5+M deal that also included a no-trade clause.

Unfortunately, the return Colorado got for Tanguay didn't work out well - Leopold was on IR more than he was on the ice and Burki and Cann have never seen an NHL game action, but that doesn't change that the idea that "we shouldn't overpay for Tangs and instead trade him" was a justified one.

With the NHL's arbitration process, Wolski is due to make around $4M next season (he is making $3M this season). That's too much for a guy who only had 9 points / 2 goals over your last 20 games playing every night on your top line.

1. If you don't believe Wolski is worth $4M, then you shouldn't pay him that. That's just common sense.  In the salary cap NHL, you have to be smart with your money - decisions you make today and kill you in a year or two.  (Just ask Edmonton.)

2. There are very significant RFAs who are due for significant raises during the 2010 off season:

  • Kyle Quincey ($550K)
  • Chris Stewart ($850K)
  • Brandon Yip ($575K)
We would be fools to believe that Quincey / Stewart / Yip's agents won't be working their hardest to make sure these guys get as much as possible.  That means these guys aren't going to sign a contract until they see if any rival GMs are able to put in a qualifying offer for their rights. If you're a rival GM, you'd have to look hard offering these guys a deal, especially Stewart, - even with the high price that would come back to the Avs in the form high draft picks.  The Avs will either need to pay these guys or let them go to another team and hope they draft well.  Less risky to keep the proven NHLers on your team (especially when you're not selling tickets.)

On top of that Duchene, O'Reilly, Galiardi, Anderson, Cumiskey, Wilson and Jones are also are currently underpaid and their contracts will have to be addressed in the next couple of years.

3. There are still plenty of top six forwards on this team.  I count 7 forwards (Stastny, Stewart, Hejduk, Duchene, Galiardi, Jones, Yip) that can / have all played effectively in a top 6 forward situation.  You certainly hope that Mueller figures it out - he is also talented enough to play on one of the top two lines.

The bottom line is that $4M for the enigma that is Wolski is far from safe money and with so many players that will justifiably need a raise who are much safer bets - Wojtek had to be moved.