DENVER (AP/CBS4) – Times are good right now for the Colorado Avalanche. They lead the NHL in points, just made two key trades for depth to gear up for a playoff run and have one of the deepest and fastest rosters in the league and in team history. But winter is coming.
Next season, an opponent stands in the way more formidable than any the team has faced on the ice as of yet: the league-mandated salary cap.READ MORE: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Preview: TPC Southwind 'Pretty Demanding,' Says CBS Sports' Nick Faldo
General Manager Joe Sakic, in the role since September 2014, knows this better than most. This is why he’s in full “win now” mode.
“This is as deep of team as we’re going to have here,” Sakic said. “We’re going to have to get cheaper starting next year at some of those positions.”
Sakic has major decisions to make on three major contributors to a stacked Avalanche team. Forward and team captain Gabe Landeskog, defenseman and reigning Calder Trophy winner Cale Makar, and goalie Philipp Grubauer are all up for new deals at the end of the season.
It will take nothing short of a Brinks truck to keep everyone together. For now though, Sakic’s mind is on one thing.
“Everybody is focused on trying to win a Stanley Cup here,” Sakic said. “We’ll get to all those guys when we get to them. I don’t really have any information on that. I think we’re just focused on hockey right now.”READ MORE: TPC Southwind Profile: A Stiff Challenge At WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
To get one step closer to that Cup win, something the Avalanche haven’t achieved since the 2000-2001 season, Sakic dove into his pool of draft picks and prospects. He sent a 2022 fourth-round pick to Detroit for defenseman and former Av Patrik Nemeth, and a 2021 fifth-round pick along with defenseman Greg Pateryn to San Jose for backup goalie Devan Dubnyk. He also brought back former Av and fan favorite Carl Soderberg from Chicago for two young forwards, Ryder Rolston and Josh Dickinson, for depth.
Both Nemeth and Soderberg know the “Avalanche Way” and clubhouse chemistry.
“I know how excited they are to come back,” Sakic said. “Our dressing room is excited, the guys are excited to have them back. They both fill the needs that we wanted to get accomplished.”
Sakic moved on Dubnyk knowing that primary backup Pavel Francouz won’t be available at all this season due to an undisclosed injury. He also acquired Jonas Johansson from Buffalo. Goalie depth was perhaps the Avs chief Achilles heel in the playoffs last season.
“We believe in the players we have,” Sakic said. “Their expectations are to win and our one goal is to win the Stanley Cup. I know we’re not the only team with that same goal. A lot of quality teams here, and a lot of teams think they’re in a good position to make a run at this thing. We’re the same.”MORE NEWS: Broncos' Legend Terrell Davis On Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock QB Battle: 'Normally The Veteran Who Is Stable Tends To Win'
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)