Heading into the NHL's Unrestricted Free Agency period this Friday, the Colorado Avalanche have extended qualifying offers to five of their Restricted Free Agents, including Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie, and former 1st round pick Duncan Siemens.
Unsurprisingly the Avalanche chose to move on from Gabriel Beaupre, Trevor Cheek, Garret Meurs, and Roman Will, all of whom spent significant time with the team's ECHL affiliate in Fort Wayne, and struggled to contribute at the AHL level. Roman Will had already signed with Bili Tygri Liberec in the Czech League earlier this summer, joining Joey Hishon (Jokerit, KHL), Dennis Everberg (Rogle, SHL), Sami Aittokallio (Karpat, Liiga) and Borna Rendulic (Medvescak Zagreb, KHL, Rumored) overseas. Last summer the Avalanche used a Qualifying Offer to retain Sami Aittokallio's rights while he played overseas, but this summer the Avalanche did not elect to keep any of their European departures.
Joe Sakic might not be looking for big name players when NHL Free Agency opens later this week, but with 10 RFA's leaving the organization and he has a busy summer ahead of him rebuilding the San Antonio Rampage roster.
The biggest surprise on the Qualifying Offer front comes from the blueline, where the Avalanche cut ties with Brandon Gormley. Gormley was acquired via trade last summer and spent 26 games with the Avalanche before being demoted to the AHL and struggling. Gormley's departure would signal the end of a prolific and complex trade tree which dates back to the Eric Lindros trade and shaped the Avalanche franchise for over 20 years.
The Avalanche held on to defenseman Duncan Siemens, the 11th overall pick in 2011 and Joe Sakic suggested that he may see a larger opportunity in the NHL this season. Siemens played one NHL game in the 2014-2015 season, but spent all of last year in the AHL.
Players who reject their qualifying offers will remain Restricted Free Agent property of the Avalanche indefinitely while they come to terms on larger contracts. These players, most notably Tyson Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon, can negotiate with all 30 NHL teams on offer sheets beginning tomorrow, Tuesday June 28th.
Below is a full list of the Avalanche's Qualifying Offers calculated courtesy of CapFriendly. Qualified players are shown in bold.
Previous Cap Hit
The Avalanche also announced that they will buyout the final year of defenseman Brad Stuart's contract, a possibility we detailed earlier this month. Because Stuart was signed after the age of 35, his buyout will not come with any form of salary cap relief. The move does, however, save the Avalanche a few million dollars in true salary.