As the mania from the Stanley Cup Finals recedes and Alexander Ovechkin continues on the world’s greatest celebratory bender, the focus of the hockey calendar starts to shift to awards season, the NHL draft and, on July 1, the start of free agency.

The Colorado Avalanche has some players who could hit the open market, and so let’s give an update on where things stand, for players such as potential unrestricted free agents Jonathan Bernier and Blake Comeau. As of Monday, my sources paint the following scenarios for the two players:

I’ve come to learn that there is interest from the Avalanche in re-signing Bernier. While neither the team nor Bernier’s agent, Pat Brisson, would comment directly, my sources tell me there have been discussions between the two on a new contract for the veteran goalie.

That’s significant, because very often in Avs history, when a player gets this close to July 1 and is a UFA, they’ve flown the coop. That the Avs are at least exploring a possible new deal with Bernier’s agent is notable.

Bernier, who turns 30 Aug. 7, earned $2.75 million last season with Colorado, posting a 19-13-3 record with a .913 saves percentage. While most teams have their No. 1 goalies for next season seemingly already set, teams such as Buffalo and the New York Islanders could be in the market for a new one.

Bernier wants to be a No. 1, but if he returned to the Avalanche, that designation would likely go to Semyon Varlamov – at least at the start of the season. Bernier likely would play 25-30 games, though, and quite possibly more, either from some hot play of the kind he had last January in winning 10 games in a row, or another injury to Varlamov. Varlamov also has just one year left on his contract. Could the Avs coax Bernier to re-sign with the prospect of being a No. 1 after next season?

Possibly, but money and term figure to be big factors whether he re-signs or not. The Avalanche has organizational depth problems in goal, with Spencer Martin not having developed into an NHL netminder yet, and unproven Pavel Francouz, signed recently from the KHL, the only current realistically viable candidate as a No. 2 behind Varlamov.

Bernier was popular in the dressing room as a steadying, veteran voice and was on his way to possibly the best season of his career before injuries struck later in the year. So, it makes sense for the Avs to attempt to re-sign him.

As for Blake Comeau: there have been no discussions toward a new deal for him. It seems likely that Comeau won’t be back. At 32 and a potential UFA, Comeau might not fit in anymore with the Avs’ plans. Sakic, in fact, said the team could “get even younger” this off-season, and Comeau is the second-oldest player on the current roster, behind Carl Soderberg.

Defenseman Patrik Nemeth can be a restricted free agent July 1, and there have been talks between the Avs and his agent – former Av Claude Lemieux. It’s highly likely Nemeth will get a new deal with the Avs.

Matt Nieto, Nail Yakupov, Duncan Siemens and Martin are the Avs’ other potential restricted free agents. Of the four, Nieto seems the likeliest to return.

What do you think, Avs fan: Should Bernier be re-signed, or no? The floor is yours.

Adrian Dater
Author

Adrian Dater, was born in Vermont and lived as a tot in New York City before living most of his first 25 years in New Hampshire. Education:  Went to Keene State College and received a degree in journalism in 1988. I wrote sports for the college paper, called "The Equinox." Career: After a two-year stint out of college working as a proofreader and part--time sports writer for The Concord Monitor (N.H)., I moved to Denver in May of 1991, with no job, no connections and no car, but a lot of hope. After doing some odd jobs (including working as a bill collector for a trash company), I found some odd writing jobs for local periodicals and then latched on with The Denver Post in December of 1991 as a score-taker for the high-school sports department. That led to more writing jobs, such as covering DU hockey, lots of high-school coverage and various minor-pro sports. In March of 1995, I got a scoop that would change my life: I broke the story of the Quebec Nordiques moving to Denver to become the Avalanche, and for the next 19 years I covered the team every day. In 2015, I became the lead NHL national columnist with Bleacher Report, where I worked until 2017 before joining BSN Denver. I have also been a main hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Hockey News, The Sporting News, Hockey Digest, Versus.com and have written seven books on sports, including the 2006 best-selling "Blood Feud", a book about the famous Avs-Red Wings rivalry. Most memorable sports moment: As a fan, when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. Also, when the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 1984 NBA Finals. The finest sports book I’ve ever read: It would probably be a book called "Game Misconduct", by Russ Conway. It's the story of how a small-town sports reporter (Conway) in Massachusetts exposed the corruption and brought down one of the most powerful figures in the NHL at the time, Alan Eagleson. The book is a primer on how to report and investigate powerful entities. One sports movie that I can’t live without: I loved "Rocky III", and I loved a 1977 basketball movie starring Robby Benson called "One on One." And, of course, "Slap Shot." Most memorable experience as a reporter: I've gotten to interview some of my boyhood heroes, including Larry Bird, Fred Lynn and Luis Tiant. But probably the most memorable of them all was writing the story of Ray Bourque's one and only Stanley Cup in his 22 years, his final game as a pro with the Avs in 2001. The sport that started it all: As a guy who eventually grew to become 6-foot-6, I could hoop it up some. I was the starting center on my high-school team that made the N.H. state semifinals in 1983. While I never played competitive hockey, I played a lot on the many frozen ponds of New Hampshire and had a pretty good slap shot.