The Colorado Avalanche continue to rebuild their defense -- an undersized unit last season, and a certain liability -- into a bigger, more physical front. Just days after agreeing to a one year contract with defenseman Ryan Wilson, the Avalanche have agreed to a one year contract with free agent defenseman Shane O`Brien, 27, formerly of the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks.
The contract is valued at $1.1 million.
O' Brien gives another second/third pairing veteran option for the Avalanche who suffered from a lack of defensive depth. The 6'3", 200 pound defenseman adds size and experience, and his signing likely portends another possible move, as O 'Brien plays a similar role to Ryan Wilson and Ryan O' Byrne -- who are both under contract. With Erik Johnson, Kyle Quincey, Jan Hejda, Jonas Holos, and Matt Hunwick already very likely to make the team (and top prospects Cameron Gaunce, Tyson Barrie, and Stefan Elliott close to NHL ready), at least one of these players is unlikely to make the Opening Night roster.
Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey was given a qualifying offer but has not yet reached a contract agreement. With the Avalanche move towards size, he appears likely to start the season in AHL Lake Erie. With the signing, Colorado is within $3 million of the salary floor, and will probably surpass it with a entry level contract to first round selection Gabriel Landeskog.