The Colorado Avalanche entered this offseason in pretty great shape. They had hockey's youngest roster, they had no real long-term salary commitments weighing down their flexibility, and there were promises from the front office that the team would commit to their players.
Let's review the past couple of weeks:
Milan Hejduk - One year, $2 million
Cody McLeod - Three years, $3.45 million
David Jones - Four years, $16 million
This is not the spending spree that I had envisioned.
Let's play a game. Name the three current Avalanche players under contract for the 2014-2015 season.
Did you guess Jan Hejda, Cody McLeod, and David Jones?
I don't have a problem with loyalty. In fact, I want to keep players around that actually want to be here (I'm looking at you, Chris Stewart!). Yet there comes a point in a rebuild where your homegrown guys simply aren't good enough to lock down for multiple seasons. I don't consider McLeod or Jones to be part of that list.
Now I'll happily support multi-year deals for Matt Duchene, Erik Johnson, and Ryan O'Reilly. There's enough star-level talent and youth amongst those players to make a safe bet on a long term deal. I'm even fine with another year of Peter Mueller -- if he's healthy, he's a bargain. But I simply cannot support locking up Jones through his age 31 season as part of the greater picture, especially with his injury history.
Let me put it another way: When was the last time you attended an Avalanche game and walked out of Pepsi Center exclaiming, "Wow! Did you see David Jones take over that game?"
I'm struggling to think of a single game in the past two years where Jones was the difference maker.
The Avalanche needed wingers, badly, but there's simply no upside to this contract. Let's just hope the rest of the "offseason spending spree" gives fans a bit more hope for the future.