Avalanche won't make waves in free-agent market

Any Avalanche fan who hopes the team uses much of its considerable salary cap room on a free-agent splurge July 1 will be disappointed. Avs general manager Greg Sherman all but ruled out any pricey forays this summer, preferring to continue a “build from within” blueprint.

“I don’t foresee any shortcuts,” Sherman said, following a meeting of league GMs at a Philadelphia hotel Wednesday. “Our plan is to build around the young, enthusiastic players we have now.”

The Avs have 14 likely roster players for next season signed at a cap-average payroll of about $30.2 million. With the NHL salary cap expected to rise about $2 million from its current $56.7 million, that leaves a lot of potential room for other possible signings — and players such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Marleau figure to be available.

But partly because the Avs’ current payroll is on the lower side, and because of the team’s average age (26), the organization doesn’t want to blow a lot of money on risky, older free agents and maybe get stuck with little cap room when the younger players come due for new deals in a couple of years.

“We do want to build from within,” Sherman said. “When you look at the young players we have, some we have coming in and some of the restricted free agents we have, we want to stay with the plan in place.”

That doesn’t mean Sherman will be taking July 1 off, when the free-agent period starts.

“That’s fair. It’s part of my job to examine everything that might help make us a better club. That’s part of the process,” he said.

Sherman reaffirmed the team’s recently declared plan to sit down with former player Joe Sakic soon and discuss a possible management role.


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