Avalanche Must Trade 1 Of 2 Players By Next Season After Extending Toews

The Colorado Avalanche signed Devon Toews to a seven-year, $7.25 million AAV extension right after the 2023-24 season kicked off. He is in the final year of a four-year, $4.1 million AAV extension signed with the team after he was originally dealt from the New York Islanders. This is a nice raise for the very good defender and a well deserved one. But it creates a bit of a problem the Avalanche will have to deal with by the start of next season.

The Avalanche have one of the top three defensive cores in the NHL along with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins. This doesn't come cheap. Next season, with the Toews contract kicking in, they will be allotting $29.6 million to just five defensemen. Bowen Byram is the cheapest of the bunch signed next season and his cap hit is $3.85 million AAV. He, Cale Makar, and Toews aren't options to move. They are all key pieces to the future. With the Avalanche expected to be a few million over the cap with only 16 players signed, someone making a larger amount of money will have to be moved.

This will likely come down to Josh Manson or Sam Girard. These are two very different types of defensemen. Manson is a shutdown defender who is large and physical. He was acquired ahead of the team's Stanley Cup run and re-signed for four years after that. This is the second year of that deal and after this season, the no-trade clause switches to a modified no-trade clause, making it possible to move him. Right defense are a little harder to come by and his cap hit and contract length is less than Girard's, but some teams might have different needs.

Girard has been a trade option now for over a year with the emergence of Byram. One of Girard or Manson has to play on the third pair and that's very expensive for a Cup contender to use the cap space like that unwisely. While Gabriel Landeskog is out, the cap space is manageable, but next season it won't be. Girard is only 25 years old and is a speedy puck-mover. He's not elite offensively, but can help produce. For a team that is looking more towards the future, Girard has three years left on his contract after this season at $5 million AAV, but for the final three years of his deal, has a modified no-trade clause attached to his contract. It could make things a little more complicated, but not impossible. The Avalanche defense will be just fine without one of them next season.

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