With six defensemen already under contract for the 2015-16 season the Colorado Avalanche are unlikely to re-sign Jan Hejda or Ryan Wilson according to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post.
Both blue liners are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
Hejda had a goal and 12 assists to go along with a minus-12 rating during the 2014-15 season. The 36-year-old made $3.25 million in the final year of his four-year, $13 million deal.
Wilson’s three-year, $6.75 million deal expires next month. The 28-year-old appeared in just three games with the Avalanche in 2014-15 prior to undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in November. Over the past three seasons Wilson has appeared in just 43 games with Colorado and one game with the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.
The future of Stefan Elliott is also uncertain.
Chambers reports the defenseman has fallen out of favor with the Avs.
Elliott is a pending restricted free agent as his one-year, $850,000 deal is set to expire on July 1.
The 24-year-old appeared in five games for the Avs in 2014-15 season registering a minus-2 rating and two penalty minutes. Elliott also appeared in 64 AHL games with the Lake Erie Monsters where he had 19 goals and 40 points to go along with 22 penalty minutes and a minus-9 rating.
A pair of once promising prospects are now sitting on the wire.
Louis Leblanc — the 18th overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft — and Stefan Elliott, Colorado’s second-round choice (49th overall) at that same draft, have been placed on waivers by the Ducks and Avs respectively, per TVA.
Leblanc, 23, arrived in Anaheim this summer after a disappointing stint in Montreal in which he scored just five goals in 50 appearances over the course of three seasons. He famously — or, more accurately, his girlfriend famously — complained about getting cut from the Habs prior to the start of last season; the former Harvard product then welcomed a “fresh start’ after the Ducks acquired him via trade in June.
Elliott, also 23, could be done in Colorado after spending his entire professional career with the organization. Like Leblanc, he appeared in just a handful of games — 58, to be exact — with most of those coming in his rookie campaign. Since then, Elliott’s spent the majority of time with AHL Lake Erie and has been bypassed by a number of defensemen on the depth chart, including fellow ’09 draftee Tyson Barrie.
As for others that hit the waiver wire on Monday:
— St. Louis waived three-time Stanley Cup winner Colin Fraser, just weeks after signing the veteran to a deal. Fraser, 29, signed a two-way contract with the Blues, so this move wasn’t entirely unexpected.
— Dallas waived goalie Jussi Rynnas, meaning the backup gig to Kari Lehtonen will now likely go to Anders Lindback.
— Toronto waived veteran forward Troy Bodie, who had 10 points in 47 games for the Leafs last year.
During the 2011-12 season, Stefan Elliott made a name for himself as a 21-year-old with the Colorado Avalanche.
Elliott had offensive abilities from the blue line (four goals and 13 points in 39 games) and seemingly had upside that left them thinking they might have something special. Two seasons later, and just 19 NHL games since then, like the title of the post says, he’ll be looking to make the leap in 2014-15.
What’s hurt Elliott, now 23, is seeing other young defenseman seizing the opportunity when called up. Tyson Barrie, Ryan Wilson and Nick Holden are looking more like sure things to stay on Colorado’s blue line, and only Barrie is his equal in age. While Wilson and Holden are four years older, the Avs’ lack of defensive strength was part of their undoing last season.
With defensemen being counted on to carry and possess the puck more and more in today’s game, Elliott’s work during his rookie season showed he can do just that. As Behind The Net tabulated, his possession numbers were strong over those 39 games in 2011-12. In 18 games the following year, he was equally effective.
Last season, however, he played just one game for the Avs. While he had a bad possession night, he scored a goal in the final regular-season game of the year.
Colorado weren’t exactly darlings of advanced metrics, but if Elliott is given a bit more of a look, he might stand a chance to produce better than guys like Wilson or defensive-defensemen like Nate Guenin and Jan Hejda. Considering how poor the Avs were on defense, giving Elliott a shot to show he’s worth it might be Patrick Roy’s best move.