Avalanche news: MacFarland promoted to GM; Georgiev signs

Avalanche news: MacFarland promoted to GM; Georgiev signs
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While the Colorado Avalanche bask in the (sometimes-boozy?) glow of a Stanley Cup win, they have a lot of work to do this offseason. The Avalanche already started some of that work, essentially swapping Alexandar Georgiev for Darcy Kuemper, and making a change — at least in terms of title — at GM.

MacFarland becomes Avalanche GM; Joe Sakic now president of hockey operations

Not every GM change results from a firing.

Sometimes, a team makes front office changes to avoid losing a prominent front office member to another GM job. There are also cases where an aging GM maybe sees the writing on the wall, but sticks around (Glen Sather and the Rangers are a go-to example).

In the case of the Avalanche, they promoted Chris MacFarland to GM on Monday, while Joe Sakic now holds the title of president of hockey operations.

Both Elliotte Friedman and Peter Baugh indicated that the Avalanche promoted MacFarland to GM at least in part to avoid other teams snatching him up for their positions.

Generally speaking, NHL teams don’t give you a look behind the curtain. So, one can only speculate about how much influence different forces carry.

  • A team might have a robust analytics department, but do they listen to their “good nerds?” You can only speculate. Some of that comes down to actions speaking louder than words. For instance: if Chuck Fletcher takes analytics seriously, his moves revolving around Rasmus Ristolainen would make for a funny way of showing such an interest.
  • Does a GM basically defer to scouts throughout a draft, just in the late rounds, or barely at all? That process isn’t very transparent.
  • Finally, how much influence would an assistant GM have?

[Whoever influenced the Avalanche’s trade strategies, they did some incredible work]

From Baugh’s report, it sounds like Chris MacFarland carried a lot of influence with the Avalanche even before this promotion to GM.

Arguably, you could draw a steady line from the Avalanche’s blossoming from a behind-the-times franchise to an innovative force by noting MacFarland’s ascent in 2015.

Perhaps Joe Sakic’s greatest decision was to listen to MacFarland? Either way, it’s a setup that’s worked wonderfully. It makes sense to try to keep the band together. (It remains to be seen if the decision-making process basically remains the same, or if MacFarland tries anything different as full-fledged Avalanche GM.)

Georgiev gets a contract with the Avalanche

After trading three draft picks (two third-rounders and a fifth) for the rights to negotiate with Alexandar Georgiev, the Avalanche recently signed him. It’s a three-year deal with a reported $3.4 million cap hit.

Honestly, allow some agreement on this seeming a touch steep for the 26-year-old.

Look, there’s very reasonable discussion about private models spitting out more robust information about goalies than public ones. That’s especially relevant with Georgiev, as he’s suffered behind some pretty putrid Rangers defenses at times.

Still, by models such as that of Hockey Viz, Georgiev’s work doesn’t inspire overwhelming confidence. By certain measures, Georgiev may have allowed more goals than he should have in 2021-22.

[Darcy Kuemper headlines the free agent market, but maybe teams would be better off trading for goalies?]

Naturally, the Avalanche likely aim for the best plan of all: to be so overwhelming as a team that any goalie worries wash away.

Either way, it’s not a disastrous amount of money or term, and Georgiev is young. If the Avalanche are right, then they have a worthwhile goalie in the prime of his career at a decent clip for three years.

I can’t help but wonder if their backup Pavel Francouz (32, $2M cap hit for two seasons) may end up being the better value.

MacFarland, Sakic, Avalanche have more work to do

After settling their goalie situation, the Avs still have work to do. On the bright side, Cap Friendly estimates that the Avalanche also have a fairly robust $21.035M in salary cap space.

Pierre LeBrun reports that Andre Burakovsky‘s representatives expect him to hit the free agent market. It’s possible that Nazem Kadri may price himself out of Colorado, too.

However, LeBrun reports that the Avalanche have made some progress with intriguing free agent winger Valeri Nichushkin.

One Avalanche player that won’t be back is Nicolas Aubé-Kubel. The forward will not receive a qualifying offer.

There are other Avalanche UFAs of note, including defenseman Josh Manson. Artturi Lehkonen is also an RFA with salary arbitration rights.

If those situations didn’t keep the Avalanche busy, the team may also sign some key contract extensions. Both Nathan MacKinnon and Bowen Byram could receive extensions as soon as this offseason.

So, MacFarland, Sakic, and the Avalanche already completed key offseason tasks, but they have more on the to-do list as free agent time rapidly approaches on Wednesday.