25 May 2010
Courtesy of Adrian Dater, Adam Foote has signed a one year deal with the Avs for $1M, with another $1M or so in incentives possible.
Frankly I'm not sure how I feel about this move by the Avs.
On the one hand, Footer is a Colorado legend, and a sure fire bet to have his number hanging from the rafters when he does finally call it quits. He played alright this season, even though he has clearly lost a step or two (and speed was never his forté to begin with). He is also one of the few defensive defensemen on the Avs roster, with Wilson and Hannan being the only other two who would qualify for that title. Also as captain, and one of the few graybeards on the team, he provides valuable leadership to a team that probably is a little too green to get it from their talented core. He didn't play terrible last season and a deal worth $1-2M is probably a fair deal for Foote's current level of play.
That said, by signing Foote the Avs now have essentially the same defense that they had last season, sans Brett Clark (and Ruslan Salei, who didn't play much at all). And to be perfectly frank, this is a defensive corps that was ok, but not very great. I have a feeling that Anderson covered a lot of warts in the back end. And out of the Avs top 6 (Foote, Hannan, Quincey, Liles, Cumiskey and Wilson) only Wilson and Cumiskey are going to have much of a chance at getting any better. I'm not sure the Avs defense can replicate the success they had last season.
More after the jump
Let's remember, this is a defense that gave up the most shots in the NHL last season. If Anderson has even a sightly worse season next season it could be a disaster if the Avs can't figure out how to defend a little better. Yes the forwards are a big part of that, but last season the Avs were often victimized by their inability to simply clear the puck out of their own zone, and giving up an extra 3-4 shots as a result. The Avs simply have to figure out a way to give up less shots. Sure, the young forwards will get better at keeping possession in the other end, but the defense needs some work too.
Of course signing Foote doesn't preclude the Avs from signing a top notch, or second tier, defenseman. Thanks ridding themselves of ~8M in defensive contracts (see you later Clark, Salei and Foote $3M+ contracts) the Avs can pursue guys like Martin, Volchenkov, Hamhuis or even a guy like Willie Mitchell of they so choose. And having seven NHL caliber defensemen is a necessity these days due to the inevitable injuries that come from an 82 (+)! game season. Especially with the perpetually injury-riddled Avs.
But the Avs also have a glut of talented young defenders who are going to be clawing for a roster spot. Shattenkirk, Cohen and Holøs all could be ready to make the big club, as well as guys like Elliot, Barrie, Chourinard and Gaunce making the roster as well. Will the Avs have to keep one of those guys in the minors to keep trying to work the kinks out of Cumiskey and Wilson's game?
With all those talented blueliners on a couple years away from making the roster, the Avs have some room to try and work a trade in there. Some have speculated Hannan, and if the Avs fall out of playoff contention come February we could see him shipped off, but I suspect they will shop Liles hard at the draft, while also shopping Cumiskey as well.
Overall I think the Foote contract is a good one. The Avs have offensive defensemen, not defensive defensemen, coming down the pipe, and Foote's not getting in their way. Guys like Liles, Cumiskey and possibly Wilson (although he's not offensive) would be the guys keeping those youngsters from playing, not a guy like Foote. Even if they make the roster, you want a guy like Foote there to show them the ropes.