Colorado re-signs Mikhail Grigorenko; still has work to do

The Avalanche are down to one restricted free agent now that Grigorenko is taken care of, but it’s the crucial Tyson Barrie. Even with the offensive defenseman in the fold, Colorado needs more help on the back end – and when it comes to possession in general.

The Colorado Avalanche have re-signed center Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million, giving the youngster a nice raise for 2016-17. Though the stat is largely ignored now, it’s worth noting that on a team filled with minus players, Grigorenko was a plus-2. But if the Avs want to make it back to the playoffs, they’re going to need more help than that.

Grigorenko, who can also play on the wing, is coming off is first true NHL campaign, registering 27 points in 74 games. Prior to that, he had split time between the Buffalo Sabres and the AHL or QMJHL. At 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, he definitely has more potential to realize in the NHL, but the Avs need to turn their attention elsewhere now that Grigorenko is locked down for 2016-17.

Priority No. 1 is re-signing offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie. The restricted free agent has long been mentioned in trade rumors and plenty of other NHL teams would love to have him. But Colorado is already poor on the blueline, so the team can’t afford to part with Barrie without getting a blueliner in return.

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And here we are mid-summer, with the Avs yet to make a move that would improve their NHL-worst possession numbers. Unless Patrick Roy believes goalie Semyon Varlamov can steal them a playoff spot, as he did in 2013-14, things will not be pretty again in Denver.

If Grigorenko can produce more offense, it will help. No playoff team in the West scored fewer than the Avs’ 216 goals this past season (Minnesota had 216, but gave up 34 fewer goals against). But the real problems are more structural and have yet to be addressed.