The Colorado Avalanche have one of the worst salary cap situations in the NHL. They are over the cap by $1.3 million for next season with just ten forwards, seven defense, and two goaltenders under contract. They have $8.1 million on long-term injured reserve, which they'll have to free up if captain Gabriel Landeskog is ready to return next season. Their salary cap issues leave them little room to make a trade to improve their team, explaining why the Avalanche went out and made moves in free agency, like signing Erik Brannstrom to a $900,000 contract. The Avalanche have limited options to target in a trade, but they'll need to be active this offseason to keep pace with the rest of the Western Conference.

The Avalanche were a popular pick to bow out in the first round to the Winnipeg Jets, despite MVP Nathan MacKinnon on their team. The Jets had a big advantage over the Avalanche in the goaltending department, which is still an issue Colorado needs to address. However, after a disappointing start to the series for Alexandar Georgiev, he managed to outduel Connor Hellebuyck and advance to the second round. It was the end of the run for Colorado, as they fell to Dallas in the second round.

The Avalanche knows the needs they must address in the offseason, but their lack of salary cap space will make it difficult. Luckily for the Avalanche, some trade targets will come at a bargain if they can make the deals work. The problem is that the Avalanche doesn't have a lot of trade capital.

Yaroslav Askarov is a bargain goaltender

Nashville Predators goaltender Yaroslav Askarov (30) on the ice against the Washington Capitals during the first period at Capital One Arena
© Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Alexandar Georgiev is in the last year of a three-year deal, netting him $3.4 million annually. The Avalanche must feel they need better goaltending next season after a disappointing 2023-24. Georgiev played in 63 games for the Avalanche last season, recording a 3.02 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage.

Georgiev can give the Avalanche some good games, but the question is whether he can win them a Stanley Cup. Yaroslav Askarov may not be able to win them the Cup right away, either. However, Askarov is in the last year of a $925,000 cap hit. The cap savings on Georgiev would allow the Avalanche to improve their forward depth if they could trade him in a corresponding move.

There's no reason to believe that Askarov couldn't give the Avalanche the same level of production that Georgiev has put forward. Askarov didn't have a great NHL debut in the 2022-23 season when he got lit up in one appearance, but it seems like he learned from his mistakes in 2023-24.

The Predators called Askarov up for two games last season, and he posted a 1.47 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. In the AHL with Milwaukee, he had a 2.39 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage in 44 appearances. It was the second consecutive season that he had a .911 save percentage in the AHL.

The prospect of pairing Askarov with Justus Annunen, who is just 24, is a scary proposition for a Stanley Cup-contending team. However, with both goalies under $1 million this season, the value is enough to hope you'd get the same production level as 2023-24.

Does the Avalanche have the pieces for Rutger McGroarty?

Rutger McGroarty is looking for a trade from the Winnipeg Jets, and every team is likely interested in seeing what it'd take to get him. The Avalanche could use a player like McGroarty, who is still in college at the University of Michigan. McGroarty is ready to come out of college with any team other than Winnipeg, and Colorado would be a great fit.

McGroarty would also be a valuable piece for Colorado thanks to the three-year entry-level contract he will sign. The Avalanche can target McGroarty in a trade at barely any cost to their cap situation. They are $1.3 million over the cap at the time of this writing, so some trimming will need to happen before the season starts.

McGroarty could be the missing piece to the offense that the Avalanche have been missing without Gabriel Landeskog. He had 52 points in 36 games for Michigan last season and led the USA to World Junior gold as captain.

The Avalanche lack depth in their prospect pool, so the additions of Askarov and McGroarty would set them up for the future. The positive of these deals is that they will also help the Avalanche currently. Both players are ready to start performing at the NHL level, but their respective teams have no interest in getting them on the NHL roster. A fresh start in the Rockies could be what these players need.