May 4, 2014, 1:46 pm
Sampling of pending NHL free agent defensemen Colorado Avalanche might pursue
By Mike Chambers
The Denver Post
Mike Chambers
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Avalanche, free agency, Matt Niskanen, NHL
Paul Stastny

Paul Stastny (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

In Sunday’s paper and online we listed five major things the Avalanche would like to address in the off-season and short blurbs about the current players, plus a column on Paul Stastny. What we didn’t have was a list of potential unrestricted free agents the Avs might be eyeing, particularly at D. So here’s a handful, and you can look at the complete list at, already filtered here. makes a hockey writer’s job easy when it comes to this stuff, and on paper (your screen), Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen is your top pending UFA defenseman based on production (46 points and plus-33 this season), age (27), durability (played in 81-of-82 regular-season games) and big-game experience (49 games in Stanley Cup playoffs). The former Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog from Virginia, Minn., is currently second among NHL playoff defensemen in scoring with eight points (two goals), a point behind Montreal’s P.K. Subban. Niskanen is fourth among Pittsburgh D in playoff ice time (20:17), behind Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang.

Orpik, 33, is also a pending UFA, but Martin and Letang are under contract next season for a combined $13.25 million. No doubt the Pens will try to re-sign Niskanen, but can they afford three D at $5 million plus? Niskanen, currently making $2.3 million, is going to going to get his first massive contract, and it seems likely it will come after he tests the market July 1.

Other pending UFA D the Avs might pursue: Andrej Mesaros, Boston; Raphael Diaz, NYR; Nikita Nikitin, Columbus; Paul Ranger, Toronto; Kyle Quincey, Detroit; Anton Stralman, NYR; Matt Green, Los Angeles. But that’s just a sampling, age 30-under names that strike me, but many other are going to be available, particularly more recognizable names in their 30s such as San Jose’s Dan Boyle, Montreal’s Andrei Markov and Sami Salo of Tampa Bay.

Quincey, the 28-year-old former Av, maintains a home in Denver where he spends the off-season and would undoubtedly consider coming back to Colorado. I mentioned Green because the former North Dakota Fighting Sioux is a 30-year-old warrior who would be an excellent addition to any team. Guys hate to play against him.