Avalanche Add Former First Round Pick To Their Defense

Colorado Hockey Now

When the list of unqualified restricted free agents came out, I had one name I was eyeing for the Colorado Avalanche. On Tuesday, we learned that the front office reads Colorado Hockey Now.

Okay, maybe not.

Erik Brannstrom, once selected 15th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights back in 2017, is headed to the Avalanche on a one-year deal that will cost them $900k, according to Elliotte Friedman. He’ll now join the competition on the bottom pair for ice-time that includes Sam Malinski, Calle Rosen, and Jacob MacDonald. I would guess the latter two are headed to the Colorado Eagles, but we’ll find out more when training camp starts. Brannstrom is a left shot, but has also played the right side in the past with Ottawa.

Obviously, I’m a big fan of this move. Brannstrom is far from perfect, but he’s a great reclamation project to take on. His underlying #’s are strong, but he is prone to the big mistake and is not exactly going to bring a physical element to the lineup. He’s a strong puck-mover and will help the Avalanche transition from defense to offense. As I always do with all the new additions, I’ll dig in with a film room on him later this summer.

The 24 year old defenseman was due a $2 million qualifying offer from the Senators, which is why they decided to move on. Colorado now gets him for less than half of that and Brannstrom gets a chance to try things out in a system he will likely be a good fit in. He picked up 20 points in 76 games last year for Ottawa, and averaged over 16 minutes a night.

Brannstrom is the second player the Avalanche have signed this summer who spent last year with the Ottawa Senators. Parker Kelly, who will likely be a depth forward for the team, was signed yesterday to a two-year deal.

While the defense isn’t perfect, they do seem to be a little deeper going into next season. Not that much deeper, and there isn’t a Sean Walker or Bowen Byram on that third pair, but they’re now looking “OK” in those 5-9 spots. I’m not sure I’d want any of those guys stepping into the top four in case of an injury, though. One thing they certainly aren’t is bigger, and that’ll be something teams might try to take advantage of.

We’ll see what additional moves the Avalanche have in store this summer. If anything else happens, we’ll have it for you.

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