If Colorado Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who will be 37 years old by the time next hockey season starts, is not willing to waive his No-Move Clause ahead of the June 18 expansion draft, the best course of action for general manager Joe Sakic is to buy him out—even though that means eating his entire 2017-18 salary.
Signing the veteran was somewhat of a head-scratcher from day one for the Avs. In the two seasons since he came to Denver, the aging blueliner’s play fell off a cliff while the Avalanche changed coaches and philosophies.
Sakic’s biggest reason to have reservations about making this move is that the Avalanche will be on the hook for the entirety of Beauchemin’s $4.5 million salary next year – whether he is on the roster or not. This figure will also count against their salary cap number.
So if they have to pay him, why not just keep him around for his experience and leadership characteristics?
The rules of the impending expansion draft make it impossible to keep Beauchemin while also protecting promising young assets from being poached by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. Due to his NMC, the Avs will be forced to make him one of their protected skaters if he is still around.
If the Avalanche elect to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie without buying out Beauchemin, they will have to choose between exposing either Tyson Barrie or restricted free agent Nikita Zadorov. Exposing either of these players just to drag Beauchimen around the league for another season would be a devastating mistake for a club already in turmoil.
Sakic can protect Barrie and Zadorov if the club elects to protect just eight skaters (forward or defense) and a goalie instead, but then they only get to protect four forwards. Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon are the obvious first three selections. That leaves one protected spot for Mikhail Grigorenko, Sven Andrighetto, Matt Nieto, or Blake Comeau.
No matter how you break it down, it simply does not make sense to expose any of an already struggling team’s valuable assets just to keep a player that doesn’t fit your system anyway.
Beauchemin was signed in the Patrick Roy era. He is a square peg in a round hole playing in current head coach Jared Bednar’s system. Worse than that, he is a shadow of the player the Avs signed to a $13.5 million deal in 2015. His blocked shots fell off drastically, his offensive output dried up, and he posted a career worst minus-14 rating last season.
Of course, the veteran was also being overtasked on a depleted Avalanche team. If Beauchimen were to waive his NMC, he could still hold some value as a third-pairing, depth defenseman. If not, the Avalanche will be better off without him.