DENVER - The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced Tuesday it has picked up the option on forward Antti Laaksonen's contract for the 2006-07 season and signed defenseman Ossi Vaananen to a one-year deal.
Laaksonen, 32, originally signed with the Avalanche in July of 2004. He enjoyed his finest season as a pro in 05-06, establishing career highs in assists (18) and points (34), while also matching his career-best with 16 goals. He appeared in all but one regular season contest for the Avalanche, just the sixth game he's missed in the last five seasons. A key contributor to the Avalanche penalty kill efforts, Laaksonen recorded 80 takeaways, fifth best in the NHL and two shorthanded goals, tied for the team lead.
Vaananen, 25, played his second season with the Avalanche after being acquired from Phoenix on March 9, 2004. He played in 53 games (356 career NHL games) before suffering a broken leg that sidelined him the remainder of the regular season. At the time of his injury he led the Avalanche in plus-minus with a +10 rating. Vaananen appeared in the final playoff game for the Avalanche this season.
"Both of these players had a strong season and were two of the many reasons why this club was successful in a very competitive division and conference," said Avalanche Executive Vice President and General Manager Francois Giguere. "We look forward to solid performances from both of them again this upcoming year."