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Busy Few Days

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
In the past week, the Colorado Avalanche has made a number of roster moves which should aid in the club’s continued quest to remain amongst the top teams in the Western Conference. By July 2nd, Colorado had supplemented its lineup with a considerable amount of grit, solidified its blue line, added a netminder to the mix and re-signed one of its promising young forwards.

The organization got an early jump on the market by re-signing defensemen Adam Foote and John-Michael Liles before the unrestricted free agency period officially opened. The pair –considered among the top free agent defensemen in this year’s crop –inked new contracts on June 30.

Both blueliners were pleased to agree to their new deals early and remain in burgundy and blue, a sentiment that Foote expressed shortly after his signing.

“I wanted to finish as an Av,” said Foote after signing a two-year contract to return to Colorado. “As corny as it may sound, I believe the Avalanche is in my blood and I wanted to be there.”

Darcy Tucker brings an element of grit and a scoring touch to Colorado, having totaled 91 goals over the past four seasons
But Avalanche Executive Vice President & General Manager Francois Giguere was nowhere near finished adding pieces to the puzzle. After shoring up Colorado’s defensive unit, Giguere landed a pair of hard-nosed forwards in Darcy Tucker (formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs) and Swedish agitator Per Ledin.

The signing of Tucker to a two-year pact brings a physical presence to the lineup, along with a proven scoring touch. The 12-year NHL veteran has reached the 20-goal mark six times in his career, including three of the last four seasons. Tucker has also been a fan favorite throughout his career due to his fiery nature on the ice, something sure to bode well with the home crowd at Pepsi Center. 

“Darcy Tucker gives us scoring ability and a physical presence up front,” said Giguere. “He’s a fierce competitor. We like the combination of qualities he will bring to our roster.”

Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Ledin has spent the majority of his professional career in Sweden and represented his home country at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. The forward played the 2007-08 season with HV 71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Elite League, finishing third on the team in penalty minutes (137), fifth in goals (16) and sixth in points (33).

Factor in Scott Parker, who signed a one-year deal on June 24 after finishing third on the team in penalty minutes (70) last season, and the Avalanche should have no shortage of grit in its lineup.

Andrew Raycroft was added to the Avalanche's goaltending mix
The organization also added depth between the pipes by signing former Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Andrew Raycroft.

The 28-year-old was the recipient of the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 2003-04 after posting a 29-18-9 mark in 57 games with the Bruins. That season, he also finished sixth in the league in goals-against average (2.05) and fifth in save percentage (.926).

Overall the Belleville, Ontario, native has posted an 82-80-26 mark with a 2.87 goals-against average since making his NHL debut with Boston during the 2000-01 season.

Acquiring a goaltender such as Raycroft – who has experienced success in the past – goes a long way toward solidifying Colorado’s goaltending situation.

Giguere and the Avalanche then brought back another key asset by inking 22-year old Wojtek Wolski to a two-year contact on Wednesday. Last season, Wolski finished as the club’s fourth leading scorer with 48 points (18g/30a) and shared the team lead with six game-winning goals, while his 30 assists ranked third among Avalanche skaters.

“Wojtek is definitely part of the elite young group of players establishing themselves in the league. Therefore, we feel very strongly that he is important to the future success of our club,” said Giguere.

Although there is still work to be done, the Avalanche is no doubt on path to meet the organization’s yearly goal – to ice a competitive and exciting team, something they have done every year since their arrival in Denver.

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