The free-spending days of the Colorado Avalanche are long gone, but general manager Greg Sherman still managed to improve his young club Sunday without breaking the bank.
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 49 | PTS: 67
SOG: 167 | +/-: -8
"What we accomplished today we feel really strongly about," he said. "We certainly fulfilled some needs that we had. We'll continue to evaluate our roster, looking to now and in the future."
Sherman wanted to add a top-six forward and he did so by signing right wing PA Parenteau to a four-year, $16 million contract. Parenteau, 29, had 18 goals, 49 assists and 89 penalty minutes in 80 games last season with the New York Islanders. His 67 points were a career high, and he totaled 38 goals and 82 assists the past two seasons while getting plenty of ice time with Islanders star center John Tavares.
"He's a dynamic player with skill and he certainly complements our young centermen," Sherman said. "I think that was something that was certainly appealing to him. After speaking with him, I know that he's excited to join this organization and he's excited to be a part of this hockey club."
A late bloomer, Parenteau played just 27 NHL games in his first seven seasons after turning pro in 2003 – five with the Chicago Blackhawks and 22 with the New York Rangers – before signing with the Islanders as a free agent two years ago.
"No doubt he brings skill to the table in a position that we were looking to target, to try and fill a need that we had internally," Sherman said. "At his age, too, I think when you look at a guy 29 years of age and having had consistent back-to-back seasons, we believed it was the right fit for us."
Sherman said it would be up to coach Joe Sacco to decide where to use Parenteau, but the Avalanche is deep down the middle with young centers Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, a restricted free agent who posted career highs last season for goals (18) and points (55).
2012 FREE AGENCY
Free agency previews (by division)
With free agency opening Sunday at noon ET, NHL.com takes a look at the needs of all 30 teams -- division by division -- as well as the Top 10 free agents in each division:
"(Parenteau) is definitely a player that we foresee helping us out on the power play," Sherman said. "Clearly we see him in an area where he can contribute offensively in a top-six role. What's for sure is that we feel very strongly about the depth that we have at center as does P.A. That's why we think it's a good fit for both sides."
The Avalanche also signed defenseman Greg Zanon from the Boston Bruins and center John Mitchell from the Rangers. Zanon, 32, was given a two-year, $4.5 million contract. Mitchell, 27, signed a two-year, $2.2 million deal.
A seven-year NHL veteran, Zanon had three goals, five assists, 18 penalty minutes and a plus-3 plus/minus rating in 56 games last season with Minnesota and Boston. He had one assist in seven playoff games with the Bruins.
"At 32, he's one of the older guys that will be in our locker room, so he brings experience," Sherman said. "You can never have enough depth on defense."
Mitchell is a four-year NHL veteran who likely replaces Jay McClement, who left as an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mitchell had five goals, 11 assists and a plus-10 plus/minus rating in 63 games last season, with one assist in 18 playoff games. Mitchell won 53.5 percent of his faceoffs and at 6-feet-1, 204 pounds adds some size up front.
"He brings size, he can skate and he's very strong in the faceoff circle," Sherman said. "(The Rangers) had a real strong playoff performance, so he got the experience of what it's like to play in the postseason. He gives us more depth at the center position and the other thing is his versatility; he can play on the wings."
Sherman said he had discussions with the agents for high-profile free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but it's probably safe to say their respective asking prices were too rich for an Avalanche organization that is a lot more fiscally conservative than it used to be.
"Clearly there are many, many teams interested in these two players," he said.
Aside from O'Reilly, the Avalanche still negotiating with two other of their restricted free agents – defenseman Erik Johnson and left wing Jamie McGinn.