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The Avalanche make moves in free agency, just not the splashy variety

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

As the calendar ticked closer and closer to July 1, Avalanche fans got more and more excited about what the team was going to do when the NHL’s free agency period commenced. When things kicked off on Monday, Colorado boasted $38.9 million in salary cap space, the most in the league; so there were expectations that the team would be very active on the open market.

Well, not so much.

After day one of free agency, one word comes to mind when trying to describe what the Avs have done so far – underwhelming. No big stars. No marquee names. No major difference makers.

That said, Colorado did add some decent pieces. Here’s a look at what they’ve done so far:

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The Avalanche started things off by re-signing one of their own, bringing back Colin Wilson for one more season at $2.6 million. In 2018-19, the left winger recorded 12 goals and 15 assists in 65 games playing behind Gabriel Landeskog on Colorado’s second line.

“He played an important role on our second line and power play unit and was one of our better players down the stretch, especially in playoffs,” Joe Sakic said on Monday afternoon when explaining the decision.

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Colorado jumped into free agency when they signed Joonas Donskoi to a four-year contract that averages $3.9 million per season. Donskoi spent the first four years of his career in San Jose, where the right winger improved each year. In 2018-19, he scored a career-high 37 points on 14 goals and 23 assists.

“Joonas is a dependable player who plays 200 feet,” said Sakic on Monday. “(He) brings playoff experience to our lineup.”

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Colorado wrapped up it’s first-day moves by signing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a two-year, $3.6 million contract. The left winger will turn 34 in March, so he certainly brings a veteran presence to a young team. Last year with Vegas, Bellemare scored six goals and posted nine assists in 76 games.

“Pierre-Edouard is a very good defensive forward and penalty-killer,” Sakic explained. “He brings added leadership and a veteran presence.”

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At the moment, the Avalanche still have roughly $30.6 million of salary cap space left for the 2019-20 season. But according to reports, a lot of that money will be used to retain the team’s own restricted free agents, including Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Compher and Nikita Zadorov, among others.

So essentially, Colorado won’t be making any changes to their top lines. They’ll be counting on the continued development of young players, while rotating in new role players.

Will that be enough to keep them in playoff contention next season? Will it allow them to advance further once they get to the postseason?

It’s hard to argue that the Avalanche have added that type of a difference maker, at least so far.