Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic held a season-ending news conference Tuesday, less than a week after his team lost Game 7 of a Western Conference semifinal playoff series to the San Jose Sharks. Sakic touched on the following subjects:
— Star center Nathan MacKinnon will not require shoulder surgery after suffering the injury early in Game 7. “Just rest,” Sakic said.
— The Avs would prefer to re-sign star right winger Mikko Rantanen, a restricted free agent, to a long-term contract. But the team would accept a short-term deal with restricted free agency at the end of it if the player and his agents prefer that route.
— Sakic anticipates the Avs will use their No. 4 and No. 16 overall picks at next month’s draft in Vancouver, British Columbia, but he will “listen” to offers to trade those picks to move up or down.
— Coach Jared Bednar will be offered a contract extension, but given the club’s 26 expiring player contracts and other pressing needs, Sakic doesn’t regard that as a priority. Bednar completed his third year with the team last week. He originally signed a three-year contract when hired, and was given a one-year extension late last season.
— All player exit interviews have been completed, including that with goalie Semyon Varlamov, whom Sakic expects to test the free-agent market July 1.
— Sakic expects the Avs to be “more aggressive” July 1 in the free agent market, adding, “We already have targeted players in mind if they become available that we’re going to want to talk to about joining our club.”
Sakic spoke in depth about Colorado’s 8-0-2 run to clinch a playoff spot in Game 81 of the 82-game regular season and its 7-5 record in the playoffs, including eliminating the Western Conference No. 1-seed Calgary Flamesin the first round. The Avs made the playoffs for the second consecutive year and made to the second round for the first time since 2008.
“We saw the growth in the last couple years here,” Sakic said. “You see the Pepsi Center, the playoff atmosphere — the atmosphere all year. I think there’s a lot of excitement about this team and we have to keep building and try to get it to the next level.”