Why Tomas Vokoun is likely to become an Avs goalie

If I were walking into a Vegas sports book right now and they had a list of NHL free agents and their likelihood to sign with certain teams, I would probably empty out whatever meager amount was in my wallet and put most or all of it on “Tomas Vokoun to the Avalanche.”

For now, two days before the start of NHL free agency, just call it a hunch. Teams are prohibited from discussing potential unrestricted free agents from other teams, and vice-versa. But does that mean reporters can’t talk to both sides before the start of free agency? No, it doesn’t. And that is a very good thing.

So let’s just say, based on some talking to both sides of the fence lately, I believe there is a very good chance Vokoun will become the next starting goalie of the Avalanche. Does that mean for sure he will? Nope. Something could change, for sure. Maybe the sides will ultimately have a difference on his value, as a goalie who turns 35 on Saturday, who has rarely played for winning teams in his lengthy career now. Maybe another team will jump in with a much better offer than the Avs. Maybe the Avs will change their minds at the last minute, maybe they’ll make a trade for a younger goalie, maybe a lot of things could happen.

But here’s a thumbnail sketch for the reasons why I think Vokoun will be wearing an Avs sweater this season:

He’s not going to re-sign with Florida. Talks between he and the Panthers went nowhere, and Vokoun wants a change in scenery. That’s significant, because there is only one team – according to the brilliant website capgeek.com – that currently has more room under the league’s new $64.3 milliion salary cap ceiling than the Avalanche -and it’s Florida. The Avs currently have a cap-averaged payroll of $29,495,833, with 14 players signed for the coming season and six other restricted free agents qualified to retain their rights. That makes 20 players theoretically under contract, and the Avs need to get to the cap floor of $48.3 millilon (keep in mind, this is the cap AVERAGE number, not the actual amount of cash they need to spend on players for the coming season necessarily. Here’s a good article in the National Post that explains some of the tricks some tight-fisted teams can do to get to the cap floor without actually spending the money).