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June 30, 2008 6:57 PM

Avalanche: No FA frenzy

Unlike last year, when GM Francois Giguere signed free agents Scott Hannan and Ryan Smyth, he doesn't anticipate getting heavily involved in the NHL's feeding frenzy Tuesday.

"We won't be really, really active like we were last year when we signed two of the top guys," Giguere said Monday. "We've done our homework, we're ready to go, and if there's anything we can do to improve our team at a reasonable price, we'll do it."

Giguere believes he already has signed "two of probably the top five defensemen that were entering free agency" in John-Michael Liles and Adam Foote.

Liles received a four-year, $16.8 million contract that includes a modified no-trade clause. Liles, who made $1.4 million last year, will be paid $3.7 million in 2008-09, $4.125 million in 2009-10, $4.425 million in 2010-11 and $4.55 million in 2011-12.

"I started my career with Colorado," Liles said. "They kind of raised me in the NHL and I definitely couldn't see myself playing anywhere else. You can go to free agency and see what's out there, but I really did not have the desire to do that."

Foote, who turns 37 on July 10, signed a two-year, $6 million deal. Foote made $4.6 million last season on a contract he signed with Columbus after the 2004-05 lockout, but he was willing to take a significant pay cut to stay in Colorado. He'll be paid $2.75 million in the first year and $3.25 million in the second.

Unfortunately, Joe Sakic's future remains unclear, and Giguere said he is willing to wait as long as it takes for the longtime captain to make a decision on whether to return for a 20th NHL season or retire.

"We're going to prepare ourselves to ice the best team possible with the hope that some time in the upcoming weeks or months that he'll decide to come back," Giguere said. "But if he doesn't, we're going to be ready for that eventuality."

Giguere said he last spoke with Sakic three weeks ago and doesn't plan to badger him for an answer.

If Sakic does retire, Giguere said the Avalanche would give third-year winger Wojtek Wolski - he's an unsigned restricted free agent - the opportunity to play center, presumably on the second line behind Paul Stastny.

Giguere expects at least two of the Avalanche's free agents, forward Andrew Brunette and defenseman Kurt Sauer, to sign with other teams. He hasn't been able re-sign goalie Jose Theodore and defenseman Jeff Finger, and they'll also become unrestricted free agents.

"One of the luxuries that we have, I think in Peter Budaj we have a very capable goaltender," Giguere said. "We know that we have an insurance policy that we felt pretty comfortable about. We're not going to overpay, in our mind, to (re-sign Theodore).

"We would like to get another goaltender of quality to come in. I imagine the scenario would be that Peter and another guy would come in, but I would think Peter would be the guy kind of with the reins. But we wouldn't mind if there's a challenge there."

Giguere expressed disappointment in not being able to come to terms with Finger, 28, who played his first full NHL season last year and made the league minimum $475,000.

"If we can't get Jeff done, we'll see what direction we go from there," Giguere said. "It also comes down to does Jose come back or not come back, allocating the dollars, where you're going to put your dollars moving forward."

-- Rick Sadowski



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