With free agency mere moments away from getting started, the Avalanche and newly appointed general manager Chris MacFarland have re-signed two of their pending unrestricted free agents.

Veteran defenseman Josh Manson and longtime NHL forward Darren Helm both will remain, bringing back two key pieces from the Stanley Cup run. This comes just days after locking up top winger Valeri Nichushking to an eight-year deal worth $49 million.

Manson, 31, signs a four-year, $18 million deal according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. Manson’s AAV of $4.5 million is a minor raise from the $4.1 million he made on his previous four-year contract.

“Josh was a huge addition to our back end down the stretch and into the playoffs,” MacFarland said. “He played big minutes on our second pairing throughout the postseason, providing a tough, steady presence in the defensive zone while also contributing on the offensive end with some key goals. Getting him under contract for the next four years helps further solidify our blue line.”

Helm signed a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. The 35-year-old got the same deal linemate Andrew Cogliano signed a week ago, keeping the pair of veterans on Colorado’s fourth line for one more season.

Manson was acquired at the trade deadline by the Avs in exchange for prospect defenseman Drew Helleson and a second-round pick. The expectation was for Manson to simply be a deadline rental but the blueliner expressed interest in returning at the conclusion of the season.

Manson had three goals and eight points in 20 playoff games, scoring an overtime winner in the second round and a crucial goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Helm signed with Colorado after spending the first 14 years of his career with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a consistent piece of the Avs’ fourth line throughout the regular season but, according to coach Jared Bednar, made the most improvements in the postseason.

Helm assumed the role of fourth-line center in the playoffs, something he rarely played in the regular season.

Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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