They say that defense wins championships. Without an adequate defense, it’s hard to even make the playoffs. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche.

Last season, poor defensive zone play proved to be the Achilles heel of the Avalanche. General manager Joe Sakic made it very clear that addressing the blueline is a top priority for the team this offseason.

That being said, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Avalanche will address the position through free agency. The Avalanche have five defensemen on one-way contracts (though Brad Stuart’s career is likely over). Another two (Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov) are on two-ways, but Sakic stated he expects both to be on the team next season). Finally, Tyson Barrie is a restricted free agent, who will almost certainly be retained if he is not traded (a trade that would likely see a defenseman come back to Colorado). So, barring a trade, the Avalanche have a minimum of six and up to eight spots on their blueline spoken for.

That doesn’t mean that they will not be active, as the team has been known to stash one-way contracts in the minors. The Avalanche also like to carry eight defensemen on their roster, meaning that adding at least one is likely; just don’t expect them to completely reshape their blueline in free agency.

In theory, the Avalanche could use help on both the left and right side. On the left, François Beauchemin is the only proven performer capable of playing in their top-four; though they do have several young players with potential. Any major addition on the right side is likely tied to the status of Tyson Barrie. If he is retained, then they may only be in the market for a depth player.

This year’s crop of free agent defensemen is actually relatively deep. As such, these are far from the only names the Avalanche should, and will, consider. Here are five players that would make sense for the burgundy and blue.

5. Luke Schenn


Team: Los Angeles Kings Age: 26 Status: UFA

2015-2016 stats: GP: 72 G: 4 A: 12 P: 16 +/-: -2 PIM: 82

Luke Schenn is likely the type of player the Avalanche could potentially add on the right side, should they keep Tyson Barrie. He’s not flashy, but he wouldn’t need to be on the third pairing. He would simply need to be dependable.

Schenn is big, physical and loves to block shots. Most importantly for the Avalanche, he is also sound positionally and is not turnover-prone. He may have never realized the potential he had as a highly-touted prospect, but he is a solid d-man and is young enough that it is possible that he still could.

Considering he has reached UFA status at the tender age of 26, and that the defensman market is stronger on the left side, there might be some interest in Schenn. Still, even if the price gets inflated some, he is not someone you would have to break the bank to sign.

Estimated cost: $3.25-4.25 million per season.