Following a savvy set of trades from general manager Chris MacFarland, the Avalanche have suddenly figured out a way to solve their center depth. When you combine the deals, Colorado ultimately sent out forward Alex Newhook and added center Ryan Johansen, center Ross Colton, defense prospect Gianni Fairbrother and a first-round draft pick, which was used to draft defenseman Mikhail Gulyayev. Solid piece of work by the front office.

The addition of Colton and Johansen will help fill in two more spots on what’s shaping up to be a new-look offense for the Avs — at least from a depth standpoint. The only remaining forward pieces from the Stanley Cup-winning team are Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen and Logan O’Connor. There’s also Gabriel Landeskog, but he’ll miss the entire 2023-24 season.

The five returning forwards, along with the two new additions, will take up seven of 12 forward spots. There are murmurs out there that Colorado is interested in bringing back Andrew Cogliano to fill another spot, and of course, forwards such as Ben Meyers, Ondrej Pavel and Jason Polin, who will have chances to grab a roster spot in training camp. On defense, the team’s priority is a new contract for Bowen Byram. And once that’s done, he’ll be part of five returning blueliners that have been around since the 2022 postseason. Spots six, seven and beyond are up for grabs.

With unrestricted free agency starting Saturday at 10 am. MT, the Avs are expected to dip into the market to fill out some, if not all, of the remaining spots. Here are some of the UFAs that could be a fit.

Michael Bunting, 27

2022-23 season: 82 GP, 23 G, 26 A, 49 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: 7 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts
Current team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Contract Status: Pending UFA

Coming off a two-year stint with his hometown team, the native of Scarborough, Ont., had a tough ending to an otherwise successful tenure with the Maple Leafs. Bunting was suspended in the playoffs and drew the ire of Toronto’s coaching staff in the final stages of the regular season with his inability to stay out of the box. He’s also seemingly grown a poor reputation among NHL officials. But despite all that, Bunting scored 23 goals in each of his two seasons with the Leafs, playing mostly on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Jonathan Drouin, 28

2022-23 season: 58 GP, 2 G, 27 A, 29 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: Did not qualify
Current team: Montreal Canadiens
Contract Status: Pending UFA

Not the flashiest name on the market, but the former teammate of Nathan MacKinnon, who was drafted two spots later in 2013, is looking for a fresh start after a tumultuous couple of years in Montreal. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on The Jeff Marek on Friday that the Avs could be in the market for several players looking to sign one-year deals and re-enter the market next year when the salary cap rises. Drouin could be one of those signings.

Blake Wheeler, 36

2022-23 season: 72 GP, 16 G, 39 A, 55 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: 5 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 P
Current team: Winnipeg Jets
Contract Status: UFA

There was quite a bit of drama surrounding the Jets’ former captain and the organization when the season came to an end. So Friday’s buyout shouldn’t come as a surprise. But at the same time, Wheeler still produces and could be a good one-year stop-gap at a low cost while the Avs navigate Landeskog’s lengthy recovery.

Max Pacioretty, 34

2022-23 season: 5 GP, 3 G, 0 A, 3 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: Did not play
Current team: Carolina Hurricanes
Contract Status: Pending UFA

Another one-year stop-gap option, Pacioretty is recovering from two torn Achilles injuries in one year. When he’s healthy, his production has shown that he hasn’t quite lost a step yet. This could be another low-risk, high-reward option for the Avalanche at what will likely be a low cost.

Jonathan Toews, 35

2022-23 season: 53 GP, 15 G, 16 A, 31 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: Did not qualify
Current team: Chicago Blackhawks
Contract Status: Pending UFA

Despite the additions of Johansen and Colton, I still wonder about Jonathan Toews and a potential marriage with the Avs. Toews has more to give than a fourth-line center role at this point in his career, but it would be wise for Colorado to convince him to take on the 4C spot. If or when injuries arise, he’ll get top-9 minutes. This is all assuming he wants to return. There still hasn’t been a decision made by Toews either way.

Max Comtois, 24

2022-23 season: 64 GP, 9 G, 10 A, 19 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: Did not qualify
Current team: Anaheim Ducks
Contract Status: Pending UFA

Comtois was not qualified by the Anaheim Ducks and will hit the market on Saturday. Unlike the other choices, Comtois is still 24 and could be a bit of a reclamation project for the Avs. If he finds his game, he’s someone that you could see sticking around for multiple seasons.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 31

2022-23 season: 54 GP, 2 G, 20 A, 22 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: Did not qualify
Current team: Recently bought out by Vancouver
Contract Status: UFA

Perhaps the biggest buyout of the offseason, Ekman-Larsson was wildly overpaid and overused in Vancouver. The left-shot defenseman could be a good third-pair defenseman or a depth option if he’s fine with a one-year prove-it deal.

Carson Soucy, 28

2022-23 season: 78 GP, 3 G, 13 A, 16 Pts
2022-23 playoffs: 14 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts
Current team: Seattle Kraken
Contract Status: Pending UFA

I still wonder if the Avalanche have their sights set on another forward on the trade market. And if Samuel Girard might need to be sacrificed to add a more expensive piece up front. If so, I could see Carson Soucy — a gritty large defenseman — being the ideal target to step into a third-pair role for the Avs. Albeit it won’t be as cheap as someone like Ekman-Larsson.

Notable Mentions: Jesse Puljujarvi, Garnet Hathaway, Connor Brown, Luke Schenn, John Klingberg, Connor Clifton, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar