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UFA Options: Jeff Finger & Kurt Sauer

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The Colorado Avalanche are likely in for a tumultuous off-season, with four (John-Michael Lile, Jeff Finger, Kurt Sauer, and Adam Foote) of their top seven defensemen slated to become unrestricted free agents.

Of those four, it's difficult to see Liles being of interest (given how his skill-set is duplicated three times over already), and Foote will likely command a marquee deal that will be an overpay by whoever gives it to him. With that in mind, let's look at Sauer and Finger, both of whom could fly under the radar this summer.

Courtesy of NHL.com, here is the ice-time breakdown for the two:
Jeff Finger - 16:35 EV, 2:18 SH, 1:03 PP, 19:57 Total
Kurt Sauer - 15:25 EV, 3:10 SH, 0:05 PP, 18:41 Total

Behind the Net makes it pretty clear how Quenneville matched his defensemen; I can't recall seeing such a clear cut chart of opponents before. Prior to Foote's acquisition, Clark and Sauer were thrown at the tough opponents, Hannan and Salei the middling, and Finger and Liles got mop-up duty.

Sauer posted a bizarrely good 2.81 GFON/60 vs. 1.70 GAON/60 - this against the very best in the NHL. Amazing number. Finger had good numbers too (3.00 GFON/60, 2.38 GAON/60).

Short-handed, Sauer underwent a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation (.36 GFON/60, 7.95 GAON/60) while Finger was also bad (0.38 GFON/60, 6.09 GAON/60). The Adam Foote trade seems like it was probably made primarily to address the penalty kill, as he put up a much more respectable .75 GFON/60 vs. 3.91 GAON/60. Colorado finished 13th in the Western Conference penalty-killing (ahead of 6 Eastern teams, including Pittsburgh).

Although it's difficult to say how much the problems on the PK depended on personnel vs. coaching, neither Finger or Sauer should be counted on as a dependable option. Even-strength, Finger can probably play middling opponents with some success, but he doesn't even come close to Sauer, or add a dimension the Oilers lack. I'd say that Finger is not a player of interest, while Sauer, despite his struggles short-handed, should be considered a player of interest. The other thing about Sauer is that he probably wouldn't cost very much at all.