In April you may recall that we featured an article discussing how the Colorado Avalanche would have a busy summer ahead due to their strategy of not negotiating contracts during the regular season. One of the biggest questions surrounded the future of veteran Milan Hejduk and whether or not he would return for another year in the NHL or hang up his skates for good.
Today Hejduk, 36, decided that he wasn’t ready to call it a career yet by signing a one-year with the Avalanche believed to be worth $2 million.
Prior to the announcement of Hejduk’s contract it seemed the odds of him returning sat around 50%. The Avalanche named Hejduk their captain during the 2011-12 season which appeared to be more of a symbolic gesture and a way of sending off their leader in style than a managerial decision. In addition, Hejduk had his worst statistical season of his career in 2011-12, scoring just 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points.
Rumors filled the Internet that 2011-12 would be his last season. However, as you have read today, Hejduk put those rumors to rest by announcing his new deal. In terms of salary, Hejduk will be making roughly $600,000 less in 2012-13 than he was in 2011-12, which should indicate that his return isn’t based on money.
At $2 million Hejduk is a logical signing for the Avs. He has spent his entire career playing for the Avalanche, dating back to 1997-98. The 2011-12 season saw the Avalanche come close to a playoff spot but ultimately fall just short. We can assume that Hejduk is lacing up the skates again in the hopes he will be able to help orchestrate a playoff run in Colorado one final time.
With Hejduk back in the mix, the Avalanche can now focus on all of their other pending free agents. Hejduk might be back in the lineup for 2012-13 but the cast of characters that surround him could be very different than the one we saw in 2011-12.