With P.A. Parenteau, Avs building for future

You can argue all you want about whether P.A. Parenteau, he of the 49 assists and 67 points for the New York Islanders last season, is worth the $16 million the Colorado Avalanche spent Sunday to bring him into the fold for the next four years. What is indisputable, though, is that GM Greg Sherman refuses to stand still in his efforts to rebuild the Avs into a Cup contender.

Since the trade deadline in March, Sherman has added offensive juice in the form of Jamie McGinn, who had 13 points in 17 games after coming over from San Jose, and Steve Downie, who had 13 points in 20 games after being acquired from Tampa Bay and recently signed a two-year deal worth $5.3 million. Throw in newly signed David Jones (four-year, $16 million deal), Parenteau and center Matt Duchene, who played in only 58 games thanks to knee and ankle injuries and recently signed a two-year deal worth $7 million, and the Avs suddenly boast an impressive array of young, offensive talent.

In a late-afternoon conference call with a small group of reporters, Sherman said the changes the team has made dating back to the trade deadline have all been part of a plan to establish the team’s offensive core not just for the immediate future but long-term.

“We feel like we have a real strong mix up front and certainly on the back end,” Sherman said.

Along with Parenteau, the Avs added defensive center John Mitchell, who will ostensibly take the place of Jay McClement, who signed in Toronto, and veteran defender Greg Zanon.

Are the moves enough to get the Avs back into the playoffs after sitting out the past two years?

Last year, they finished 11th in the Western Conference, seven points out of eighth, and it’s not a stretch to suggest the Parenteau experiment will be crucial to making up that shortfall next season.

The Avs’ management team that includes Eric Lacroix, Brad Smith and newly elected Hall of Famer Joe Sakic believes that Parenteau represents not a flash in the pan, a player bursting out on a bad team, but rather a player just coming into his prime as a consistent point producer.

While there might be some skepticism about Parenteau’s ability to replicate his 67-point season, it’s worth pointing out he had a 20-goal, 53-point campaign in 2010-11. Parenteau’s 67 points last season tied the point totals of Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Sedin, Jarome Iginla and Scott Hartnell. Yes, he played more games than some of those players, but he also had more points than Teemu Selanne, Patrick Kane and Brad Richards, who played more games than Parenteau’s 80.

“This was not in our mind a scenario where it was a one-off,” Sherman said.

Parenteau, who played almost exclusively with John Tavares and Matt Moulson for the Isles, should provide more options for an Avs team that had the ninth-ranked power play but tied for 24th in goals per game.

The Avs have to be a better team 5-on-5 -- they were 23rd in that category -- and the Parenteau signing should help in that area. The GM is banking that Parenteau will find chemistry with one of Colorado's skilled centers: Duchene, Paul Stastny or Ryan O'Reilly.

“I think that was something that was certainly appealing to him,” Sherman said. “He’s a dynamic player with some skill.”