The deal is worth $16 million with a $4 million annual salary cap hit, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The person spoke Monday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team doesn't disclose contract terms.
Colorado acquired Colton from cap-strapped Tampa Bay prior to the NHL draft for the 37th pick. Colton was a restricted free agent whose arbitration rights could have hurt the Lightning, making him their top trade candidate.
Colton, now 26, scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for Tampa Bay in 2021. He was also with the Lightning the following year when they lost to the Avalanche in the final.
"Ross is a hard-working, two-way center with a championship pedigree," Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said at the time of the trade. "He has physicality to his game, is ultracompetitive and his versatility will make him a valuable addition to our lineup in a lot of ways."
The Robbinsville, New Jersey, native has 83 points in 190 NHL regular-season games with Tampa Bay.