Some players get better during their contract year.
JOSE THEODORES GAA SINCE 96
Three of his best 4 seasons (the three seasons in the graphy that have yellow lines) have been contract years. It is part of his French Canadian heritage to play better when there is money on the line (I am supposedly French Canadian so I am allowed to make that joke).
But look at the example of a Swedish Player such as Markus Naslund. This is his worst season he has had in a decade (some could argue last season was slightly worse). Yet it is his contract year. Fortunately for the Canucks, we will either resign Naslund at a low cost (hopefully 3 million), or let Glen Sather sign him to a 8 million dollar a season contract.
Naslund's Swedishness apparently rubbed off on his teammate Brendan Morrison. Morrison is also having the worst season of his career, and he is also in a contract season. Fortunately for the Canucks, this leaves a lot of wiggle room for signing some new UFA's next season.
Unfortunately for the Colorado Avalanche, they might now be in a position where they have to resign Jose Theodore (considering he has been their starter this season) to a much larger contract than he deserves. And then theodore will put his skillfullness into seclusion until his next contract year. Fans of the Flames and Canucks should hope that Theodore, Forsberg, Sakic and Forsberg's groin play very well this playoffs. The Avs have a lot of young players to sign, and it will really screw up their future if they resign any of these players to reasonable contracts.