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The Kerfoot Kerfuffle: College free agent will reportedly sign with Avalanche

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Our long(?) national nightmare is over.

NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Havard vs Minnesota-Duluth Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Former Harvard Crimson co-captain Alex Kerfoot reportedly made his decision, and will not sign with the San Jose Sharks. Instead, the 23-year-old decided to play with Long Beach Native Matt Nieto and will sign with the Colorado Avalanche, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic was a particularly effective salesman, according to Dreger.

Dreger reported Tuesday that the Sharks, Avalanche, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks were the finalists for Kerfoot’s signature on an entry-level contract. Newsday’s Arthur Staple tweeted Tuesday night that he heard the Vancouver native’s decision was between the Sharks and Rangers.

The Sharks missed out on adding a talented young forward without giving up any assets other than salary, but Kerfoot would have had a far more difficult path to immediate NHL playing time in San Jose than he will in Colorado. Although the composition of the Sharks’ depth forwards remains a question, he would have undoubtedly faced better competition for a roster spot than he will in Colorado, given where the Avalanche’s roster stands right now.

As Dreger alluded to, that competition could become even easier if Sakic trades Matt Duchene, as has been rumored throughout the offseason. With a potentially NHL-ready player waiting in the wings, the Avalanche may not wait until training camp to trade the 26-year-old. The Sharks have not yet been linked to Duchene in rumors, and the price to acquire him will be high, but Kerfoot’s signing could open the door for San Jose General Manager Doug Wilson (or another interested executive) to call up Sakic to talk trade.

Kerfoot became an unrestricted free agent eight days ago, after opting not to sign with the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him in 2012. Colorado benefited from the same rule in the collective bargaining agreement that allowed Will Butcher, a 2013 Avalanche fourth-round pick and the reigning Hobey Baker Award Winner, to choose not to sign with Colorado. Butcher is reportedly in the process of narrowing his list down from 12 teams to three or four that he will visit, according to USA Today’s Kevin Allen.