If Avalanche management is smart — OK, knock off the jokes, please — it will sign Matt Duchene to a long-term extension as quickly as it can this summer.

For the Avs, that means June 22nd. That was the date last year on which he signed a two-year, $7 million contract, and NHL bylaws prohibit any extensions from happening one calendar year sooner.

Signing Duchene to a multi-year, multi-million deal wouldn't be just good business on the ice. It would help reset a locker-room salary hierarchy that the Avs never wanted to let get out of hand this season.

Avs management, you'll recall, drew a line in the sand (or is it ice?) on what it would pay Ryan O'Reilly before the Calgary Flames came in and wiped out that line with a two-year, $10 million offer sheet that includes a $6.5 million salary for next season.

The Avs vowed not to pay O'Reilly anything more than Duchene's $3.5 million cap average salary, but as of now, they are. Come June 22, they can correct that situation — and I'm not saying this as a knock against O'Reilly at all. He played the system to his advantage, and got what he got fair and square.

But let's face it, Duchene has proven he's worth more. He's had a great season. The Avs' last-place standing entering Tuesday's game in St. Louis certainly wasn't his fault.