The Avs were never a team that spent big $$ on the free agent market. The closest they ever came to that was the Kariya/Selanne situation and the only reason that happened was because the two of them were willing to sign within the parameters of the 7 million dollar salary slot that was vacated when Patrick Roy retired. Before that, I think Todd Gill was the closest thing to a big name free agent they'd signed.
You want to see the overspenders, look no further than the Rangers and Stars. Those two teams did everything they could to drive player salaries through the roof.