Written by Nathan Coker, who can be found on twitter at @ncavalanche
The trade deadline is less than a week away and already the Colorado Avalanche have pulled off a trade, sending RFA defense-man Kyle Quincey to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for RFA forward Steve Downie (Tampa then flips Quincey to Detroit for a 1st). So, what does this mean for the Avs? Well, according to TSN analyst Pierre LeBrun via Twitter, another NHL GM has told him that “..’Colorado could be quite busy over the next week.’ Trade 1 is down..”. I would say that the Avs will be buyers AND sellers. Look for the Avs to be making more similar moves as the Quincey-Downie trade. They have a lot of players who are not showing up every game – and it’s costing the team in the standings. I would look at those players to be the first to leave for either draft picks or other roster players to help with the scoring.
They have a good, young core of players down the middle (Duchene, O’Reilly, Stastny) who are all play-makers. They desperately need scoring. More importantly, they need scoring WINGERS. And grit. Their top wingers are Landeskog (although a great player, hes still so young and has much to learn), Hejduk (who’s career is clearly dwindling) ,and Mueller (who seems to be injured every other week).
Other then that, coach Joe Sacco has had a merry-go-round of players play on the wings of these gifted center-men, players that have no business being in the top 2 lines (Kevin Porter, Daniel Winnik, etc.). This has even lead to Duchene playing wing, something a lot of Avs fans don’t really want to see happen consistently. Avalanche management need to look around the league and pull off some trades for a scoring winger or two, or gritty players with some offensive upside. Doesn’t have to be an “all-star” caliber player, just someone in the vein of a Mueller or a Fleischmann (and hopefully less injury-prone).
That being said, over the past 2 seasons, Avs management have pulled off trades bringing in talented players who have not performed well in their previous organizations and basically out-stayed their welcome. Mueller, Fleischmann, Johnson, and Varlamov were all in difficult situations with their former teams and basically became disgruntled to the point were they were traded. The Avs took chances on them and for the most part, it has payed off well. I would look for the Avs to make some very similar trades, and the Downie trade is a perfect example of what is to come.
As far as who the Avs would inquire about, here are some names I have been hearing, and some players I personally think they will/wont go after:
C Jeff Carter, Columbus Blue Jackets – This has spread through the Twitter-verse over the last week, and let me just say that it would be very silly for the Avs to pursue Carter. Yes, he’s got the scoring touch they really need, but the Avs have an abundance of center-men.. which leads me to assume that they are actively thinking of shipping out someone like Stastny in the deal. And that is something that would not bode over well with the fans. Stranger things have happened in the NHL, but I just can’t see this one happening.
RW Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues – I believe this rumor started courtesy of Adrian Dater of the Denver Post. But regardless, this is not happening. No way, no how. Avs got rid of him for a reason, he won’t be making a return. I just wanted to address this if anyone was still thinking this deal could happen.
LW Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens – The Avs have had a few scouts at Montreal games lately, which has lead many to assume they’ll be going after this streaky winger. As it is now, I don’t think anyone wants this kid. He’s wildly inconsistent and doesn’t show up to play hard most games. However, Mueller and Fleischmann were in similar situations and both thrived extremely well in Colorado. Maybe, just maybe, the Avs could turn this Kostistyn brother into a consistent 20-25 goal scorer. I think it’s a high possibility, especially considering the history of trades between the Habs and Avs.
LW Alex Semin, Washington Capitals – Now here’s a partner the Avs love to trade with. Semin is a LW goal scorer. The Avs could really use a top LW scorer. He is on the outs in WSH (from what I hear). The Avs like to trade for disgruntled players. I don’t know what the exact deal could be, but I sure hope the Avs are at least kicking tires with WSH about Semin. He would be a great fit and it would give Varlamov an old Russian friend to hang out with. I’d put the Avs near the top of teams who could land Semin.
Other than the players I mentioned above, there really isn’t a whole lot else the Avs could pursue. Buffalo is an intriguing team, as they have some players who could be on the trading block that the Avs could use, like Derek Roy or Drew Stafford (plus, it should be noted the Avs have scouted a few Buffalo games recently). If the New York Islanders don’t lock up P. A. Parenteau, he could be a great option for the Avs. Most of what the Avs do this trade deadline will be very random and completely unexpected, as they’ve shown us time and time again. Expect youth and forwards coming their way, if anything.
I also don’t see the Avs going after star players like Zach Parise or Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash, for it would cost the entire farm to obtain players of that caliber. It’s very likely the Avs will wait until the off-season to go after someone like Parise, like every team in the NHL will.
So, who do the Avs even have to offer? A little bit of everything, actually.
Defense is where they got the most prizes to be traded. Leading the pack WAS Kyle Quincey. He was, arguably, their best defender, leading all defense-men in points. He is also a RFA this summer. Naturally, that made him a hot commodity throughout the NHL and Detroit snatched him up.
Shane O’Brien is a UFA this summer, and having a career year with the Avs this season. He’s a great leader on and off the ice, so what team wouldn’t want that? Hopefully the Avs resign him, but I can see him going to a Cup contender for a pick or prospect.
Jan Hejda signed a 4 year contract with the Avs last off-season. While he has shown flashes of great hockey, most times he has been the victim of many bad plays. However, that has not stopped the trade talk. His name has been linked to teams such as Boston and Philadelphia, but I do not see a trade happening mainly due to his contract.
Ryan O’Byrne is a solid defender. He is quiet and does his job effectively. He’s also a big guy, so I can see a lot of teams coveting for him for that reason alone. He’s not someone who gets pushed around easily.
Matt Hunwick is up for grabs for literally anything. He is one of the most gifted skaters in the entire league, hands down. It’s just that he shouldn’t have been a defense-man. If anybody comes calling for Hunwick, the Avs would be stupid not to trade him for whatever they offer.
Erik Johnson has also been randomly linked to some rumors, mainly because people tend to think he is a bust and the Avs are unhappy with him. Let me just say that he’s NOT available and he has been an absolute beast the last few months. The Avs want to build around him, he is their franchise defense-man right now. He’s also playing some damn good hockey, so that will only help keeping him around. With Quincey gone, Johnson will be staying for sure.
As far as forwards are concerned, Kevin Porter, Chuck Kobesew, Jay McClement, Daniel Winnik, and David van Der Gulik are all on the market for the right price. All are 3rd-4th line grinders, with Winnik and McClement bringing the most upside. These players, if traded, will fetch nothing more
than a prospect or draft pick. Or, they will be packaged along with a higher caliber player for something more.
Defense-man Ryan Wilson, and gritty two-way forward T.J. Galiardi could also be had for the right price, though it seems like management want to keep these two around. Wilson is big, bruising defense-man that is not afraid to deliver those big, bone-crunching body checks – which he does well too. Galiardi is a pesky kind of player with a fair amount of offensive upside. He could be a great 3rd line winger on a contending team.
David Jones and Paul Stastny have heard their names quite often in the trade rumor market, and both could bring back some decent talent. Jones has been inconsistent this season and has a history of injury problems, but he did net 27 goals last season and a change of scenery could do him wonders. Stastny on the other hand, is an elite play-making center and a lot of teams will be asking about his availability. For the right price, Stastny is available and he could bring in a top-level winger the Avs really need. It’s something Avs fans don’t want to see happen, but if it makes the team better, Avs management should pull the trigger.
Milan Hejduk, the 3rd captain in Avalanche history, has played his entire career with the Avs and is the only player on the current roster with a No-Trade Clause. I honestly cannot see the Avs trading him, though I’m sure a team like Boston would certainly try to acquire the veteran right winger. Lock him in as an Av right up until he retires.
Another intriguing option could be goaltender J.S. Giguere. He was brought in on a two-year contract to mentor and push young goalie Varlamov to perform better. Instead, he’s been the better goalie and clearly has taken over the number 1 goalie status in Colorado. His play has impressed Avs management a lot, and impressed many teams throughout the NHL. I seriously doubt the Avs will trade him as they have a good thing going with him and Varly. But if they get an offer they can’t refuse, Giggy will be packing his bags. I’d hate to see him go, but if they can get a high draft pick or good solid player/prospect for him, I’m all for it. Trade ‘em while he’s hot, right? Maybe a team like Florida would pursue him.
Duchene, O’Reilly, Landeskog, Johnson, Mueller and Varlamov are basically the only players NOT on the trade block. Anyone else on the roster is up for grabs in some way. The Avs won’t trade any of their core players.
As far as salary cap issues are concerned, the Avs have about 70 million (according to capgeek.com) to spend come the trade deadline. Not much, right? They currently have THE most money to spend, so if you were a betting man (or woman), put some money on the Avs making a lot more trades within the next few days. This is even with a team that has ZERO players on the injured reserve.
They are also the youngest team in the league, and many of their young players are RFA’s this summer and will be getting hefty raises. So don’t expect them to take in too much money.
The Avs are a very intriguing team this trade deadline. They will most certainly be pulling off more trades, and only a few players on their roster are not up for grabs. Expect some changes in Colorado, but nothing too drastic.