It’s been a crazy 24 hours for Avalanche fans. While most were still reeling from the news of goalie Semyon Varlamov’s Wednesday night arrest, the Avalanche brass was hard at work negotiating a deal for Philadelphia Flyers center Maxime Talbot, one that has left many Avs fans scratching their heads.
The trade is puzzling, for several reasons: Steve Downie had shown great chemistry with linemates Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene in his first ten games this season, bringing some much-needed grit and physical presence to a very skilled line. Downie played with an intensity that elevated the game of his linemates, getting under the skin of opponents to help free up some room and attention for his two superstar linemates.
In short, Downie’s play was a big factor in the stellar play of Duchene and O’Reilly this season, and the trio had been the team’s best line up until this point. So what gives?
There are a few possible scenarios that come to mind when I consider this trade. For one, the Avs could be trying to divert media attention from the Varlamov situation until that whole mess gets sorted out; then again, it’s a high price to pay, shipping off one of the team’s most well-liked wingers and potentially damaging the chemistry of a strong line this early in the season. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.
What seems more likely, though, is that the Avalanche want to add a little bit more depth and experience to their lineup. Talbot is 29 and brings a pretty sharp resume to the lineup in terms of experience: he’s played in two Stanley Cup finals in his career, and won a cup in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 13 points (8g/5a) in the process. He’ll join goalie J.S. Giguere and left wing Alex Tanguay as the third player on the roster to have won a Stanley Cup.
Despite his veteran presence, Talbot’s arrival brings a new conundrum to this Avalanche team. He’s a center, and the Avs are already stacked down the middle with Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, and John Mitchell. Talbot played on the wing briefly alongside Evgeni Malkin during his tenure in Pittsburgh, but it remains to be seen where he’ll fall in the scheme of things with the Avalanche.
My best guess? He plays wing with Nathan MacKinnon and Jamie McGinn, with PA Parenteau jumping up to play with Duchene, his buddy from last season, but even then, it’s likely the Avs will miss Steve Downie’s strong presence, at least in the short term.