Black Friday is traditionally the day people go bargain shopping. Canada Day is the time when Canadians dress up their dogs (Matt Duchene does anyway) and celebrate being Canadian. The Colorado Avalanche, being an American team, got the two days mixed up.
How else to explain the bargains they signed today?
Ok, Jarome Iginla‘s not exactly a bargain, having signed a three-year contract worth $16 million each year. Iginla’s a mite long in the tooth at 37 for such a contract, but… he’s a star player. He has 1,167 career points, 50th on the all-time NHL scoring list. At 560 goals, he’s 24th all-time in the NHL.
And Iginla is a competitor. He said of what he’ll bring to the Avalanche:
“I expect to be good. I expect to push myself and be really good for the team. I want to compete out there. I plan on working as hard as ever this summer…not to be arrogant, but I think I can still be very good.”
In his 19 years in the league, Iginla hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. This late in his career — it’s likely he’ll retire from the Avs — a player is more interested in winning than anything else. The Boston Bruins were interested in re-signing him, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks were attempting to sign him. He said of coming to Denver:
“Denver has always been known as a great destination. I’ve been impressed with how quickly [the Avalanche] have been able to get better.”
One of the other deciding factors seemed to be Iginla’s longtime friendship with executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic — they even played on Team Canada together in the 2002 Olympics, earning gold medals.That and he appreciated the Avalanche’s dynamism when playing against them.
So, Iginla’s excited to play with the youngsters — potentially on a line with the two youngest Avalanche, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Or maybe he’ll line up with the 23-year-olds, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly.
One things for certain — if anyone can match Duchene’s desire to win, it’s a veteran like Iginla.
Brad StuartThe Avalanche also picked up defenseman Brad Stuart, and this one was a bargain — all they had to give up was a second-round selection in 2016 and a sixth-round selection in 2017. In return they got a veteran with the kind of experience the Avalanche need.
Stuart won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008, so that’s some valuable experience for the Avalanche. He’s appeared in a total of 142 career playoff games. He’s also a gritty, physical player. In fact, he’s infamous in Colorado for having hit Gabe Landeskog in the head, which left our young captain concussed in 2013. So, that’s awkward. (Landeskog, the quintessential leader, already tweeted him a cute chirp.)
Joe Sakic said of the trade:
“The acquisition of Brad helps strengthen our blue line. He is a proven, quality defenseman and his addition will help our team.”
While it’s true Parenteau was a bit better in numbers than Briere, he just didn’t seem to fit into Patrick Roy‘s vision for the team. He was a healthy scratch for several games after coming back from a knee injury he suffered against the Winnipeg Jets in late December. He got back on the roster, then went and injured his knee again — again against the Jets. Parenteau was on the trading block already in March.
In any case, Briere has leadership capability. More to the point, he’s played in 124 playoff games to Parenteau’s seven — the Avs’ run this year. In fact, Briere is known for turning into a beast in the playoffs. He’ll probably be a third-line or fourth-line center.
Holden proved himself to be valuable on the blue line. Indeed, when discussing the Avalanche’s defensive core of players, head coach Patrick Roy named Holden right along with Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie. He scored 10 goals — second only to Barrie among defensemen — and 15 assists in the 2013-14 season. Even more impressively, he led Avalanche defensemen in points in the playoffs and scored just as many goals — three — as Landeskog.
The Avalanche also acquired some random players: center Jesse Winchester, defenseman Bruno Gervais, defenseman Zach Redmond and forward Ben Street. No offense, but they look like the type of players who will bounce back and forth between the minors or spend a lot of time as healthy scratches. Nonetheless, hockey’s a rough sport, and you never know when you’re going to need a random forward or defenseman to play a few games.
Nonetheless, overall the Avs brought in a good haul. They got some depth. They got some veteran experience. They even got a little extra leadership. The Colorado Avalanche is clearly gearing up for another playoff run — hopefully a longer one this time.