Jamie McGinn lights up Michal Neuvirth. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado is past the halfway point of the season and looks like quite a viable playoff contender. Last year, the team was holding itself above water at midseason with a .500 record, but the Avalanche went on to lose 13 of its next 15 games. With a late trade deadline last year, Colorado should have picked up the trade phones and stockpiled on picks in anticipation of one of the most replete NHL draft classes in recent memory. But they didn’t do much at the deadline, and were granted the first pick in the draft.
Fast forward to this season. The team has won more than twice as many games than lost. Additionally, three players are on pace to surpass the 60-point barrier (Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Paul Stastny). With that said, why would a trade be necessary for Colorado at this point? Simply put, there is a need for more offensive presence on defense. Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda have been breaking out this year (even if it is very late for Hejda to raise his game), but Johnson is on pace for a 30-point season, while Hejda isn’t even projected to hit 25, the bare minimum requirement for a player to be considered an offensive defenseman. Suffice it to say, this team has three great two-way defenders in Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, and Cory Sarich, two sub-par offensive defensemen in Nick Holden and Andre Benoit, and one gritty, hard-nosed d-man in Nate Guenin.
So what is needed? A true, shot-blocking defensive-defenseman would do wonders for this team and would ease the pressure off of Semyon Varlamov. That is why I have proposed this first trade for a big time defensemen.
Byfuglien celebrates a game-winning assist against the Avs. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
1. Paul Stastny, Jamie McGinn, Stefan Elliott and a 3rd Round Pick for Dustin Byfuglien and a 2nd round pick
A blockbuster trade like this would completely alter the Colorado Avalanche. First of all, no trade scenario could be devised without some verity: Dustin Byfuglien’s name has been often thrown around lately.
With this trade, the Avs would no longer have that massive surplus at center and the defense would finally be shored up. Everybody is ecstatic about Jan Hejda’s renaissance this year, but he is way up there in age and cannot perennially sustain this level of play.
A player like Byfuglien, whose physicality and fine two-way game are well-heralded, will do wonders in aiding Erik Johnson, who is starting to blossom into a top young defenseman. With Johnson and Byfuglien in the back end, Semyon Varlamov should have little trouble in maintaining his Vezina-like performance and the powerplay unit should be able to move up into the top-10.
Byfuglien would not come cheap, though. Losing a bright prospect like Elliott is already depressing, not to mention losing Stastny who has been such a great team player and leader this season. Losing McGinn will only be damaging in that it is another lost forward without recompense. Ultimately, the ends justify the means in this deal and Joe Sakic would be foolish not to pursue this route.
Of course, if the Avalanche decide to invest in their younger options (and they have a lot of options between Stefan Elliott, Tyson Barrie, Duncan Siemens, and others), they will be able to focus on bolstering the forward and goalie corps. That is why I have proposed this next trade.
2. PA Parenteau, Jamie McGinn and a 2nd round pick for Martin Erat and Michal Neuvirth
This has the potential to be a very controversial trade. First of all, it is known that Roy is disappointed in Jean-Sebastien Giguere. But the question is if he and Joe Sakic are willing to make a trade that would effectively end Giguere’s career. Enter this trade.
On the side of Washington, the play of Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer has deemed Neuvirth expendable. He has been a health scratch over the past month and has officially asked for a trade. In addition, Erat has been looking for a way out of Washington since he first stepped foot in the nation’s capital.
So why would Colorado do it? Well, it is always dangerous to overcommit to one goalie, especially with the playoffs on their way. Having two strong starting goalies will do the team wonders in the playoffs. Semyon Varlamov will no longer have to stand on his head day-in day-out. In addition, replacing Parenteau with Erat is not too devastating a blow.
Sakic and Roy are likely ready to cut ties with Parenteau and McGinn, so why not throw in a third round pick and end the Giguere experiment in exchange for another strong goalie, and a 32-year old scorer?
Who do you guys think is on the way out of Colorado and who would you like to see in Denver? Leave me a comment with your opinion. Thanks for reading!