Colorado Avalanche: Potential Blockbuster Trade with Edmonton

Mar 25, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) looks for a loose puck in front of Colorado Avalanche goaltender Reto Berra (20) during the third period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 25, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) looks for a loose puck in front of Colorado Avalanche goaltender Reto Berra (20) during the third period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers were to make a blockbuster trade, what would it look like?

When your team fails to make the playoffs, changes happen. When your team appears to be under-performing, big changes sometimes happen.

In the case of the Colorado Avalanche, the team appears to be under-performing. Colorado has talent, but for the sixth time in seven years, the Avalanche didn’t make the playoffs.

This situation is mirrored in Edmonton — or, maybe I should say, it’s magnified by the Oilers. Edmonton has had very high draft picks in recent years, including four first-overall. Yet the team hasn’t made the playoffs in ten years.

Both teams may be looking to make big moves over the summer. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has already hinted that a core player could be on the move. As of right now, the following players comprise the Avalanche core:

Of those players, only MacKinnon is considered untouchable.

Recently I corresponded with Sammi Silber, editor of Oil on Whyte, about the Edmonton Oilers and a potential blockbuster trade.

Sammi Silber’s Proposal

Here is Sammi Silber’s proposal verbatim:

"“A blockbuster between [the two teams] would involve Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Duchene, Tyson Barrie and the draft picks, as well as another Oiler (Nail Yakupov or Mark Fayne).”"

Settle your hackles, Avs Nation. Let’s examine the pieces of this proposal.

First of all, we all know what center Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie bring to the table. The main component is scoring ability compounded by speed. Barrie is the Colorado Avalanche’s highest scoring defenseman, and Duchene is the team’s highest scorer period.

Neither is big or overly physical, but both make their presence known on the ice. Of the two, Duchene probably has a more solid two-way game — let’s face it, his defense is often better than Barrie’s. Both are excellent playmakers with great ice vision.

Ok, now let’s look at the concrete piece Sammi offered — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Nugent-Hopkins was the only player chosen before Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog in 2011, meaning he went first-overall. He has played in 313 NHL games over a span of five seasons and earned 77 goals and 145 assists.

Nugent-Hopkins is around Barrie and Duchene in size at 6-foot, 190 pounds, and just about as physical (meaning not). Indeed, injuries have been a problem for Ryan — he missed 25 last season due to injury.

Nonetheless, Nugent-Hopkins scouts as a stellar playmaker with a decent two-way game. He’s got excellent hockey vision and a scoring touch. He’s definitely a top-two center.

Sammi talked about making either Nail Yakupov or Mark Fayne part of the trade, too.

Now, I actually suggested Yakupov for a potential trade at the deadline:

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Yakupov went first-overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. He’s a perennial underachiever who has so much potential. He could be a pure goal scorer. He’s speedy and stick handles well. He’s small, though — just 5-foot-11, 184 pounds. It’s hard to say he fits the Colorado Avalanche mold.

On the flip side, d-man Mark Fayne is nice and big — 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. Otherwise, he doesn’t have a ton to recommend him — he’s really more of a depth defenseman.

Answering the Proposal

Um, no. I’m afraid Avalanche GM Joe Sakic would have to smoke all the pot in Colorado — which is a lot, since it’s legal here — to consider trading Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and either Nail Yakupov or Mark Fayne. And even if he tried, I’m pretty sure Patrick Roy, who has final say on player personnel as VP of hockey operations, would stop him.

However, Sammi said something about draft picks. Remember, the Edmonton Oilers have the fourth-overall draft pick, and GM Peter Chiarelli has indicated it’s in play. Now, I already explored the possibility of the Colorado Avalanche acquiring that pick:

Related Story: Avs Should Solicit Oilers' #4 Pick

I think Sakic might consider an unsigned Tyson Barrie for the pick straight up, especially if the Avs get to retain their #10 pick.

I don’t see Sakic trading Duchene to Edmonton. Frankly, I’m not sure why the Oilers would want him — don’t they already have enough smallish, speedy skill-forwards? They keep drafting them first-overall.

In classic (armchair) GM style, I’m going to make a counter-proposal to Sammi.

Counterproposal to the Oilers

The key parts of Sammi’s deal appear to be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie. Indeed, it’s no secret the Edmonton Oilers want an NHL-ready defenseman.

As a straight trade, that’s not sufficient for the Colorado Avalanche. However, as Mile High Sticking writer Mark T. points out, the Avs would love to have Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle on the team. After witnessing Hall’s chemistry with Matt Duchene on Team Canada — they’ve won back to back gold medals at IIHF Worlds together — I’m leaning that way.

Hall is another mid-sized player (I told you the Oilers love these guys). He was their first-overall in 2010. He’s an explosive skater with elite playmaking and goal scoring ability. He has 132 goals and 196 assists in 381 games across six seasons.

Ok, now we’ve got some crazy good players in play — the title of this post is about a blockbuster trade. In order to pry both Nugent-Hopkins and Hall out of Edmonton, Colorado would probably have to give up Barrie and a good-prospect forward, like a signed Mikhail Grigorenko.

Essentially that would be Barrie for Hall — elite for elite — and Grigorenko for Nugent-Hopkins — potential for potential.

Unfortunately, this was Sammi’s answer:

"“I’m sorry, but that would never happen. Ever. Hall is basically untouchable, and would cost a Duchene!”"

She wasn’t much interested in the Barrie-for-fourth-overall proposal either. Turns out this general managing, even from an armchair, is a tricky business.

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What do you think, Avs Nation? What kind of blockbuster trade would you make with the Edmonton Oilers?