Colorado Avalanche: Musing about Cody McLeod Trade

Jan 27, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Colorado Avalanche left winger Cody McLeod (55) skates off the ice with a bloody nose after a fight during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 27, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Colorado Avalanche left winger Cody McLeod (55) skates off the ice with a bloody nose after a fight during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

 The Colorado Avalanche traded veteran winger Cody McLeod for prospect  Felix Girard, likely in a move to shed salary while getting younger.

Former Colorado Avalanche winger, and one-time alternate captain, Cody McLeod probably hasn’t even made preparations to leave his home yet. He got traded to the Nashville Predators, whom the Avs are playing tomorrow.

That alone brings up a couple interesting questions. First of all, do the Nashville Predators suit up Cody McLeod for tomorrow’s game? I think they’d be crazy not to. McLeod would be the most motivated player on the ice tomorrow afternoon — traded players always want to show their former teams what they’re missing out on.

That also begs the question — who does Cody Mac try to fight? That’s what old Double Nickels does best. With McLeod gone, Andreas Martinsen is the closest the team has to a warrior now, so he’s a possibility. My money’s on left wing, Gabriel Landeskog, our perennially wild power forward captain.

A rather funny musing is how McLeod handles just the inner workings of tomorrow. Does he go to the team hotel tonight to bond with his new Predator teammates? Does he stay home with his family, drive to the Pepsi Center like usual, then walk over to the visiting locker room? Talk about awkward.

When he inevitably earns a penalty, will he forget himself and head to the Colorado Avalanche’s penalty box, à la David Legwand:

Funnily enough, that little snafu also involved the Nashville Predators.

Anyway, McLeod, like Legwand, had spent all of his career with just the one team up until today. Here’s where he stands in that category:

Ok, on a more serious note, let’s look a little more closely at the deal. The Colorado Avalanche traded McLeod for forward Felix Girard. Girard is only 22 and just 5-foot-10, 197 pounds.

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The acquisition comes on the heels of Colorado picking up Matt Nieto from waivers. Nieto is 24 and 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. These two acquisitions tell me the Avs are not only committed to getting younger (McLeod is 32), but also smaller for some reason.

Yes, part of that reason could be speed. According to Hockey’s Future, Girard skates fast. He’s also known for being a gritty, two-way player with good leadership. Girard is a depth acquisition — he’s already on his way to the San Antonio Rampage.

Additionally, right now the Colorado Avalanche are all about shedding salary. They waived both John Mitchell and Eric Gelinas earlier in the season to shed salary, but there were no takers. According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Avalanche will retain 40 percent of McLeod’s $1.33 million salary for this and next season. That’s almost $800,000 in cap relief for next year.

Cody McLeod saw his role greatly diminished this season. His grit and tenacity made him favored in the previous regime. But he had his alternate captaincy stripped by Jared Bednar, and he’s been a healthy scratch for a lot of games. He has just one point on the year, a goal, in 28 games.

That said, he was ever a fan favorite, mostly because of his passion. Also he fights. A lot. His 12 fighting majors were an NHL high last season, and he’s just one shy of leading that category this season.

My favorite-ever Cody McLeod fight came on Valentine’s Day, 2015. Cody did Dallas. After McLeod had been battling in the first along the boards, he dropped the gloves with Curtis McKenzie:

Scratch that — McLeod dropped McKenzie himself. Anyway, in the third period, McLeod dropped Jason Demers with a huge check. He skated over to the Avs bench. Demers was by his own bench. He decided sucker punching McLeod was a good idea. That’s when Cody unleashed ginger hell:

He was essentially ready to take on the whole Dallas bench. His passion was so popular, he won first star honors for the night. He’d been ejected from the game, though, so he had to accept from the locker room!

Yeah, old Double Nickels was known best around these parts for fighting.

According to the Denver Post, Joe Sakic, who played with 55 at the end of his career, had talked to McLeod already about a trade. When a possibility with the Nashville Predators came across, he discussed it with Cody himself:

"“After all the work he’s put in for the Avalanche, I asked Cody what he wanted to do. I was going to treat him like basically he had a no-move (clause). I gave him the opportunity, I told him it was Nashville. I asked him if that was something he wanted to do.”"

McLeod jumped at the opportunity because playing for Nashville gives him a chance at the playoffs.

However, our former alternate captain wanted to go out in style. The Colorado Avalanche faced the Anaheim Ducks last night. Cody McLeod made sure he could hunt down a dance partner, and he gave us one last fight:

It’s clear at least Gabriel Landeskog was privy to this being McLeod’s swan song — he led the team in a raucous cheering for Cody.

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The Colorado Avalanche are going to be making some changes in the upcoming weeks. That’s natural when a team is in as dire of straits are they are now. Best of luck to Cody McLeod — he really was a warrior for our team, but he just didn’t fit into the new dynamic.