Colorado Avalanche: Most Likely Trade Deadline Moves


The Colorado Avalanche will likely shed a few contracts for draft picks at the deadline. It’s unlikely they’ll make any big moves.

All eyes are on the Colorado Avalanche as the 2017 NHL trade deadline approaches — it’s March 1st, 1 pm MST. Because the Avs are so low in the standings — dead last — it’s thought they’ll be big movers at the deadline.

Indeed, for months Colorado has been at the center of trade rumors, mostly concerning core forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. The price is said to be an NHL-ready defenseman, a draft pick and a prospect.

Spoiler alert: It’s highly unlikely either player will be traded before the season ends. Indeed, GM Joe Sakic is unlikely to make a big splash at all.

Joe Sakic’s Rationale

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In January, when the trade rumors were already in full force, Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic was talking about nothing big happening until the trade deadline got closer. However, even as it gets closer, nothing is happening in the Colorado Avalanche camp.

First of all, that’s par for the course for Sakic. In his first year as general manager, all he did was send over a second round pick (used for right wing Hunter Smith) for goalie Reto Berra.

In 2015, the Avalanche picked up more players, but with less impact. They sent Michael Sgarbossa to the Anaheim Ducks for AHLer Mat Clark. They also acquired Freddie Hamilton from the San Jose Sharks for Karl Stollery. And they got Jordan Caron and a 2016 sixth round pick (sent back to Boston for Carl Soderberg) from the Bruins for Max Talbot and Paul Carey.

The biggest splash came in 2016. Colorado sent a 2017 third-round pick to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Eric Gelinas. They also acquired Mikkel Boedker from the Arizona Coyotes for Alex Tanguay, Conner Bleackley and Kyle Wood.

Those aren’t exactly earth shattering moves.

What’s more, Sakic has been pretty clear that Colorado isn’t looking to shake things up at the trade deadline:

"“I’m not looking to do something big. If something happens, I will listen to get exactly what we want to help the team in the future, and we’ll certainly listen and think about it. But if not, I’m continuing to go into the summer and see how we can improve in the summer. There’s no real deadline that way.”"

That’s why the price for Duchene or Landeskog is so high. If a team’s willing to overpay for one of the forwards, Sakic will jump on the opportunity. Otherwise, there’s no real hurry.

What’s more, any assets they acquire before the June 21st expansion draft would have to be protected.

So, now that we know the Colorado Avalanche are unlikely to make splashy headlines at the trade deadline, let’s see what they might do.

Likely Colorado Avalanche Moves at Deadline

Joe Sakic gave us some insight into his plans in an interview with the Denver Post (see above link):

"“We’re going to listen to offers for our [upcoming unrestricted free agents], that’s where we’re at. We want to start our rebuilding process and get younger.”"

The Colorado Avalanche have six pending UFAs:

They also have four pending RFAs:

It’s likely any of those players would be up for grabs for a draft pick, though I know Sakic would prefer to hold on to Zadorov.

Iginla is almost certain to be moved. He related to Puck Daddy that he’d welcome a trade to a playoff team — and he’d be willing to waive his No Move Clause to make it happen. Sakic won a Stanley Cup with Ray Bourque, who came to Colorado just for that. It’s certain he’ll make the move out of respect for Iginla.

I daresay it’s possible if Colorado agrees to eat some of his salary. We’d all love to see him go to his old team, the Calgary Flames, who are currently in the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Tyutin and Mitchell are likely options for teams looking for a veteran presence for a deep playoff run. Wiercioch and Grigorenko might be good for depth. Again, if Sakic can transform any of these players into draft picks, I’d call it a successful trade.

I’d call Sakic a wizard if he could unload Francois Beauchemin or, especially, Carl Soderberg. The latter and his $4.75-million-cap-hit-through-2020 contract are unlikely to a movable object for the Avs. But if Sakic could get a draft pick for Beauchemin and not have to retain salary… that would almost make up for the Brad Stuart debacle.

That said, the truth is that Joe Sakic is far more keen on making moves around the NHL draft.

What will Happen at the Draft?

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What’s interesting is that there is not one but two drafts this year. There’s the expansion draft on June 21st and the draft proper June 23-24.

The expansion draft doesn’t really run the same way as the draft proper. Instead, the Las Vegas Golden Knights submit their selection of one player from each team on June 20th. The results are announced June 21st. I’m guessing at any point in that process the Golden Knights are eligible to make trades.

In any case, that’s when Sakic likes to make his moves. He didn’t make any moves in 2014. (The Avs traded PA Parenteau for Daniel Briere right after.) He did trade defenseman Nick Holden on the second day of the draft in 2016 for a draft pick this year.

The big splash came in 2015 when the Colorado Avalanche completed the trade that had been coming for a long time — unburdening themselves of the troublesome Ryan O’Reilly. They sent O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn to the Buffalo Sabres for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, JT Compher and a second rounder, then expanded into three.

If Joe Sakic makes any big moves, especially with Duchene or Landeskog, that’s when it’s likely to happen. However, I just don’t see why he’d bother — neither is a problem like O’Reilly and his contractual disputes were.

Maybe, just maybe, Joe Sakic is planning something a little bolder. Maybe, just maybe, he’s planning on doing something that’s only happened 10 times in the NHL’s 100-year history.

He could trade Colorado’s first-overall pick, if that’s what they won in the lottery.

This isn’t a stellar draft year. The projected first-overall, Nolan Patrick, is great but not elite. Sakic was able to turn a 2015 second rounder into three picks. Imagine if he could do the same this year — a team’s first, third and first again (next season).

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In any case, we’ve got a few more months to relax before any earth shattering trades happen — if they happen at all. The Colorado Avalanche are most likely to just collect some draft picks and maybe a few prospects for non-core players by the NHL trade deadline.

By Nadia Archuleta for Mile High Sticking