Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic was Focused on Jarome Iginla Trade

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic was more focused on trading Jarome Iginla than making other moves. That doesn’t mean this deadline was a bust.

For the Colorado Avalanche, moving veteran right wing Jarome Iginla couldn’t have been easy. He’s 39, and his production has declined. He’s in the midst of his worst season of his career. And he carries a $5 million cap hit, only $2.5 million of which could be retained.

Not only that, Iginla had a No Move Clause. So GM Joe Sakic couldn’t consider any teams without consulting Iginla. (Or his agent, anyway.) And he only wanted to go to a potentially contending team.

In other words, it probably took a lot of finagling to get Iginla sent anywhere.

I’m not saying Sakic was so distracted by making the Iginla trade happen that he was unable to do anything else. Rather, I’m saying he had no burning desire to do anything else. Getting Iginla to a playoff team was the only burning issue.

First of all, Sakic is only a dabbler in the trade deadline. He’s never made any big trades. The biggest was sending the aging Alex Tanguay to the Arizona Coyotes for rental player Mikkel Boedker. That’s not exactly the kind of trade that gets splashed across headlines.

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No, old Joe prefers to make his big moves at the NHL draft. That’s when he made the biggest trade of his career as Avs GM: Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn to the Buffalo Sabres for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, JT Compher and a second round pick. He then traded that pick for three more.

Maybe there’s a little flare for the dramatic in Sakic. Maybe he likes to hear that arena-wide announcement at the draft: “We have a trade to announce.”

Some people are really criticizing Sakic for being relatively quiet this trade deadline. His only other trade of note was to pick up winger Sven Andrighetto in exchange for Andreas Martinsen. Some people — especially opponent fans — wanted to see him move either Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene. Avs fans wanted more pending UFAs moved for draft picks.

That last one would have been nice. However, like Iginla, players such as John Mitchell, Fedor Tyutin and Rene Bourque are having one of the if not the worst seasons of their career. And they’re not Iginla-caliber, so why would teams want them? Yes, we’d all have loved to see Sakic unload either Francois Beauchemin or Blake Comeau, but that was always a long shot.

In truth, Joe Sakic has made no bones about what his focus is — getting to the offseason. At minimum four contracts and the remainder of Iginla’s salary come off the books. There are also four pending restricted free agents, so the team has some leeway there, too.

I think Sakic is going to do two things. He’s going to make trades at the deadline. He may move Duchene or Landeskog, but he said himself, “I like our guys, and they’re all signed.” In other words, there’s no reason to move any core players.

Rather, Sakic may trade a couple players for draft picks. Personally, I think he’s going to trade picks for picks. Colorado has a good chance of getting that first overall, or at least be in the top five. Knowing the talent isn’t fantastic this year, Joe may try to trade for numbers instead.

And then he’s going to try making a splash in free agency. There are no big contracts pending this year — Zadorov is the only player who’s likely to get a raise. Therefore, the Colorado Avalanche might throw around some money to get good, young-ish players.

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In any case, I simply don’t see this as a bust for the Colorado Avalanche. We’re in a tight spot, true. However, it was highly unlikely any trade Joe Sakic could make at the deadline would have changed that significantly. We’re simply in for a climb out of the basement.