Colorado Avalanche Could Bribe Las Vegas to Take Bad Contract

Jan 4, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche center Carl Soderberg (34) against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche center Carl Soderberg (34) against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche could make a trade with the Las Vegas Golden Knights to unload Carl Soderberg’s contract. Would the price be too high, though?

The Colorado Avalanche have a bad contract or two and seem willing to make deals. Las Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee has openly stated he’s willing to take on a couple “big” contracts — for a price:

"“We’re willing to take on a couple of contracts that people would like to move. We have a lot of teams that are offering us some big contracts. We’ll take a few of those… for the right price.”"

And what contract am I targeting the hardest? That albatross around the Colorado Avalanche’s neck: Carl Soderberg, $4.75 million, three more years. That makes the Brad Stuart contract look downright shrewd.

Now, the Colorado Avalanche are almost certain to expose Soderberg in the Expansion Draft. They’ll also expose their other unfavorable contract, Blake Comeau, $2.4 million for one more season.

However, contracts will likely also force Colorado to expose defenseman Mark Barberio. They will probably also expose Calvin Pickard. I’m guessing Vegas bites on one of those players.

Carl Soderberg Must Go

Two years ago, trading for center Carl Soderberg seemed like the right move. The Colorado Avalanche were about to unload center Ryan O’Reilly in a trade. They needed someone to fill in.

Soderberg was never meant to be O’Reilly’s equal — Colorado already had the one-two punch of Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene at center. Rather, Colorado wanted his size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) combined with his hockey IQ and two-way acumen.

For the first season, he seemed to be living up to his promise. He earned a career-best 51 points (12 goals, 39 assists). That didn’t quite seem worth $4.75 million, but it was better than overpaying Paul Stastny ($7 million) and Ryan O’Reilly ($7.5 million).

Then last season happened, a career-worst for Carl Soderberg — six goals and eight assists in 80 games. Colorado was moving toward a young, speedy mold of player, and the 31-year-old Soderberg didn’t fit in.

And that was too bad because the Avs have him for three more years. It would be so much easier to create the future of the Avalanche without Carl Soderberg acting like an anchor to the team.

Related Story: Best Expansion Draft Scenario for the Avs

Bribing Las Vegas

It would be ideal if the Avs could bribe the Knights into taking that “big” (bad) contract off their hands.

More from Mile High Sticking

Depth-wise, the Colorado Avalanche don’t have much to offer the Las Vegas Golden Knights. They do, however, have one golden ticket — the fourth-overall draft pick. It’s not as good as a first-, second- or third-overall draft pick. However, it’s better than Vegas’ sixth-overall.

Now, does swapping the #4 for the #6 make sense for the Avs? I think so. After the first and second slots, the draft order depends on team needs. I think the Avs would like Owen Tippett. If he’s gone, they’ll take Casey Mittelstadt. Or Gabriel Vilardi. Or Cody Glass. Or Miro Heiskenan. Any one of those players would fit Colorado’s extensive needs.

What about Vegas, though? What do they need? Well, they’re not going to need a depth player — they’re going to get those in spades in the Expansion Draft. They need a marquee player.

Gabriel Vilardi could be that marquee player. He is a force on the ice. He may not be the fastest skater, but he’s a big, two-way forward with a lot of pizzazz on his stick — and in his personality.

Vilardi might not be available at the #4 slot. But he definitely won’t be available at sixth-overall.

Just swapping picks probably wouldn’t be enough of a lure for McPhee. They might have to throw a prospect the Knights’ way.

How about defenseman Andrei Mironov? He’s another big personality. He likes to hit. He’s rather flashy on the ice. As weak as Colorado’s defense seems to be, they do have Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie as the conerstones as well as Nikita Zadorv (we hope).

If they don’t lose him to Vegas, they also have Mark Barberio. Chris Bigras, Nicolas Meloche, Anton Lindholm (who did so well last year) and Sergei Boikov could also fill in.

Would Vegas be tempted then to take on Carl Soderberg’s contract? They’d have a better chance at getting Gabe Vilardi, and they’d have Andrei Mironov for the blueline.

Should Colorado make a deal like that? They definitely wouldn’t get Vilardi or Mittelstadt, but Tippett, Glass or Heiskenan would do just fine.

And they’d have some money freed up for the next three years. That would help sign Zadorov, Mikko Rantanen eventually, and maybe even a couple free agents down the line.

Next: Worst Case Scenario for the Expansion Draft

What do you think, Avs Nation? Should the Colorado Avalanche try to bribe the Las Vegas Golden Knights to take on Carl Soderberg’s contract?