Colorado Avalanche Don’t Need to Rush Any Big Moves

DENVER, CO - APRIL 06: Gabriel Landeskog
DENVER, CO - APRIL 06: Gabriel Landeskog /
DENVER, CO – APRIL 04: Matt Duchene
DENVER, CO – APRIL 04: Matt Duchene /

The time is wrong for the Colorado Avalanche to trade away their best talent.

Trade rumours swirl around the Colorado Avalanche. Matt Duchene is as good as gone. Captain Gabriel Landeskog may be as well. And Tyson Barrie, can’t forget about him. Even Nathan MacKinnon isn’t immune.

More from Mile High Sticking

Every fan and pundit has their opinion on what the team should do with their best players. Many say trade one or more of them. The proposals are too many to keep track of at this point.

One of the less common proposals might actually be the best option for the Avalanche. Hold on to all their top talent. For now. Keeping Duchene, Landeskog and Barrie on the roster gives Colorado a great opportunity to be better both this season and in the future.

Those guys can be instrumental in hauling the Avalanche out of the cellar next season. Then, when it’s over, they can be used to put the team right back in contention for the top picks in next year’s draft.

Guys like MacKinnon, MIkko Rantanen and Tyson Jost are thought to be untouchable. And rightfully so. But, Duchene, Landeskog and Barrie would be valuable trade chips come draft time if the Avalanche sought to move up the board.

A Good Draft to be Bad For

The Colorado Avalanche have been bad in bad years to be bad. As good as our high picks are, there’s no denying they aren’t in the upper echelons of the league. 2018, on the other hand, looks like a draft that can turn around a franchise’s fortunes in a hurry.

Just in time for the Avalanche to improve.

Colorado still doesn’t have a very good roster. And it could get worse if Nikita Zadorov doesn’t re-sign.

Related Story: Avs Without Zadorov

But the Avalanche will almost certainly be better than last year.

Having top defenceman Erik Johnson and #1 goalie Semyon Varlamov healthy alone should drive some improvement. If nothing else, the miserable 96.6% PDO the team put up should climb to something more respectable. Coupled with possession numbers that were 3.5% better than the year before, there’s reason to believe the Avalanche could actually finish outside the bottom 5.

Which is why they shouldn’t be trading away their best players just yet. The lottery proved that being awful isn’t enough to get the top pick.

So management should be stockpiling as much ammunition as they can to give themselves the best opportunity to land a top pick, even if they don’t lose their way into it. That means moving some older players for mid round picks, and more importantly, holding on to impact players.

Trade Bait

As with virtually any ‘don’t trade’ argument, there is the caveat that offers too good to turn down shouldn’t be turned down. But barring those type of deals, GM Joe Sakic shouldn’t feel pressured to pull the trigger. He still has a safety net next June.

Teams usually don’t trade down in the draft without getting a really good, established player coming their way. It’s one of the things the Dallas Stars demanded when they dangled the 3rd overall pick this year. The Colorado Avalanche have those type of players.

As long as they keep them

If a team is looking for a centre, Duchene is probably about the best one a team could reasonably trade for. Barrie could entice a team looking for a defenceman. Landeskog should appeal to a team looking for a rugged winger.

Related Story: Holding onto Duchene Not a Bad Thing

And in each case, there is someone else in the Avalanche organization poised to take over their role in the near future. The most tempting Avalanche players might be older than a rebuilding team would want. In that case, there’s always the potential to trade them to another team for other assets that can be flipped.

They also have their own 1st round pick, likely in the top 10, some decent prospects, and if Sakic performs better next season than he did this one, hopefully a few more picks and prospects as veterans are shipped out. All in all, the team should have everything they need to reach the top of the draft.

All without selling off their top players and tanking.

And if the Avalanche win the lottery (or at least don’t lose it), there’s always the option to trade one or more of those guys for something else. After the season they had, it would be hard for their value to sink any lower.

Eyes on the Prize

So what is it the Colorado Avalanche could get for all this trouble? Just about anything they could ask for.

At the top of the list should be Rasmus Dahlin. If Colorado wants to fix its blueline, there’s not many better places to start. Dahlin looks to be the most highly touted D prospect since Aaron Ekblad.

There is definitely room on the blueline for:

"A crafty two-way defender, Dahlin has drawn incredible praise as the result of his lethal all-around game. A smooth and agile skater, Dahlin has speed to burn and loves to jump up in the play, however, he also uses his impeccable footwork to consistently fend off attacking forwards. In addition to his strong defensive play, Dahlin loves to throw his weight around and is by no means afraid of ruffling his opponents’ feathers."

A pairing of Dahlin and Cale Makar could make even the Nashville Predators jealous in a few years.

If Dahlin’s not available, how about winger Andrei Svechnikov? The Avalanche sure could use:

"A strong skater of great size, Svechnikov’s play revolves largely around his speed and ability to protect the puck. More than willing to drive hard to the net and able to maneuver in close to the goal, Svechnikov has breakaway speed and the puck skills necessary to find the net. Further, with his long strides and strong legs, Svechnikov can easily fend off opposing defenders throughout his drive to the goal."

If he’s not the potentially game-breaking forward the Colorado Avalanche like, there are a few other options available.

Joe Veleno is the first ever player to receive exceptional player status in the QMJHL. That means he played as a 15 year old, something even MacKinnon, Sidney Crosby and Nico Hischier didn’t manage. While that’s more to do with changing perspectives in the league than Veleno’s abilities, he still looks like a dynamite prospect.

Then there’s Brady Tkachuk, a younger version of emerging Calgary Flame star Matthew. Tkachuk does what Tkachuks do. He’s a skilled forward with a nasty streak.

Rounding out this list is Filip Zadina, a highly creative forward who has a knack for making things happen.

These kids are only the tip of the iceberg in a draft that looks to have a lot of high end talent. Of course, rankings will change as the year goes on. Some of these names might drop off, and others are sure to force their way into the conversation as top prospects. Either way it seems pretty clear that this is a good draft for a rebuilding team to have a high pick in.

Next: Reaction to Duchene's PEP Camp Presser


The Colorado Avalanche need an injection of talent pretty much everywhere. While trades and free agency are viable ways to improve the team, the surest, albeit slowest, way is through the draft. Colorado looks to be in a position to capitalize on a really strong 2018 draft.

At this point, it seems likely the Avalanche will finish in the bottom 10 for the 4th consecutive year. It’s a bewildering position for a roster that includes talent like Duchene, Barrie and Landeskog, among others, but it’s the reality. However, keeping these players throughout the season will give the Avalanche an opportunity to snare a high draft pick come June.

With those three in the fold, Colorado should be much more competitive on the ice and still have the chance to be at or near the top of a strong draft. It’s not a guarantee of course. Whatever teams end up at the top will likely be reticent to move down.

But it will be a lot easier for the Avalanche to tempt them if they hold onto their best cards until then.