Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic Proves with his Trades Patience is a Virtue

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 14: J.T. Compher
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 14: J.T. Compher /

The Colorado Avalanche have been involved in some big trades in recent years. Not all trades have an immediate impact on a team and with a good amount of Sakic’s trades, patience is a virtue. 

For the Colorado Avalanche as with other teams, every time a big trade is announced, no matter the teams or players involved, fans and media members alike always seem to ask the same question — “Who won the trade?” It can sometimes be hard to properly gauge that question because no two trades are the same. Different players, different rosters and different team circumstances make each trade unique.

The Avalanche within a fairly short amount of time have made some very important trades. Dealing top centers Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene have brought real assets to the team. But “Who won the trades?”

In the case of the Ryan O’Reilly deal, I believe it’s the Colorado Avalanche. Of course there has been a good amount of time that has passed, so evaluating this trade is a little easier. For Buffalo, they got a very solid, two-way 2nd line center to play behind Jack Eichel. I don’t think they made out terribly, but the trade has not resulted in the results Buffalo had hoped for.

The Avalanche, and more specifically Joe Sakic, got so much more out of that deal than Buffalo. It’s even more than you think. He received Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher, and a 2nd round pick in 2015. Grigorenko didn’t necessarily work out how the Avalanche envisioned, but Zadorov and Compher have turned into important staples of the roster.

The 2nd round pick is where I really think Sakic turned this trade into a win for the Avalanche. Sakic dealt O’Reilly on the 1st day of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. On the 2nd day of the draft, he dealt that 2nd round pick to the San Jose Sharks (Jeremy Roy) for a later 2nd Rounder in 2015 (A.J. Greer), a 2nd Rounder in 2016 (Cameron Morrison) and a 6th Rounder in 2017 (Denis Smirnov).

These to me are the types of deals that can win you a Stanley Cup.

Middle to late round draft picks who provide scoring beyond the top scoring talent has been crucial to the last few cup winning teams. Players like Jake Guentzel (3rd round pick in 2013) of the Penguins and Brandon Saad (2nd round pick in 2011) of the Chicago Blackhawks proved to be crucial to their respective teams during their cup runs.

Cameron Morrison and Denis Smirnov look to be decent enough prospects that may or may not turn into NHL regulars. Smirnov over the past two and a half seasons with Penn State and the Fargo Force of the USHL has been over a point-per-game player. Morrison has some more growing to do at Notre Dame before he’s ready to compete for an NHL roster spot, but according to, he has all the makings of a successful bottom-6 power forward.

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A.J. Greer has looked good in the AHL. He still has some growing to do in San Antonio, but he has all the makings of talented, pesky power-forward. I don’t believe there is any real need to rush him up to the Avs roster, so letting him stay and develop in the minors seems to be the best course of action.

Of course there is no guarantee any one of those three prospects will turn into quality, dependable secondary scoring for the Colorado Avalanche. Prospects and draft picks are always a mystery and very much depend on scouting and proper development. The second trade made during the 2015 draft Sakic, flipping that second round pick acquired in the O’Reilly deal for a lower 2nd round pick and two additional picks, is exactly the type of deal that gives a team more chances for mystery prospects and picks to succeed.

If you look at the trades combined, the Avalanche traded Ryan O’Reilly and Jaime McGinn for Zadorov, Grigorenko, Compher, Greer, Morrison, and Smirnov. The last large trade Sakic made, dealing Duchene, gained the Avs six prospects and picks. So, “Who won the trade?”

To me, it’s all about what position your team is in. The real question is, “Was the trade a win for your team?” Colorado isn’t going to win the Stanley Cup this year and probably not next year either (I know, I’m not happy about it either), so all those players and picks are going to come in handy down the road.

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Sakic is retooling this team, and so far he’s making the right moves. He has done a masterful job in getting quality return for the two big time centers he’s dealt. He’s gotten the quantity in both, it was just a matter of time to determine the quality.