Colorado Avalanche Need Sustained Success to Make Rebuild Stick

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 02: Erik Johnson
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 02: Erik Johnson /
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colorado avalanche
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 02: Nail Yakupov /

Buyers, Sellers or Watcher at the Trade Deadline

All of us concur that the Colorado Avalanche cannot sell their future for a win-now situation. However, the NHL Trade Deadline is just one month away. And it seems like Colorado always does something.

Mark Kinz is convinced that something is selling:

The smart thing to do would be selling, even though it may be a tough pill to swallow with a playoff spot within reach. The obvious choice, unfortunately, is to break up the third line, which has had a fantastic bounce-back year. Blake Comeau is the prime example of a rental player for a cup contender: he’s a pending UFA with playoff experience who provides depth scoring at a reasonable cap hit. In exchange, the Avs could probably get a 3rd round pick, though I’ve seen players of Comeau’s caliber go for a 2nd in the past. Soderberg could also be moved, but he would need to waive his NTC, and the Avs would likely need to retain some salary.
“Other options include Colin Wilson, Mark Barbario, and potentially even Nail Yakupov, if anyone is willing to take a flyer on him.

Ross Kleppe talks himself into being on Team Watcher:
This is a difficult situation to call. On one had, if you have a chance to make the playoffs, you try your hardest to make the playoffs. It’s been shown if you get in, you have a chance. Playoff success has eluded the Avs for a while, and it would be certainly be fun to see. 
“On the other hand, no one expected the Avs to be this good so soon after last year. The Avs do not have to make the playoffs for me to consider this season a success. 

“If the Avs are to be buyers, the player they get needs to be a long term one. I don’t think they should give up some of the many assets they have just for a rental. I’ve harped for a while that scoring on the wing has been a problem for a while, but ONLY if that player was going to be around for years after this season. Those moves normally don’t happen during the deadline, so I don’t think the Avs should be buyers.

“If they want to be sellers, judge the market. Blake Comeau and Nail Yakupov seem to be the most frequently brought up names. If the market for wingers during the deadline is flush with players, you probably won’t get much in return from them. If there aren’t many wingers, either one could fit a team need and you might be able to get higher than market value for them. The big one for me is Jonathan Bernier. He’s been incredible this season, and that certainly has boosted his trade value. If a team is looking for a quality back-up OR if a team loses their starter long term to injury, the Avs could fetch a large haul for Bernier. 

“I am firmly in the Team Watcher’s camp. The Avs are essentially playing with house money this season. If they make the playoffs, that’s great. If not, it wasn’t a lost season and they’ll have a shot at Rasmus Dahlin (Avs fans of all people should know how goofy the NHL draft lottery can be). Teams notoriously over-spend for players at the deadline, and with all the assets the Avalanche have, there’s no need to waste them.

“That being said, if we got a James Van Riemsdyk or a Mike Hoffman, I may not hate it all that much!”

Tom Janz gets right to Team Watcher:

“I think the Avalanche should be a watcher at the trade deadline, assuming the season doesn’t go horribly awry in the next roughly 17 games. They absolutely should NOT add rental players. If a team puts forth an outrageous offer for Blake Comeau or Mark Barberio, the Avs should listen. However, unless it is a second round pick for the former, or a third round pick for the latter, I’m allowing this roster, as presently constituted, to try to get into the playoffs.”

And Ross Sellers is putting it all in GM Joe Sakic’s hands (where it is anyway):

They are buyers if they want to go into the playoffs and make a run. They look for someone like Pacioretty too. They are sellers if they want to keep building toward the future. And they watch if they want to keep riding the train and hope it turns out well enough to see a postseason berth. Only Joe Sakic knows what they’ll end up doing.”

I’ve never been able to read Sakic the way I could Patrick Roy, so I don’t know what the GM will do. However, if the offer is right, I could see him moving defenseman Tyson Barrie. If he could get half the haul for Barrie he got for Duchene, especially heavy on picks and prospects, that would be a good trade. And I think a team looking to go far into the playoffs might just make the trade.

Likewise, if the Avalanche could use Barrie or something other than picks and prospects to solve their impending goalie situation at the deadline, that would be good. However, that’s probably more of an NHL Draft trade.

Like I said in the previous slide — Nieto, Soderberg and Comeau are coming up spades this season. Could a playoff team see some use in one of those players down the stretch? My guess is a team might be willing to give up a middling draft pick for some of Comeau’s grit in the playoffs.

Next: Matching the Half-Season to Goals and Predictions

The Colorado Avalanche were never truly as bad as the 48-point season they had. They weren’t a 112-point team either. I’d say the 82-point 2015-16 season, 90-point 2014-15 season and potential 97points from this season is about right for the team. That’s the depth they truly have.

As Nathan MacKinnon continues his ascension into elite status with Mikko Rantanen right behind him, and as the youngsters fully develop their NHL roles — and with Gabriel Landeskog captaining the ship — we can see a team rebuild that should deliver sustained success.