Colorado Avalanche: Evaluating the Trade Deadline


The Colorado Avalanche didn’t do much to help or hurt their present or future at the trade deadline

Now that the trade deadline has passed, let’s take a look at the moves the Colorado Avalanche made.

And that’s a wrap, thanks for reading.

No, GM Joe Sakic didn’t quite do nothing at the deadline, but he certainly did nothing adjacent. His two moves were to claim borderline NHLer Mark Alt off waivers and trade stalled prospect Chris Bigras for Ryan Graves.

But if the old adage is true, and the best trade is the one you don’t make is true, Sakic had a great deadline. Let’s go with that, otherwise it was just an anti-climactic day rife with hijinks from bored hockey commentators (at least here in Canada).

What They Did

If the Colorado Avalanche accomplished anything on February 26th, it was getting much taller. Alt is listed at 6’4”, an inch shorter than Graves. Graves is 25 pounds heavier than Alt, who clocks in at a wiry 201 pounds. With Samuel Girard, Cale Makar and Tyson Barrie all under 6′, this could be an attempt to balance things out a little bit.

Aside from being able to reach things on really high shelves, nothing about Alt jumps out. In nine NHL games the 26 year old has no points, one penalty and 11 hits. He has, however, been hit 23 times, and apparently generated one rebound. He’s no analytics gem either, being a negative in Corsi, Fenwick, Scoring Chances, and High Danger Corsi, both in absolute and relative terms. To be fair, nine games isn’t a reasonable sample size to draw any conclusions from. Sakic must have seemed something he liked.

Hopefully it’s more than just height.

As for Graves, he’s… intriguing. It’s disappointing that Bigras didn’t pan out in Colorado, but it was clear he needed the classic change of scenery.

Graves is 22, and was a 4th round pick in the same draft as Bigras. So Sakic waited almost five years to trade down a couple rounds. He scored 21 and 30 points in his first two years in the AHL, so there’s some upside there. Sakic probably nailed it on the head when he called it a lateral move.

All in all, the moves were nothing to get excited about. The Avalanche now have one more defencemen who may crack the NHL roster at some point than they did before the deadline.

The real story what didn’t happen

What They Didn’t Do

Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche /

Colorado Avalanche

Sakic, thankfully, didn’t do anything too drastic. The team that got the Colorado Avalanche into the playoff hunt is going to be the one to carry it through. For better or worse.

Staying the course was, on one hand, a bit of a missed opportunity. With Blake Comeau, Gabriel Borque, Mark Barberio and Jonathan Bernier all pending UFAs, Sakic could have theoretically nabbed a few pieces. But with the latter two injured and the others playing well on a bubble team, Sakic wasn’t in an easy spot.

Unfortunately, Sakic wasn’t willing/able to leverage his cap-space to his advantage. He seemed poised to take on a bad contract or two in exchange for picks and prospects, but nothing materialized.

It’s impossible to know what offers, if any, Sakic got, but as of now keeping all four looks like an opportunity squandered. But, after landing six high quality pieces for Matt Duchene, the Avalanche were less desperate for assets than they otherwise might have been.

On the other hand, Sakic managed to avoid any colossal blunders. He didn’t sell the farm for Erik Karlsson, who, despite hockey pundits best efforts to manufacture interest in the trade deadline, remained unsurprisingly untraded.

Even better, Sakic held on to Tyson Barrie.

Bigras is a perfect example of why you don’t bet everything on prospects, no matter how exciting they are. Remember how bright he looked in his first training camp? Remember when GM Greg Sherman traded John-Michael Liles because Stefan Elliot was lighting up junior?

Makar and Connor Timins look like fantastic prospects. Just like Elliot, Bigras, Duncan Siemens and a slew of others. If and when they prove themselves in the NHL, then it’s worth trading an established star. Not after most of a good season in junior or college.


Trade deadline day was a mixed bag for the Colorado Avalanche. A day of both missed opportunities and dodged bullets. Sakic failed to add any shiny new pieces to get excited about, but he also avoided any glaring mistakes. It would have been nice to land a few more picks and prospects, but missing out isn’t the worst thing in the world.

The Duchene trade re-stocked the system enough to buy Sakic some slack with his UFAs. The Avalanche will go into the summer with the deepest system they’ve had in recent memory. That’s true even without any deadline moves.

Next: Failed Chris Bigras Experiment

The lone trade Colorado made won’t have any impact on the current team, and leaves the farm system in roughly the same place. And the big trades the team avoided will likely be in their long term best interest.

All in all, the Avalanche are in virtually the same spot they were in the day before the deadline.