Colorado Avalanche: Should They Trade for Alec Martinez?

DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 19: Alec Martinez #27 of the Los Angeles Kings plays the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on January 19, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 19: Alec Martinez #27 of the Los Angeles Kings plays the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on January 19, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche look pretty set at defense. Nonetheless, could the team be looking at a trade for defenseman Alec Martinez?

The Colorado Avalanche have the best blueline they’ve had in a long time, maybe ever. They have stalwart veterans, exciting youngsters, and replenishment coming up the pipeline.

The Avs are so good on D our serviceable defenseman, Mark Barberio, moved up to Loveland on a conditioning assignment. Calle Rosen is going to take his place on nacho patrol.

So, for many Avs fans, trading for a defenseman may feel like the one move they don’t need to make as the February 24 trade line approaches. However, TSN sportscaster Pierre LeBrun made a proposal in a piece for The Athletic that’s intriguing:

I don’t hate that trade in any way. Let’s look at the moving parts.

Alec Martinez

Alec Martinez is a left-handed defenseman who can play either side. The 32-year-old is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings (2012, 2014). In fact, Martinez scored both the Western Conference and the Stanley Cup Finals series winners in 2014.

No one’s ever going to accuse Martinez of being an offensive defenseman. In 556 NHL games, he’s recorded 61 goals and 129 assists. However, the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Michiganian plays solid defense.

After this season, Martinez has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $4 million. The Colorado Avalanche currently have just over $20 million in cap space.

Sampo Ranta and a 2nd Rounder

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The Avs don’t have a second round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. They used it as part of the trade for winger Andre Burakovsky. A second rounder would likely be necessary for the trade to happen, so it would have to be in 2021.

Colorado chose left wing Sampo Ranta in the third round of the 2018 NHL Draft. The Finn is in his second year at the University of Minnesota. He didn’t have a stellar rookie season, earning 6 goals and 10 assists in 36 games. However, he’s already surpassed that mark (7 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games this year.

Viability of the Trade

LeBrun based the proposal of this trade on two factors. One factor is that the LA Kings, who are dead last in the Western Conference with 43 points and didn’t qualify for the playoffs last year, are indicating the need for a rebuild. A 32-year-old defenseman is unlikely to fit into those plans.

The other factor, or a related factor, is that the Kings traded away 29-year-old Jake Muzzin last season. They got more in return for him — forward Carl Grundstrom, the rights to defenseman Sean Durzi and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. But he was younger and a little more offense-minded.

So, Los Angeles might be up for the trade. What about Colorado, though? Well, first here are LeBrun’s points:

  • Martinez is a two-time Cup champ, so he’s got that important experience
  • A deep playoff run requires 9-10 good defensemen

Now granted, the Avalanche already have a defenseman with Cup experience — Ian Cole won twice with the Penguins. However, I think there’s something to be said for a player with Western Conference Cup experience.

I concur whole-heartedly with LeBrun’s estimation that you need a deep defensive core if you’re making a real run at the Stanley Cup. Beyond our regular six skaters and the conditioning Barberio, we’ve got Calle Rosen and Kevin Connauton. Or you have to look at rookie Conor Timmins. That’s still barely nine.

Truthfully, there’s only one glaring issue with the trade — where do you slot Martinez in when he first arrives? The defensive core is already set:

  • Ryan Graves-Cale Makar
  • Sam Girard-Erik Johnson
  • Nikita Zadorov-Ian Cole

Every single one of those players has earned his spot on the team and, fingers crossed, each is healthy. So, do you put Martinez on nacho duty instead of Rosen or Barberio? That move would make little sense.

I really like the idea of this trade, though. I like Alec Martinez as a player and as a person. I think he really could augment the team, especially down the road.

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Do I think the Colorado Avalanche are going to pull the trigger on that trade? I’m guessing not unless one of our defensemen goes down with an injury — so hopefully not.