Colorado Avalanche: Will They Trade for Kyle Connor?

DENVER, COLORADO - FEBRUARY 20: Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche fights for the puck against Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets in the first period at the Pepsi Center on February 20, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - FEBRUARY 20: Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche fights for the puck against Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets in the first period at the Pepsi Center on February 20, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche might be in the market for a center, but their name has been linked to a winger in the rumor mill.

The Colorado Avalanche are once more in the rumor mill for the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline. The most recent name linked to them is Winnipeg Jets left wing Kyle Connor.

And they reportedly want Bowen Byram and a prospect in return. Vladislav Kamenev was a name mentioned.

My knee-jerk reaction was, “No way!” But then I saw that it was getting some press in places such as Sports Illustrated and the Winnipeg Free Press. So, I decided to look a little more deeply into the matter.

About Kyle Connor

Connor is a 23-year-old right wing. He’s 6-foot-1, 182 pounds. He has 59 points (28 goals, 31 assists) so far this year. Last season he recorded 66 points (34 goals, 32 assists) and 57 points (31 goals, 26 assists) the previous year. He’s the current scoring leader for the Jets.

Connor is currently in the first year of a seven year contract with a cap hit of $7,142,857. The final two years he has a Modified No-Trade Clause.

About Bowen Byram

Bo Byram is an 18-year-old defenseman the Avs picked fourth-overall this summer. The 6-foot-1, 194-pound Byram had a semi-decent camp, but the Avalanche sent him back to his major juniors team. He has signed his entry-level contract.

Byram is killing it with the Vancouver Giants, earning almost a point a game. He has 32 points (5 goals, 27 assists) in 36 games, as a defenseman. He was the most highly-touted defenseman of his draft class.

About Vladislav Kamenev

Neither Sports Illustrated not the Free Press mentioned who would be packaged into a deal — both specified “two smaller pieces.” However, Sports Network‘s Eliotte Freedman stated Kamenev was part of the rumor he’d heard.

Anyway, Kamanev came to Colorado as part of the Matt Duchene trade. The 23-year-old center is 6-foor-2, 194 pounds. He has played only 24 NHL games, all this season, and recorded 1 goal and 5 assists. He’s usually the first one scratched when the team is healthy.

Kamenev has completed his entry-level contract. He’s currently on a one-year contract worth $750,000.

Evaluating the Viability of a Trade

This trade isn’t happening. It makes no sense for the Colorado Avalanche and even less for the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets need a high-end defenseman after the defection of Dustin Byfuglien. However, they need one now as they’re making a run at playoff contention — they’re just one point out with 27 games remaining.

Byram isn’t eligible to play in the NHL until the Giants’ season is over. So he would not provide help for them this season. As the Free Press said, the Jets’ trading their leading scorer away for a defensive prospect would be akin to waving a white flag on the season.

Oh, and there’s that nugget. The Jets have Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. But it’s Connor that’s leading the team in scoring. If you’re gearing up for a run at the playoffs, you don’t shed your leading scorer! That’s a move you make when you’re not in the playoff picture. Just ask the Minnesota Wild.

The Colorado Avalanche are in win-now mode, which is why Connor seems to make good sense for them. What’s more, they just lost their second-line center for four to six weeks.

Here’s part of where it stops making sense for the Avs — they need a top-six center, not winger. They’ve got that position well-sorted.

Even if they decided to shuffle lines around to make room for Connor — because, hey, the coaches do that for any reason anyway — there’s the problem of the cap hit.

Colorado currently has $23,754,095 in cap space. Connor is signed for six more years! In that time the Avalanche will have to re-sign the following core players:

Plus, both Valeri Nichushkin and Andre Burakovsky are on one-year show-me contracts. And they’ve both shown us. Ryan Graves (last year) and Nikita Zadorov (last year) have shown us, too.

Connor would put the Avalanche into cap hell in just a few years.

My Thoughts on Such a Trade

Joe Sakic has turned into an extremely intelligent and diligent general manager. I imagine he regularly makes calls on certain players just to see if he can catch a GM in a mood.

But I don’t think he’d really be serious about trading Bo Byram. I believe he has his mind set about the future of the team, and that future is based on a ridiculous offensive defense and hard workers in the forward corps.

I don’t know why that’s Sakic’s vision, but it’s absolutely what he’s building toward.

I’m also going to point to something — team chemistry. The Colorado Avalanche have worked extremely hard at team chemistry because they know that and a hot goalie win championships.

Sports fans love to say team chemistry doesn’t matter (but this guy would make the team better!) until it does (locker room cancer.). But tight bonds and hot goalie = championship — it’s the modern formula.

Next. Should the Avs Trade for Martinez?. dark

Would I like to have Kyle Connor on the team? Absolutely. Do I think the Jets are going to trade him to a division rival? Heck no. Do I think Sakic will trade Byram? Nope.

The NHL Trade Deadline is February 24.