The Colorado Avalanche GM had an opportunity to land a top tier player to the roster. He didn’t and saved the Avs from potential disaster.
There are several different emotions that come with following your favorite sports team. Excitement when they do well, anger when they lose, hopelessness when the star player gets injured. Following the Colorado Avalanche is no different, but the one emotion I have always felt when it comes to the Avs might have turned a corne,r and it took a virus the likes we have not seen in a century to do so.
Outside of a playoff run, or your team being in the championship series, the most exciting times for me personally is the wheeling and dealing that comes with the trade deadline, the draft and the free agency period. However, the Colorado Avalanche typically play the role of the silent type during these times and I’m sure there are many Avs fans out there like myself who feel that bubbling up of frustration with the front office in not making a headline grabbing move and instead making those puzzle piece moves we all know are important but hate deep down.
This is especially true more recently. Over the past several seasons the Avs have not made that so-called ‘big splash’ when it comes to free agency or at the trade deadline. This was a big talking point this season when Taylor Hall was being shopped around by the New Jersey Devils. Acquiring the Hart Trophy winner was as divisive within the Avalanche fan base as the country is right now over politics.
On one hand you had the crowd that wanted nothing to do with obtaining Hall and for a number of reasons. They didn’t think his style of play or even his attitude would mesh with the current roster or they simply did not want to upset what the team had accomplished until then and how the team was playing. The thought being if you bring in another superstar with the ego of Hall would he be more of a problem than anything?
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On the other hand you had the crowd that felt the window of opportunity for any team is narrow and if you have the ability to get a player of Hall’s talent you get him come hell or high water. The Avs have a prospect pool that is unrivaled across the league. So why have all those assets just sitting there not only not playing for the Avs right now, but who knows when? With New Jersey wanting to rebuild and asking for prospects the Avs would be the frontrunner in acquiring Hall no matter the cost.
I was in the latter crowd. Sure, the Devils might have wanted a minor King’s Ransom in return for Hall, but the Avs had it. They had spent the past couple years building a system that put them in a great position to win now and for the future (thanks Matt Duchene). I was more concerned about the now. I was willing to give up some of those promising prospects to get a player of Hall’s skill for the chance at a Cup this season.
Joe Sakic was not, and I am grateful for that. To recap the Hall deal, the Devils sent him and Blake Speers to Arizona for a conditional first round pick in 2020, a conditional third round pick in 2021 and prospects Nick Merkley, Nate Schnarr and Kevin Bahl. That third round pick could turn into another first rounder if Arizona wins the Cup and Hall signs with the Yotes. So overall, a pretty good deal for New Jersey.
So if that was the asking price what would Colorado have needed to give up to land Hall? We might never know exactly who the Devils were requesting but reports stated they were set on Bowen Bryam and probably wanted the likes of players like Martin Kaut, Connor Timmins and some were speculating Tyson Jost. Byram wasn’t going anywhere, and even I was not willing to part with him, but the others I would have been ok with. Like I said, I had tunnel vision on wanting to win this year. It was all about the here and now for me.
That was before COVID-19 said hello to the sports world.
All of sports, and for the most part the world, was put on pause due to the coronavirus. There have been grumblings recently that the NHL is formulating some sort of continuation of the season that was put on pause due to the virus. If that happens then the teams that made deals at the deadline or during the season might still get some return from any player they obtained.
The Taylor Hall deal went down in mid December so if the Avs had pulled the trigger then they would have had Hall for all of three months. Would that have made the fanbase feel any better for giving up a chunk of their future for 30 games and a possible rental that never even gets the chance to complete the season due to once in a lifetime circumstances? No way. Now consider if the Hall sweepstakes went down to the deadline and you had Hall’s services for about 10 games while giving up the same picks and prospects? I shudder to think.
Plus, it’s not like Hall had been lighting the league up since his move to Arizona. Hall has played in 35 games amassing 10 goals, 17 assists and a -3 since his arrival in the desert. Respectable? Sure, but for a former Hart Trophy winner expected to come in and lift a franchise to the next level I would be disappointed at this point if I were the Coyotes.
Joe Sakic had interest in landing Hall, and for the right package they would have gotten him. However, Sakic has his mind set that he is not going to make a deal that sacrifices the future of this team. I was in 100% agreement with him until Hall became available. Then all reasonable rationale went out the window for me. Not with Joe.
The season might continue and we might get to crown a champion. It’s still up in the air at this point but the NHL is doing everything they can to get this season in. Imagine if they can’t. The teams like New Jersey who were offering up their best to build on their future will all win in the short term with the deals they made to improve their team. The teams who sacrificed their future for the chance to win this season could lose more than their prospects if the season doesn’t resume.
Think about it. You made a deal to bring in a guy for a run at a championship and now there is a possibility that you never will get that chance and gave up prospects in the process. You technically gave up your future for nothing if that player moves on come free agency.
Not the Colorado Avalanche. We all love sitting home thinking we can play GM and make it out to be easier than it is. Joe Sakic didn’t know coronavirus would come in and sweep the legs from under the NHL. His concern was his franchise and its sustainability and he was not willing to take a chance on his team’s future for a ‘win now’ possibility. He felt they had enough to win now and was showing first hand the support he had in his players and this roster.
It wouldn’t have mattered if the Avs had Taylor Hall or 30 games or nine. The sting of giving up the future would still hurt the same in the current state of affairs. Think about the deal the Avs did make at the deadline. Acquiring Vladislav Namestnikov for a fourth round pick. If the season never continues and Namestnikov goes elsewhere during free agency all we lost was a fourth rounder. Not names like Jost, Kaut, Byram and Timmins.
We should all be thanking Joe Sakic for sticking to his plan. I know I am.