The Colorado Avalanche brought back two familiar faces in the trade deadline. After a two-year absence, what can Carl Soderberg bring to a team about to partake in its most promising playoff run in over a decade? The longtime Avalanche centre might still have some tricks up his sleeve for the rest of the season.
When Carl Soderberg left the Colorado Avalanche in 2019, he had hit a career high of 23 goals, fifth in points on a team that had come within grasp, but failed to make the Conference Finals.
Two years later, the Avs have still failed to make that leap, but after returning to the Avs at the trade deadline — one that saw the Avs snag backup Devan Dubnyk and bring back Patrick Nemeth — Soderberg won’t be shied away from helping them do that.
In the last 7 games, Soderberg has put up 2 assists, playing on the side of the struggling Nazem Kadri in a hope that the former producer can get the centre out of his slump. The experiment hasn’t worked yet, as Kadri — currently 8th in scoring — hasn’t put up a point in nearly a month.
Still, Soderberg brings a lot to the table with 7 games to go.
The Penalty Kill
Soderberg, with his big body, has always been one of the mainstays of the penalty kill.
Although past his prime, at 35 he still played a part stepping in for Kirby Dach with the Chicago Blackhawks, putting up 0.50 PPG, proving useful as a scorer on the power play.
Meanwhile, their penalty kill got off to a great start in January, but slumped at points the last month. Part of that could be constant injuries, or the absence of PK mainstay Brandon Saad, but Soderberg is great insurance.
For a team currently 10th in PK%, above the league average, it’s a safe pick-up.
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With the Blackhawks, Soderberg ranked third in both FO% and in FOW. He led them for large parts of January and February.
Soderberg put up most of his Chicago points even strength, but aside from his contributions on the scoreclock, his main role was defensive face-offs. Although Soderberg’s face-off percentage has always been a median 50%, he’s won 7/10 in the 7 games he’s played for the Avalanche so far. Expect him to keep being used in the role.
Saad and Kadri have been joined at the hip this season, proving to help each other produce for the Avs’ second line. One is missing.
With the ascension of Tyson Jost to the second line, Kadri has found himself between Soderberg and the clutch Joonas Donskoi. With Saad out due to lower body injuries the past month, a point-getter like Soderberg might get the Avs’ last season hero back to his old ways.
Of course, it goes both ways, as Soderberg — whose only main appearances in the postseason were for the Bruins’ 2014 and Avs’ 2019 runs, only playing two games in the Bruins’ 2013 Stanley Cup Final clinch, Kadri’s post-season prowess could be a great combination with Soderberg, and potentially staying on the third line.
Although the team had to give up two prospects — minor leaguer Josh Dickinson and the recently-drafted Ryder Rolston — Soderberg was a pickup with only upside. Only signed for $1M at 35, the man called Soda might not be the player he used to be, but for an Avs team looking for anything, he can still play a part in getting a longer playoff run.