Top 3 reasons Colorado Avalanche won the NHL Trade Deadline

The Colorado Avalanche were aggressive at the deadline. They improved in key areas and added clarity for a roster ready to win now.

Feb 17, 2024; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA;  Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (37) scores a
Feb 17, 2024; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (37) scores a / Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
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The Colorado Avalanche entered NHL Deadline week with a clear vision of how to improve the roster. This is in part because some of their most pressing issues have been evident for the majority of the regular season. One of their bigger signings in the off-season, forward Ryan Johansen, was unfortunately a bust. However, the Avalanche front office thankfully understood the mistake and worked to rectify it. Where other teams stood their ground and hoped for a turn-around come playoff time, Colorado found a way out. They were also gutsy in finding RyJo's replacement - pulling off the boldest one-for-one deal of trade season.

The Avalanche also took steps to improve depth with particular attention to special teams. With the return for the aforementioned Johansen and some bottom-six depth secured later on they beefed up the potential PK unit. The immediate benefit is obvious as playoff hockey gets tougher both stylistically and literally. The Avs managed to get more physically imposing in a way that should translate well to the post-season.

Finally, in net, Colorado made a statement by not pulling the trigger on a move for a more experienced backup. The wisdom of this may be up for debate - but in realistic terms, it settles the question internally. Now that the deadline has passed, it should draw the collective mission into clearer focus.

The Avalanche were more active than they have been in previous years. Now, let's take a look at what it all means in closer detail.

The answer at 2C: Casey Mittelstadt

The Avalanche have been starved for stability at the second-line center position for far too long. As was pointed out in the trade grading piece here at MHS. Colorado has been searching for an answer since Nazem Kadri left in free agency in 2021. While the Avalanche top-line is arguably the most potent in the NHL team structure just below that can be even more important in relation to overall success.

To be completely honest I was previously pretty down on most of the options that were floated as potential Avalanche targets. While a guy like Adam Henrique would have made sense from a stats angle, the 34-year-old who makes 5.5 million was always going to be a tough sell as a long-term solution. Likewise, the rumoured interest in bringing back Alex Kerfoot left me skeptical. I like the guy personally but re-treads in the league are re-treads for a reason.

Casey Mittelstadt is younger and more affordable to Colorado than Henrique. He is also more than a feel-good reunion story. His 47 points led Buffalo statistically and showed he was ready to break out. That he will now get a chance to do so playing the most high-stakes hockey of his career should be massively motivating.

CMitts has great hands, earning him excited praise from Coach Bednar. He plays smooth and passes extremely well. Mittelstadt is a play-making facilitator who should be a ton of fun to watch alongside wingers like Big Val, Lehky and Drouin (whoever doesn't end up slotting in with the top-line).

Stability at 2C isn't just about more scoring. It should create a trickle-down effect for the other two lines as well. With the frustrating misfit of RyJo, the Avalanche were in a tough spot of shuffling different combinations of lines for months. The Roaring 20's line held down second line duty admirably for a bit - but they were always better suited to a third-line role. Now with LOC out for the year, the point is moot. Still, however Colorado has to configure the lineup it will be easier to fine-tune.