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
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next

A strengthened Penalty Kill and tougher attitude

The addition of Sean Walker is a key move in bolstering Colorado's PK. As much as I'm on record as a believer in Bowen Byram, Walker is a defensive upgrade. He is in the midst of a career season in point production, just two points off his best year with 17 games remaining. But the true value of Walker is PK duty. Philly, where he played previously, is currently 2nd in the NHL with a 85.4% success rate.

Walker was a major part of that unit in Philadelphia. The Avalanche, meanwhile, sit in 10th on PK success percentage at 80.8%. Those few percentage points difference won't all be made up by one guy, but even a small improvement could have outsize ramifications.

The PK has been noticeably struggling since the All-Star break. One glaring example of these woes came in the February 24th, home-loss against Toronto. The team dropped that game 3-4, after allowing the Leafs to go 2 for 2 with the man-advantage. While it can be argued that individual games are too small of a sample-size for passing judgement the impact on wins and losses is undeniable.

Looking closely at the one game we have seen with the new additions is encouraging. The Avalanche had a lot of new pieces to integrate, and a returning Valeri Nichushkin. In a game with five lineup changes from the previous tilt, Colorado went 4-for-4 on the PK against the Wild.

The team had a strong defensive game and they needed it to win a nail-biter in OT. A stat that immediately jumped out to me from the box score was Colorado leveling 27 hits. That is well above the per-game average of 20, and may indicate an important shift. 27 hits is the most the Avalanche have recorded in the last 10 games as well. It can go a long way toward getting the squad playoff-ready. In case you were wondering, all of Colorado's new guys got in on the hit parade. Yakov Trenin led the way with 4, Walker added 3, and both Duhaime and Mittlestadt chipped in 1 a piece.

Just as the move at 2C can positively impact the lower lines, help to one half of special teams can conversely assist the other side. That of the all important PP. In giving the Avalanche more bodies like Walker, Trenin and even Duhaime to potentially throw out there on the kill, Colorado can keep stars like Cale Makar fresh and ready to capitalize on the man-advantage.

Valeri Nichushkin only needed one game back to prove how much he specifically helps the Avalanche PP. I suspect that as all the new additions get comfortable they will only do more to show their unique value to team chemistry as a whole.