Did trades for Casey Mittelstadt and Sean Walker make the Colorado Avalanche the West’s best team?

Casey Mittelstadt and Sean Walker just found new homes with the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference, and wow, what an epic pair of trades.
Feb 29, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (37) controls the puck
Feb 29, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (37) controls the puck / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Casey Mittelstadt just found a new home in Denver, and the Colorado Avalanche just received a sensational talent in the former first-round pick. Mittelstadt struggled to gain traction as a member of the Buffalo Sabres during his early years with the team, but his previous two campaigns have been stellar, so expect that trend to continue in Colorado. 

So far in 2023-24, Mittelstadt has 47 points and 14 goals in 62 games and has established himself as one of the league’s better passing centers. At the time of the trade, Mittelstadt led the Sabres in points, and he has shown off durability, not missing a single game since the 2022-23 season began, good for 144 straight appearances.

If the Avalanche put Mittelstadt onto the middle-six and let him continue the same role he had in Buffalo, expect him to produce even more now that he’s part of a scoring unit that is first in goals scored with 232 as of Wednesday, March 6th. 

Colorado Avalanche will be tough to beat with Mittelstadt and Walker

Casey Mittelstadt wasn’t the only player the Avalanche had their eye on, as the Philadelphia Flyers sent defenseman Sean Walker to Denver. Walker, who played a huge role in the Flyers turnaround this season, also found himself in an unfavorable contract situation, meaning the organization that surprised many was likely going to trade him anyway. 

Like Mittelstadt, if Walker keeps playing the same way in Denver that he has in Philadelphia, then the Avalanche could ultimately win the trade deadline season. Walker’s been exceptional regardless of which zone he’s playing in, and his expected plus-minus of plus-13.9 is far and away his best since the 2018-19 season. 

He’s been great when the Flyers are shorthanded, so don’t be surprised if he helps parlay the Avalanche’s already effective penalty kill unit into enjoying an even better success rate. He’s moved the puck well at 5-on-5 and even strength, and his respective 53.6 and 54.2 Corsi For Percentage at even strength and 5-on-5 are his best since 2019-20. 

Overall, Colorado landed a pair of sensational talents who were among the most productive players on their respective teams. That said, don’t be surprised if the Avalanche go on a tear for the final month of the season, and become serious contenders to win the Central Division. 


(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)