It's that time of year again. The trade deadline is almost upon us. GM's phones are buzzing constantly and fans wait with bated breath to see who they will be welcoming and saying good-bye to in the next few days.
Let me go on the record as saying that I personally don't think the Avs are going to do too much this year. With the CBA almost up and 16 of our 24-man roster looking for extensions, I don't think we'll see any big blockbusters like we did last season. Even though that seems slightly counter-intuitive, we don't have the gaping holes in our roster that we did last year. There are still a lot of battles for spots going on right now, and unless Sherman is 100% sure that a player has no future with the organization, I think he'll just sit on his hands and see how the rest of the season plays out before shaking things up this summer.
But knowing this team, assuming that they'll be quiet almost guarantees something's going down before Monday, February 27 at 3:00PM EST.
Either way, deadline speculation is fun and entertaining. The "what-ifs" are endless, and it gives us something to talk about on non-game days.
Coming up to the deadline, teams are generally considered either buyers or sellers. I'd say the Avs are likely to be both this year, but they'll probably be more interested in selling than buying. However, there are plenty of areas that the team could realistically decide to change up over the next few days. I'll break them down after the jump.
Goalie Prospects: We have 8 goalies in the system right now. Because even I got confused when trying to type up paragraphs about them, I've included a chart that should help.
|Millan||Keiran||Rights Expire||NCAA||Boston U.||24||2.44||0.925||3|
|Patterson||Kent||Rights Expire||NCAA||U. of Minnesota||29||2.04||0.918||6|
|Aittokallio||Sami||Rights Expire||SM-liiga||Ilves Tampere||9||2.78||0.910||0|
Pickard, Patterson, and Millan are all in their final years of eligibility. Even if Trevor Cann walks and Aittokallio stays in Europe, we will still have 4 extremely talented young goalies competing for 2 AHL positions. Desjardins is often injured, but puts up the best numbers of the group. Pickard just became the WHL leader in saves this season. Patterson starts for the #2 team in the nation and set a school record for the most shutouts earlier this year, and Millan starts for the #1 ranked team.
Since NHL teams only have 50 contracts, we can't afford to use 7-8 on goalies. However, letting these outstanding prospects go for nothing would be a terrible mistake. My guess is that someone's rights get traded at the deadline.
Defensemen: While we will probably have to move a goalie or two, we can afford to keep our depth on the blueline. However, we currently have 10 players/prospects that are NHL-ready and room for only 6 (maybe 7) of them with the Avs.
That's quite the logjam of good, young players with more on the way (such as Siemens in a few years). Because of this, defensemen are by far the Avs best bargaining chip. Since it's our strongest organizational position, we can afford to trade away some of our better players without shooting ourselves in the foot.
Erik Johnson is about the only untouchable. Sherman paid a lot for the former first overall last year - trading him away so soon would reflect VERY badly on that blockbuster trade. It's also doubtful that he'd move the young players either (Barrie, Elliott and Gaunce) since they are so early in their development that their true potential remains unclear.
This means that Quincey, Wilson, O'Brien, Hejda and O'Byrne could be on the market. Hunwick almost certainly is. The majority of these players would be great 2nd pairing defensemen on just about any team in the league, and Quincey and Wilson might even be good enough for the first pair with the right club.
Do I want to see any of our blueliners moved? Besides Hunwick, no, not really. But since you have to give up something good to get something good in return, trading a defenseman would do the least amount of damage to our team's overall talent.
Top 6 Winger:
It looks like a good group on paper, but unfortunately Hejduk, Jones, Mueller and Hishon are still major question marks for various reasons. Hejduk's slowing down and could retire soon, Jones looks out of place in our new puck-possession system, Mueller's not been back from his concussion long enough for me to completely rule out another setback, and it's unclear when (or even if) Hishon will resume skating after his concussion.
Add in the fact Matt Duchene is still out with an knee injury, and it's easily the place where our team needs the most help.
Ideally, what this team needs is another high-scoring power forward. Both Jones and Hishon could fit the bill, but neither of them seem like good long-term solutions right now.
Parise would of course be the perfect fit since he's good defensively, amazing offensively, a strong leader, and has a known chemistry with Stastny from their time on Team USA. The only downside is that everybody else thinks he'd be a perfect fit for their team too. If he does hit the market, either trade or UFA, he's going to be extremely pricey. He'd certainly help us in the short term, but the long-term implications of any move that would allow us to be the highest bidder could easily be pretty nasty.
If Sherman does make a move for a Top 6 winger, expect it to be more along the lines of a reclamation project a la Mueller and Fleischmann. Honestly, Chris Stewart could be a strong candidate. It would be a pretty crazy turn of events, but I think we're more likely to end up with CGDS back in a unipron than seeing Parise moving to Denver.
#2 Defenseman: Erik Johnson has buckets of potential and is our proclaimed #1 Franchise Defenseman. However, he is only 23 and still makes quite a few mistakes, especially when he doesn't trust his D-partner. If we were looking to upgrade our blueline, the first priority would be finding him a solid long-term partner, preferably someone in their late-20's early-30's has quite a bit of NHL experience that a 2-way player like EJ would feel comfortable with.
Ryan Suter is a big name that has been floating around the rumor mills a lot lately that would instantly make this team better. Since there are quite a few similarities between EJ and Weber's style of play, I think that someone like Suter would be the perfect partner for Johnson. However, just like Parise, the risk of over payment to bring in Suter would be extremely high.
Unfortunately, franchise blueliners are extremely difficult to come by. And unlike last year, the Avs aren't in desperate need of help on the back end. They may make a move to upgrade, but my bet would be that they end up defenseman sellers rather than buyers.
First Round Draft Pick: Who doesn't like those? The Avs traded theirs to Washington this year and probably wouldn't mind getting a replacement.