Even from training camp, the Avalanche defense has been a bit thin. Beyond Hejda and Johnson, the entire corps was viewed as either talented AHL'ers (Benoit, Holden, Guenin), a washed up veteran (Sarich), an oft-injured bottom pairing player (Wilson), or a youngster still adjusting to the league (Barrie). They've done remarkably well in Roy's system, but now that the Avs best defenseman is headed for the IR, our lack of depth is almost certainly about to be exposed.
Trade rumors have been swirling around the Avs for weeks anyway. Even in the Juniors ranks, Roy was known for being very willing to make trades, and the Avs have already seen one this year when Steve Downie flip-flopped with Maxime Talbot. Even with our 19-7-0 record, reports have been coming in on-and-off all season about the team looking to upgrade its blueline, and after Roy publicly expressed disapproval of Jamie McGinn's game, the rumor mill really heated up.
So, let's talk about trades.
What the Avs Are Looking For: Priority 1 is a Top 3 defenseman who can fill in on the top pairing while Hejda is out. We have shortage of defensive-defensemen in the system, so we need someone who can eat big minutes against other team's top lines. Roy's system involves man-to-man defense, so this player must be a decent skater able to keep up with opposing forwards. Roy also asks that blueliners jump into the play in the offensive zone. That doesn't mean this player needs to be a huge scorer, but he does at least have to make smart decisions on both ends of the ice and distribute the puck well.
The Avs could also use a defenseman with a bomb of a shot. Part of the reason our power play is currently struggling is that we don't have anyone who can rocket one off from the point. This skillset would be a very welcome addition.
The third need is for a shut-down 3rd line center. Currently, Paul Stastny is facing off against other team's top lines. If he's moved, we'll need someone with his defensive ability in return, even if it means sacrificing his offense.
Who the Avs Might Be Willing to Trade:
First of all, this is a friendly reminder that ANYONE who suggests trading Gabe Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, or Erik Johnson will be mercilessly mocked for the remainder of this thread. Those 4 are without a doubt the Avs core, and it would be absolutely ridiculous for the team to part with any of them. Sorry, Eklund.
Ryan O`Reilly is still under the league mandated year-long trade freeze after the offer sheet fiasco last season, so he's not able to be moved until February 28th at the earliest. Also, veterans Alex Tanguay and J.S. Giguere have no movement clauses and have made it pretty clear they wish to retire in Colorado.
Paul Stastny and Semyon Varlamov are very long-shots to be traded. Both play incredibly important roles on the team, so we would need someone of similar value in return. Varlamov's court situation also complicates matters, so unless something changes, I doubt other teams are going to want to take on that risk. Stastny is an amazing 2-way forward, but with Duchene and MacKinnon at the center position, there's a bit of a log jam. However, as mentioned above, his defensive contributions could be difficult to replace, so I don't think the Avs can afford to trade him right now unless someone else is brought in to take his place.
So, who does that leave?
P. A. Parenteau is currently tied for 3rd in scoring on the team with 17 points in 26 games. Last season, he was the Avs' leading scorer with 18 goals and 43 points in 48 games. He's a right wing with decent wheels and a good shot, but his ability to pass is his greatest strength. He doesn't hit much, but he has a great sense of the game, especially on offense. He'd be a great fit on any team's 1st or 2nd line.
McGinn is a power forward who often has a nose for the net. He's under-preformed some this year, but has been much better over the past two seasons, notching 19 goals in 64 games. He brings a physical presence and has a talent for finding weak spots around the goalie. He'd be a great fit for most teams on their 2nd or 3rd line, especially if the center is a good passer.
John Mitchell is an extremely versatile bottom six forward. He plays all three positions very well, and brings much needed depth scoring. He does occasionally hold onto the puck too long, but still usually makes good plays on both ends of the ice. He's one of our primary penalty killers. He can fill up to the 2nd line in a pinch, but typically is more effective on the 3rd and 4th.
Cody McLeod is our Alternate Captain and a great locker room presence. Like Mitchell, he's a versatile bottom 6 forward with a surprising scoring touch, but he's also very likely to make big hits and drop the gloves. He's a hard worker on both ends of the ice and rarely hurts his team with mistakes.
On defense, the roster is a bit slim. However, Ryan Wilson might be an interesting trade target. He's struggled to stay healthy in the past few years, but has 2nd pairing upside if he can. His massive hip checks are legendary, his defense is sound, and at 26, he still has room to develop. If he can stay healthy, he'd be a great addition.
We also have a few interesting defensive prospects, and Tyson Barrie heads the list. He's 22 and currently on the Avs roster after spending a mid-season stint down in the AHL. He is an outstanding puck-moving defenseman with decent defensive awareness. He's still adapting to the NHL and is a bit on the small side at 5'10, but his play is reminiscent of Kevin Shattenkirk's at that age. In the long run, Barrie will likely have more defensive upside than even Shattenkirk.
Stefan Elliott is also a 22-year-old puck moving defenseman who is currently the leading defensive scorer on his AHL team. He and Barrie are very similar in many ways, although Elliott has the offensive and size advantage while Barrie is a bit more well-rounded. Both project Top 4 in the NHL.
Calvin Pickard is a goalie prospect who is sound positionally and has NHL starter upside. He's still young at 21, but he's posting a .914 SV% and 2.58 GAA in the AHL right now. His counterpart, Sami Aittokallio, is also 21 and playing for Lake Erie. His style is a bit more athletic and his numbers are a bit lower at .899 SV% and 2.76 GAA, but he too has NHL starter upside. Both are bluechips the Avs would hate to part with, but they could certainly be sweeteners in a deal.
Then there's also the Avs 1st round pick. Given our place in the standing, I don't think the front office would mind parting with it.
Certain names have come up in trade rumors recently. For young defensemen, Dmitry Kulikov from Florida and Dmitry Orlov from Washington may be looking for a change of scenery. I've not seen either play much, but from what I understand, they're both offensive minded with room to grow their defensive game. Jared Cowen, a big shut-down defenseman in Ottawa, was recently scratched and would be an outstanding fit. Likewise, Tyler Myers has struggled in Buffalo and may be available.
Then there's always the veterans. Yandle's name is almost always on the circut, and Pheneuf could be on the move from Toronto if UFA negotiations start to go sour. Nikitia Kikitin would be an incredible upgrade out of Columbus. The Avs and Habs have scouted each other thoroughly this year, so maybe someone like Josh Gorges could be a fit. We also have to remember that Greg Sherman is still around, so the Avs could be targeting someone completely off the radar.
So, what do you think, Avs fans? Is it time to make a trade, and who would you like to see our team pursue?