Haven't posted in a long while, but as with my last one I'm thinking about DEFENSE. Clearly an area of need on this squad. Before I jump into my trade scenario I want to emphasize that I'm excited about Seth Jones. I saw him play live in game six of the Winterhawks' series against the Everett Silvertips (I live in Seattle... good live hockey is hard to come by. Calvin Pickard was a great guy to have on the Thunderbirds though. He should be in burgundy and blue soon) and came away very impressed. He scored a nifty backhand goal after deking through two guys with a third draped on his back on a hard shot to the top shelf after intercepting a clearing attempt at the blue line and played exceptional defense throughout the game. Bringing him to Denver makes a lot of sense; he will make a difference at the NHL level at some point soon.
Still, I can't help but look at the team with an eye toward this year instead of the future
Allaire, Giguere and Roy should be able to maximize Varlamov, he should be looking to prove himself after a shaky year behind an even shakier team defense.
Jamie McGinn- Matt Duchene- P.A. Parenteau
Landeskog- O'Reilly- ??
There's a hole in it! John Mitchell, Steve Downie, David Jones or Paul Stastny could fill it, but Stastny belongs at the faceoff dot, neither Downie nor Mitchell would be top 6 forwards on most of the playoff teams this season (maybe on the Wings, Senators, Capitals or Islanders), and Jones.... Jones. He'll be looking to bounce back in a year with less turmoil.
Cody McLeod- Paul Stastny- Steve Downie
Patrick Bordeleau- John Mitchell- David Jones
I put Mcleod ahead of Jones but Jones should earn third line minutes. His play last year was horrible but if he wants to stay in the NHL he'll have to have a rebound year. It was great to see Bordeleau get a new deal today- he put together a solid season and his heavyweight presence allows McLeod to focus more on being the forechecking, netfront force he can be and less on bringing the pain every shift. This group looks great, although Stastny has shown at the World Championships this year that he can still play top-6 minutes despite his disappointing 2012-13 season.
UFA: Hejduk, Kobasew, Van Der Gulik, Thomas
RFA: Vincour, Palushaj, Connolly, Malone, G.Walker L. Walker
I won't speculate on what happens with this group, but with 12 forwards already signed to one way deals they can't all be back in Denver. Palushaj Kobasew and Vincour seem like they belong in the NHL.
Erik Johnson- ??
Jan Hejda- Tyson Barrie
Ryan Wilson- Shane O'Brien
Hunwick, Zanon, Elliott
Another hole! Could Seth Jones fill it? Maybe, but throwing him in as a top pair player is likely not what the top organizations would do. Hunwick has looked okay playing with Johnson and perhaps under Patrick Roy that pair would work out better than it did for Joe Sacco, but again, that isn't what the top organizations would do. A true number 2 D man for this season would have to come in a trade. There are some free agents from the Monsters (Sullivan, Chouinard, Pock) but barring injuries they probably won't see NHL ice this coming year.
Assuming the organization is not comfortable waiting for Seth Jones to become the top pair defenseman he is likely to be, Roman Josi could be a good player to target. Nashville holds the #4 overall pick and the Predators are open to trading it, making a pick swap with Josi involved a viable deal.
That being said, here's my scenario:
4th overall pick
1st Overall Pick
one of: David Jones/McLeod/Mark Olver/any bottom-6 guy other than stastny or downie
Josi has been playing top pair minutes with the Predators alongside Shea Weber, and put in admirable work despite the team's record. He is an RFA this summer, but a sign and trade deal could be made. The fourth overall pick will likely bring a forward with star potential to the Avs (Drouin/Nichuskin/Barkov) to play alongside either O'Reilly or Stastny, bolstering the top-6 or making the Avs forward group more of a top-9 plus a checking line.
For the Avs this trade kills two birds with one stone, creating a true #1 defensive pair and adding a forward to fill the empty wing slot. Giving up (Seth) Jones would be a tough pill to swallow, but if Josi and Johnson fit well together it could be worth it. The bottom 6 player shipped out would be easily replaced by one of the pending free agents.Also, one of the spare part defensemen would need to be moved or bought out, but that's okay.
Would Nashville do this? If they believe Shea Weber as a partner for Jones would make him viable to play right away, or if the organization is interested in a slight rebuild following last season's disappointment they could. I know nothing of Weber's personality, but his play certainly makes him seem like a guy who could handle bringing Jones along. Can't say the same about Erik Johnson yet.
They may also want Nathan Mackinnon. Nashville has been looking for a number 1 center for as long as the team has been there, and a one two punch of Mackinnon and Filip Forsberg could be very effective.
The bottom six guy the Avs send them probably would have to be David Jones. As bad as he was last year, he's a guy who fits their system and had enough game to earn a big contract. If that contract is too big for them to take on, McLeod would have to be the guy. His style also would mesh well with the Predators group. It may be worth noting that the Predators were successful with Avs castoff Brandon Yip, which could make them more comfortable with adding another bottom-6 Avalanche forward.
Should this trade be made? Hard to say, Josi's good year could be a product of playing with Weber. He definitely doesn't have the upside Jones does, but getting a guy who can play well right now plus a forward with upside could be worth it. A trade seems to be the only way to bring a top pair defenseman to the team next season and that is the biggest need.
Wow that got long. If you read it all there's a free high five waiting for you in Seattle.