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How will the trade winds blow?

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According to the handy-dandy widget on the right side of the page, the NHL trade deadline is just two weeks away. The Hurricanes and Senators have started the trade season off with a four-player deal. If previous post-lockout seasons are any indication, that deal is just the tip of a rather large iceberg. And what are the Avalanche up to? I'll be the first one to admit that I don't have the foggiest idea what the team is going to do at the deadline. Like that's going to stop me from talking about it anyway....

For years under Pierre Lacroix, the Avalanche were often aggressive deadline traders. And yet, even though they would go out and get guys like Theo Fleury, Ray Bourque and Rob Blake, they always seemed to be under the radar when it came to pre-deadline trade rumors. You can attribute a lot of that to the Iron Curtain-tight way the Avs protect information, although I think the fact that the Denver is not, to my knowledge, in the east is also a factor.

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Current GM Francois Giguere appears to be a much more of the patient, build from within type. He doesn't come across as the type of guy to trade a heap of prospects to rent Marian Hossa or Mats Sundin for a couple of months. That's not to say, though, that a blockbuster deal would shock me; the Avalanche have accumulated a lot of young talent and at some point you have to move some of those guys. Right?

It's my gut feeling that the Avs won't be big buyers at the deadline, but I think they may do some tweaking of their roster. I could easily see pending-free agent John-Michael Liles involved in a deal, but I suspect we'd only do that if Giguere can get players to help the team now, not future players. This team needs to make the playoffs

For kicks, here's a list of pending free agents for the Avs (according to nhlnumbers.com):

UFA


  • Joe Sakic

  • Andrew Brunette

  • Jaroslav Hlinka

  • Scott Parker

  • John-Michael Liles

  • Kurt Sauer

  • Jeff Finger

  • Jose Theodore


Okay, scratch Joe Sakic off the list. The rest of those players though, I could easily picture being involved in deadline deals, to varying degrees.
Liles is the obvious candidate, as it doesn't sound like he fits into the team's long-term plans (he said recently the team hasn't contacted him about an extension) and, even with his season-long scoring slump, he should be attractive to a team looking to bolster their powerplay (a list about 30 deep).

Theodore, in my mind, is an interesting study. Two months ago, with his fat GAA and fatter salary, he was as untradeable as any player in the NHL. All of a sudden, though, he's playing excellent hockey and, as luck would have it, his strong play has included a few great games against teams who just may be in the hunt for a goalie. With just two months to go on the season, his salary shouldn't as big an issue for a team who wishes to trade for him. The $64,000 question: will the Avs trade him? I don't see it happening, unless the Avs are making a separate deal for a starting goalie (Wouldn't Marty Turco look great in the ugly Avalanche unipron?).

I think it's a possibility that Brunette could be on the move. Although he's having an off year, I bet there's a ton of teams who coud use his creativity behind the net as well as his leadership off the ice. I think someone would have to make Giguere a fairly good offer to get Bruno from us...but it wouldn't completely shock me to see that happen.

It seems like every year we hear some sort of unofficial rumor involving Marek Svatos. It seems like any time there is a player rumored to be on the block, Svatos is going to be the guy we package with a draft pick to get him. I'll say this: if the Avalanche were ever going to trade Svatos, this is the year to do it. His 22 goals has to be attractive to a team looking for offense. At the same time, it's driving up Svatos' contract demands (he'll be an RFA this summer). I love Marek Svatos, but don't feel he is now - or ever will be - a player that the Avalanche form their offense around. Do I expect him to move? Not really...but I bet he'll be dangled out there a bit.

See, I wasn't kidding when I said I didn't have a clue. What do you guys think? Will the Avalanche be making big moves at the deadline or sort of limp along as they did last year?