Of the 20 people who donned a unipron for Saturday's 317th consecutive loss, a grand total of 12 were in the lineup on opening night, and that number includes Mark Olver, who has spent the bulk of the season in Lake Erie this year. As we discussed here on Friday, Avalanche GM Greg Sherman has made some bold moves this season, reshaping large chunks of the roster. In that same article, we suggest that we don't think Sherman is done.
Currently, the Avalanche have a grand total of two - or, arguably, three - healthy, bonafide top-6 forwards on the roster. That would be Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk and, if you want, David Jones. After those three, the active forward with the highest number of points is Brandon Yip, with a whopping 19 points. Fail. Yes, the Avalanche have some very talented players on the shelf in Matt Duchene, Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann. But, even if Mueller or Fleischmann were healthy, they have yet to prove consistency over the long haul; in 9 combined seasons, they have a grand total of two 40-point seasons between them.
The Avalanche had to part with Chris Stewart to get Erik Johnson, but that move leaves the Avalanche even more thin up front than they were. Actually, the Avalanche have a lot of good young forwards, but a ton of guys - Yip, O'Reilly, Galiardi, Stoa, Olver, Porter, etc - have yet to show that they can play consistently on the top two lines. In the system, the Avalanche have Joey Hishon and...well, in the system the Avalanche have Joey Hishon. And if Milan Hejduk were to retire this year, the Avalanche would be looking at Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and a whole bunch of question marks.
That's why we think the Avalanche still have moves to make before the closing horn sounds at the February 28th deadline. The consensus here among the crack MHH writing staff is that Matt Duchene is the only untouchable forward on the roster. Here's our thoughts on the other players we suspect may be changing zip codes soon. We did this roundtable style, with myself, Sandie and Beachie weighing in.
#26 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
Dec 27, 1985
|2010 - Paul Stastny||57||17||28||45||-6||40||3||1||2||137|
DDC: Blasphemy? I know that no one's favorite commenter suggested the other day that Stastny will be moved to make way for Joey Hishon. I don't buy that, but I do know that the Avalanche have depth among centers but are thin on the wing. Stastny also has a $6.6 million annual salary, not an insignificant number for this cheapskate franchise. Bottom line, though, is that Stastny is the team's best tradeable asset. If he's moved, the return will be significant (or we might have to shut down this blog due to the outrage). Odds are, Stastny is staying and the Avs will continue to have that solid 1-2-3 punch up the middle. But, I no longer consider Stastny to be completely off the table.
#23 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche
Feb 14, 1976
|2010 - Milan Hejduk||52||17||28||45||-13||16||7||0||2||124|
DDC: For all the speculation about Hejduk's future, we don't really know what his plans are. We know that he's made comments in the past that make us think he doesn't have interest in overstaying his welcome in the league. And we know that he loves living in Denver and has a NTC. Hejduk controls his destiny at the deadline. No doubt, he's already had a discussion with the front office about his intentions next year. IF this is his final year, might he consider a rental move to a team like Pittsburgh for one last run? We'll know soon.
#54 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche
Aug 10, 1984
|2010 - David Jones||19||13||32||1||24|
Sandie: I don't want him gone. I'll say it again, I don't want him to be traded, but like Yip, his stock has never been higher. Having proved that he can remain healthy for a significant period of time if the Avs find the right buyer and the right return, he'll be gone.
#12 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
Mar 12, 1986
|2010 - Kevin Porter||51||10||8||18||-3||16||1||0||3||69|
Beachie: I love the guy and really don’t want to see him go, but with the McClement pick up, there’s an even bigger surplus on the bottom two lines once everyone is healthy. Additionally, Porter is much like Galiardi as he can jump on any line in any position and be serviceable. Since the team already has a Galiardi-type player in, you know, Galiardi, Porter can be sacrificed. His versatility will be attractive to teams in the playoff push because, as injuries pile up, forwards who can slip into various roles to fill in for missing pieces have value. And since Porter’s been playing well, his rate-of-return is high right now.
#37 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
Feb 07, 1991
|2010 - Ryan O`Reilly||51||5||11||16||2||8||0||1||0||87|
DDC: O'Reilly is on our radar (sorry) because he so far has only shown one facet to his game. As expected, O'Reilly is a poised defensive player already. Unfortunately, the other half of his game - scoring - hasn't materialized. There's nothing wrong with being a defensive-specialist, but the Avs' offensive struggles combined with the number of other capable defensive forwards on the team might make O'Reilly expendable, especially if there's a team looking to bloster their defense for a Cup run. I don't think it will happen, don't want it to happen...but the acquisition of Jay McClement got the spider senses tingling a little bit.
#29 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
Apr 13, 1987
|2010 - Ryan Stoa||7||2||0||2||-3||4||0||0||1||21|
Sandie: It'll depend what they can get for him, but the Avs might include him in a trade.
#55 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche
Jun 26, 1984
|2010 - Cody McLeod||48||4||2||6||-3||133||1||0||0||47|
Beachie: We love him, and the team needs him (or at least, his type of player). However, going into the playoffs, there are teams out there who will want someone like McLeod on their roster, and they’ll be willing to give up some reasonable assets in return. Though we would need another fighter, we don’t need to look much further than Lake Erie to get one: 6’6" 225-lb Patrick Bordeleau. Though he can’t play with the Avs this year (not signed yet), the Bordello of Blood would be available - and in my opinion, ready - to hit the roster next season. He can fight, he can hit, and he can put up numbers similar to McLeod’s. I could see McLeod packaged with someone like Porter and/or some prospects to get a strong power forward who can skate and score since that’s something the team hasn’t had in ages. Wait, I feel like I’m forgetting something...
#18 / Right Wing / Colorado Avalanche
Apr 25, 1985
|2010 - Brandon Yip||51||9||10||19||-11||42||3||0||1||99|
Beachie: Yip and Cumiksey are guys that I think the Avs wanted to let go, but because of injuries, poor play and contract situations, it’s just not going to happen this year. Yip’s contract - combined with the necessity injuries have created - means he’s likely not going anywhere until the off-season at the earliest. It’s too bad, too, because he’s been playing better of late, giving him more stock than he had when the forward corps wasn’t so banged up, and he could have been peddled. [Ed's note: we're running the defensemen and goalies in part 2 later today).
Sandie: I admit it, I'm superstitious. When he took number 18, I thought "Oh Crap, there goes Yip". He started out shaky, but his value is very high right now and the he could net the Avalanche a significant return.
DDC: I love Sandie, but do not share her high opinion. I think Yip has been a big disappointment. He apparently has neither the offensive pop to play on the upper lines nor the tenacity and drive to play on the lower lines. I think his trade value is next to nil, which is too bad because I bet the Avs would love to find a taker for him.
#34 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
Mar 06, 1985
|2010 - Daniel Winnik||8||10||18||0||31|
Sandie: Please, no? Please?
So, there's our take. Bottom line: we think any healthy forward is fair game. What will really happen? Check back here on the 28th to find out.