Since the start of the 2010-2011 season, Avalanche GM Greg Sherman has made 8 separate deals, bringing in players like Erik Johnson, Semyon Varlamov and Ryan O'Byrne. Which one was his best and which was his worst deal?
We'll start with the best deals first, which was overwhelmingly slanted toward Ryan O'Byrne
David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: I liked several of the deals Sherman made last year, but my favorite so far is the trade of Michael Bournival for Ryan O'Byrne. Although the squad is much bigger on the back-end now, at the time of the trade O'Byrne brought some much needed size and feistiness on the blueline for what seems like a very reasonable price.
Stephen Crociata, Mile High Sticking and SBNation New York: I believe the best move Sherman has made in his short tenure is the deal for Ryan O'Byrne. He was able to get O'Byrne for one prospect, Michael Bournival, who the Avalanche didn't view as an impact prospect.
Norbert from Austria, Eurolanche: The things we had to give up for O'Byrne make this deal definitely the best one, as Ryan is eating up quality minutes.
Sean Payton, Anyone But Detroit: Bournival for O'Byrne. We won't know how this trade really looks until Bournival develops, but O'Byrne was brought in to fill a team need (defensive size) and he did that and was re-signed.
Mike @ MHH, Mile High Hockey: I liked the ROB deal at the time and still do.
Angélique Murray, Colorado Avalanche Prospects, Mile High Hockey & Chicks Who Give A Puck: While I like Michael Bournival as a prospect, the fact is the Avs already have similar players to him within their farm system. What the Avs needed to add was size to their defense. O'Bryne proved to be a solid contributor.
Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice: Picking his best move is a bit difficult because for me, but I guess I'll say brining in O'Byrne. We didn't give up much and he stepped in and played an important part in our defensive corps for the remainder of the season.
Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild: You can argue that two picks for Semyon Varlamov's rights was a risky move but either way it was worth shedding Peter Budaj and Brian Elliott and planning for the long term goaltending future. Therefore Varlamov could turn out to be Sherman's greatest move. I would be one to make that argument but, seeing as how he hasn't suited up in Colorado just yet, I'll say Ryan O'Byrne was a pretty smart move. Seeing as how Tomas Fleischmann, who had a million points in just a handful of games last season, couldn't sustain an ongoing relationship here with his lingering health problems, O'Byrne is easily one of the smartest trades. He is big, tall, strong, smart, and young(ish). Listed as 6'5" and weighing in at 234 pounds, O'Byrne fits into the Avs new defensive mantra: bigger and stronger. Last season was O'Byrne's longest in the NHL and he will be looking to not only improve but to shoulder the leadership responsibilities as well.
Another popular one was the acquisition of Tomas Fleischmann. I imagine this move would have gotten more votes if the Avalanche had decided to keep Flash around this summer.
Adrian Dater, Denver Post: Tomas Fleischmann for Scott Hannan. Too bad for Sherman and the Avs they only got 22 games out of Flash. Who knows what might have happened had he stayed healthy? But for an old, slow D-man making a lot of money, he got 21 points in those 22 games from Flash.
Austin Snow, Avs Chill Zone: Although it's a moot point now, I think the Fleischmann trade was Sherman's best. It was a solid hockey trade, player for player, which worked wonders for the Avalanche. It's ironic that neither player is still on the team they were traded to, but one can only imagine what the Avalanche roster would look like had Flash stayed healthy. Perhaps the Stewart trade wouldn't have gone down, or perhaps the team would have been more successful down the stretch and he would likely have signed a multi-year deal.
Brett Shumway, Mile High Hockey: My favorite deal was Hannan for Fleischmann. I never thought Hannan was worth the price tag, and Flash was an instant upgrade and timely reminder of the value of highly skilled wings.
And, of course, the Erik Johnson trade ranked right up there as well (even though we learned on Monday that so many of us are missing Chris Stewart).
Cheryl Bradley, Mile High Hockey & Avalanche Breakaway: Although the trade's price was high, Sherman's best deal was acquiring Erik Johnson. With players like Stefan Elliott and Tyson Barrie in the pipeline, the team could afford to lose Kevin Shattenkirk despite the fact he's set to become one of the best defensemen in the league. Chris Stewart will continue to be a top-line power forward, but that kind of player is easier to find than a cornerstone defenseman.
Johnson brings all of the things the Avalanche seems to covet: top-level skill, strong leadership, youth, and solid work ethic. There are those out there who are proclaiming that the young defenseman is a draft bust; however, they seem to forget that he's only had one bad season offensively (2010-2011). He also began to turn that around when he joined the Avalanche, upping his PPG production to nearly 0.50. It should not be a shock to anyone next season when he shows why he was drafted first overall. Johnson will be the rock of the Avalanche defense for many years.
Matt Muzia, SBN Denver: Best deal? Erik Johnson, and not because of the actual talent return. I think it signified a serious shift in the long term direction of the franchise, and the sheer guts required to pull off such a trade still boggles my mind. It was a bold step, and one I heartily applaud.
Aaron Musick, HockeyBuzz: His best deal is Erik Johnson. Brining in a solid top pairing defenseman to anchor the Avalanche for years was brilliant. Johnson is only 23 and entering his prime development stage. The price of Stewart and Shattenkirk was hefty but Johnson was a great piece to add. Include the fact that the Avs also go Duncan Siemens, the absolute perfect fit for the Avalanche, and that is a trade that both teams win and neither team loses.
AJ Haefele, Mile High Hockey: Going with the Erik Johnson trade. We gave up quite a bit but if you look at it the pieces we already gave up have already been (theoretically) replaced. The big power forward in Stewart is gone and in his place is Gabriel Landeskog and Shattenkirk was the first of several talented offensive-minded defenders we have coming up through the ranks, led by Stefan Elliott. We got a caliber of defenseman we didn't have on the roster or anywhere in sight in Erik Johnson and just as he's likely to come into his prime, too. Jay McClement makes any PK better and the added bonus of Duncan Siemens makes this trade look like a no-brainer great move. The only one I think could top it is the Varlamov deal.
Semyon Varlamov has yet to make an appearance in an Avalanche unipron, but, not surprisingly he got a lot of mention here. We're going to be looking more closely at the Varlamov trade on Friday, by the way.
David from Slovakia, Eurolanche: The best could be Varlamov´s trade, but only the next season will show if he was worth the first round pick. He could be hero, but also one big disaster.
Mike Chambers, Denver Post: Getting Varlamov (and JS Giguere) might solidify the nets for at least a couple years, and I don't mind getting a young but experienced former No. 1 draft pick (Varlamov) for an 18-year-old No. 1 draft pick who likely won't be NHL-ready for 2-3 years.
Nic Zamora, Avaholics Anonymous: If they pan out, the Johnson and Varlamov deals will hands down be his best deals. You don't win in this league without a number 1 defenseman and a top goaltender.
I'm jealous of Geoff's next answer, because he's right. The best move that Sherman made may have been the move that he didn't make.
Geoff Rosenthal, The Avs Factor: It's hard to judge any of Greg Sherman's activities as Avalanche GM because so much has been left up to chance. Will Erik Johnson blossom into a consistent, rock solid, number one defenseman? Can Semyon Varlamov stay healthy and help the Avs avoid handing the Maple Leafs a top-ten pick? Will Jay McClement do anything noteworthy in the next year? Or ten?
That said, Sherman's best move was the decision to keep #1a center, Paul Stastny. The NHL is a center's league, and it's not a coincidence that the Colorado Avalanche franchise was at its best when they had Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg down the middle (Patrick Roy also helped). Stastny has yet to really shine, but when he does, the Avs will be a force to be reckoned with.
With every GM, there are moves that we love and moves that we don't. Here are the deals we weren't so fond of. Not surprisingly, one deal appears quite often.
Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild: Let's start with his worst decision: Trading Colby Cohen for Matt Hunwick. It is possible that someone in the system said "Hey, this kid isn't going to develop so we should ditch him quick!" but that just seems unlikely. Hunwick has tough shoes to fill this season or he goes down in history as one of the weakest decisions that the franchise has made.
Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice: Picking his worst move is simple. Trading Colby Cohen for Matt Hunwick was incredibly stupid in my opinon. I understand why he did it with the amount of defensive prospects coming up in the system, but I would have liked to see Cohen stick around longer.
Geoff Rosenthal, The Avs Factor: I absolutely despise the Colby Cohen for Matt Hunwick trade. It still makes no sense.
David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: I doubt I'll be alone when I say the worst deal last year was the acquisition of Matt Hunwick (for prospect Colby Cohen). While I think Hunwick is better than he showed us last year, the Avalanche already had a number of players on the roster and in the system with a comparable skillset. Indeed, it's tough to picture where Hunwick will fit in next year. It seems like a dubious move to jettison a prospect like Cohen for a player that didn't really fill a gaping hole.
Cheryl Bradley, Mile High Hockey & Avalanche Breakaway: The worst deal is a little harder to pin down. The obvious answer would be giving up Colby Cohen for Matt Hunwick. When this first happened, I was incredibly angry and thought it was a huge mistake. Since then I've reconsidered. I don't think it was a good trade by any means. However, I'm not convinced Cohen is going to be as good as I originally thought. In the end, I would call it an unnecessary and shortsighted trade. Hunwick does not bring anything to the team, and Cohen's potential is still unknown. I still wonder, however, if there were reasons beyond on-ice performance that sent Colby packin'. Obviously, we'll never know. Regardless, the other deals made - Johnson, O'Byrne, O'Brien, Hejda - make Cohen expendable anyway. I also don't expect Hunwick to be top-6 on the blueline. Worst deal? I guess you could call it that. I'd call it more of a wash.
Mike @ MHH, Mile High Hockey: I think the Hunwick deal was made out of necessity not desire and doesn't look good (depth due to injury was terrible at the time on the blueline and I think they reached a little and overvalued both Hunwick and what the team looked like for the rest of the season.)
Mike Chambers, Denver Post: Didn't like the Colby Cohen for Matt Hunwick trade or the Scott Hannan for Tomas Fleischmann trade, the latter because the blood-clot history was known.
Aaron Musick, HockeyBuzz: Sherman's worst is not Varlamov, as a lot of people were saying. Varlamov has talent and now is driven to prove himself. That's good if you're an Avs fan. Sherman's biggest mistake was Colby Cohen for Matt Hunwick. The only reason that trade went through is because the Avalanche were too close to the cap floor to make the Hannan-for-Fleischmann trade. Cohen is a perfect bottom four defenseman with skill and grit. Hunwick is a small defenseman who commits a lot of turnovers. In no equation does that equat. Now, if Washington gets Nail Yakupov with that pick, that could change but as for value and return, the Hunwick deal is the worst.
AJ Haefele, Mile High Hockey: The worst trade has to be the acquisition of Matt Hunwick. Regardless of how you feel about Colby Cohen's chances to become an NHL regular, this trade never made any sense to me on any level. In terms of size/style, he was redundant to our best d-man last season (Liles) and top prospect moving forward (Elliott) but with far less upside. Hunwick is the only reclamation project that looks like a complete bust right now.
After the Hunwick move, the other most non-popular trade was the Craig Anderson deal.
Austin, Avs Chill Zone: His worst was easily the Anderson deal. Many will say the Hunwick deal, but he may prove to still have some value to him this year. Sherman got NOTHING for Anderson. Sure, he was having a down year, but after the previous season, he should have been able to get something, even a lower draft pick for Andy. I remember that not much was thought of Anderson at the time the trade was made, so I'm sure Sherman's hands were tied. But it's hard not to feel like we just gave Anderson away. Any chance we could have thrown him into a different package to Washington for Varlamov...?
Norbert from Austria, Eurolanche: Craig Anderson for Brian Elliott. Definitely the worst one as Elliott was just a bust. Comparing the numbers of Anderson and Elliott after the trade, it was like a "Gretzky for a bag of pucks" trade. Of course defense plays an important role too when it comes to the numbers of a goalie, but still: this was just a bust.
Jaye Horbay, Mile High Sticking: Even though we don't know the full extent of the situation that evoked the trade, I would have to say the Craig Anderson for Brian Elliott deal was Sherman's worst to date. Yes, Andy was a shell of what he was a season before, and the team was going downhill anyways, but I think that particular trade signaled a ‘fuck it' attitude and the team seemed to take it on the rest of the season. We all know how that turned out.
Brett Shumway, Mile High Hockey: The handling of Craig Anderson was atrocious. I agree that they should have jettisoned him once Andy decided he wanted out, but it never should have gotten to that point. And Liles is worth more than a second rounder. Trade fail.
Adrian Dater, Denver Post: To be determined. It may be a copout, but we just can't judge his biggest deals yet. We need more time to judge the Johnson-Stewart, Varlamov-1st rounder deals still. But if I had to name a deal that's already played out, it's probably the one I named Monday - the Anderson-Elliott deal.
Angélique Murray, Colorado Avalanche Prospects, Mile High Hockey & Chicks Who Give A Puck: I think it's easy to beat up on Greg Sherman for the Matt Hunwick for Colby Cohen trade, but until Cohen is a consistent NHL player, I can't put that transaction in the loss column. It's too early to judge the Johnson and Varlamov trades; though the latter carries greater risk. So excluding those deals, I pick the O'Byrne trade as the best and the Anderson deal as the worst.
Perhaps the most stunning story of the 2010-11 season was the sudden fall from grace for Craig Anderson. I will not profess to know exactly what happened between Anderson and the Avalanche, but clearly something was rotten. Anderson was cast away for a bad Brian Elliott. Perhaps the trade itself wasn't terrible, but the same cannot be said for the deterioration of the relationship between the Avs and Anderson
Matt Muzia, SBN Denver: Worst deal? I know most are going to say Matt Hunwick, but I don't think that was a bad deal at all. Not receiving even a draft pick for Craig Anderson is very disappointing. I know he wanted out of town, but Brian Elliot is simply not a suitable return. Thankfully it's not a long term damaging deal, but I'm still disappointed.
Those two are the clear-cut non-favorites. After that, focus is on the two big deals that we're also listed by others as the best
Derek Bell, Mile High Hockey: I'm not too sure that I can say he has had a clear cut "Best" and "Worst" move. In my mind, there are a couple moves that are questionable at best. While I've always like Varlamov, I still can't help but think he overpaid dearly for him. Of course can this team really put a price tag on stable goaltending for the foreseeable future? I'd say that price is 2 first round picks, especially if the injury bug rears it's all too familiar head.
The second would be the Erik Johnson deal. Not for acquiring him, I think that he will be a tremendous player for a long time to come. I just think bundling Chris "GD" Stewart in there for Jay McClement should have been the deal breaker. If you look at these two deals, in my opinion, it looks like Mr. Sherman has been taken to the woodshed on both deals. Only time will tell if they pay off, but for now, I'm VERY cautiously optimistic they will work out for the best.
Stephen Crociata, Mile High Sticking and SBNation New York: Because of what he gave up I have to go with Varlamov. I believe Varlamov will be great for the Avalanche but Sherman became desperate when he didn't have to be desperate.
And, some love for Johnny Hot Pocket.
David from Slovakia, Eurolanche: Our GM made several questionable trades. It is hard to choose one for the worst or for the best - we will know everything better later in the next season. For now, I hate Lile´s trades for the 2nd round pick. It is nonsense send away our best D-man for nothing
Sean Payton, Anyone But Detroit: I had written a post covering my thoughts on every Greg Sherman trade on July 1st - here are excerpts from that post that answer the question. Worst: Liles for 2nd round (2012). Ok - I know this was a salary dump, but why make the trade when this pick isn't until 2012? Liles could have certainly helped Elliott and Barrie in camp this Sept and Liles return value would have only improved the longer his awful contract ticked down. You've now moved Liles for nothing until June 2012.
Nic mentions a trade that doesn't technically qualify. But it does prove that I'm not the only one still steaming over it. And since Tom Preissing will still count against the cap this year, we'll count it.
Nic Zamora, Avaholics Anonymous: The worst one has been the Ryan Smyth trade. Quincey's play has tailed off since the 1st half of his 1st season in Denver and Tom Preissing was bought out. That said, I am still not ready to dismiss Quincey and still think he can return to form.
We'll wrap things up today with Andi, who, by dodging the question, explains why it's probably too early to look at last year's deals.
Andi D, Mile High Hockey: Most of the trades the Avs made this year weren't intended to pay immediate dividends. Whether we like it or not, the Avs are in the rebuilding phase - they're more concerned with how good a player will be in a few years than they are with his current production. So trying to judge these trades right now is like trying to judge a pear by an apple's qualities. It will get you close, but almost any analysis is going to be inherently inaccurate because the standards are different. We won't truly be able to judge Sherman's ‘10-‘11 moves until AT LEAST the end of '11-12, but they won't become really clear until after that. We, as fans, also have to keep in mind that we don't know the full story either. For example, based on on-ice performance, the Anderson/Elliott trade looks 100% like a bust, but if any of the rumors that Anderson was a locker room cancer are true, then maybe it was a great trade due to subtraction rather than addition. So, to answer the question - I have confidence in Sherman and I think that all of his trades were pretty solid this past season, although I can't pinpoint a best/worst trade as of right now because it's either too early to judge or I don't know the full story. Ask me again next year and I'll give you a more definite answer.
Some very interesting and varied answers (man, I'm such a geek about the roundtable). Tomorrow, we'll turn the focus to the man behind the bench: Skipper Joe Sacco.