There once was a time in the land of Denver when getting actual information out of the Avalanche organization was akin to pulling hippo teeth. However, those days seem to be in the past. The new regime of Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy and Co. seem to WANT the fanbase and media to know that they know that we want to know stuff. Line building, prospect evaluation, goal-tending rotation, all have been little nuggets passed down where once we heard naught but the whistling of Colorado winds and accounting calculators.
Roy and Co. have made no bones out of the fact that the early going in this season was going to be an evaluation period for many players. Would specific players fit in with what Joe and Patrick were trying to build? Would the timeline for accountability and success be attributed to guys already on the roster or would tinkering have to be done. Roy has a bit of a reputation for trading based on his tenure in Juniors. The Avs have certainly seen that this young season already as the trade of Steve Downie back to Philadelphia for Maxim Talbot illustrates. The organization had apparently been in protracted tire-kicking talks with Philly regarding Downie and decided that the midst of a historic franchise start was the time to flip a couple of pancakes. Going into the season, or hell just going into the week of the trade, Downie was pretty low on the list of trade-able assets on the team. He seemed to have secured a valuable role on the team and was (for the most part) flourishing in Roy's new system and his linemates. Scuttlebutt being what it is there may have been some off-ice related reasons for his trade, but who knows. My point is that if you took a poll in that room the day before the trade I doubt Downie would have been voted off the island.
Now, along with Adrian Dater's one-man Crusade to break a Paul Stastny trade story, we've heard rumblings about Jamie McGinn possibly being shopped. Stastny has been in this position before as he inherited the "we need to trade this guy" mantle after the departure of John-Michael Liles. We all remember the halcyon days of Hot Pocket's name being bandied about every December thru February and we watched as he kept his chin up and put in work. Basically, he was a professional. He also seemed to visibly relax after the trade deadline and elevate his play, seemingly to justify his continued tenure with the team year after year. Pauly Walnuts has shown his professionalism as well, not catering to the whims of a bloodthirst media or commenting very much about it at all.
To my knowledge Big Meat hasn't cracked under any trade pressure either. But you have to wonder if, combined with the out-of-the-blue trade of Downie, there isn't a feeling of "nobody's safe" in the locker room. While I'm the first to laud this tactic as a method to lift all boats I wonder if it's not having a deleterious effect on the young team. If Downie could be gone and McGinn and/or Stastny could be gone, is it a stretch to think that some other players are wondering if they're next? Or even if they aren't worried about themselves, are they concerned about what the team will look like after such a big trade?
- Could Johnson be staring down the barrel of his 3rd team?
- What about the entire D-Corp after Hejda? Could they be wondering if they'll be celebrating the new year in a new city?
- Could Ryan O`Reilly be wondering if his clock is gonna strike midnight and the only reason he's still an Av is because of the CBA rules?
- Has Semyon Varlamov done enough to endear himself to the new regime?
While I shudder to think of a team that didn't have Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, or Nathan MacKinnon, is anybody truly safe? I think those three are pretty damn safe, but as the backbone of the team, part of them may be wondering if they're gonna have the same kind of team if some of the names above get shipped out. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, but that's a different topic.