Well, the first piece has fallen. The Avalanche traded a forward to the Nashville Predators, but his name wasn’t Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene, as was heavily speculated by the media. It was Cody McLeod—the longest-serving player in Burgundy & Blue.
The undrafted McLeod worked his way up from an AHL contract in 2004-05, playing 149 games for the Lowell Lock Monsters (and their ECHL affiliate San Diego Gulls), the Albany River Rats and eventually the Lake Erie Monsters before getting a shot with the Colorado Avalanche. He has been in regular rotation with the team since the 2007-08 season, a career that has spanned parts of ten seasons and 659 games. This year, McLeod has registered just one point, a goal on New Year’s Eve against the New York Rangers.
McLeod at first inspired some hope he could provide some secondary scoring, putting up 15 goals in ‘08-09, before resigning to a more focused role of face-puncher/retaliator/enforcer. Though this particular brand of NHL hockey player is going the way of the dodo, given the post-career difficulties experienced by many of these players, it’s important we acknowledge the physical sacrifices McLeod made for Avalanche fans and his teammates. He was also a favorite personality during Avalanche charitable events. As fierce and mean as he could be on the ice, his humor and warm demeanor was a favorite among our community during hospital visits and toy drives.
In exchange, Nashville will send Felix Girard, a 5’11” 22-year-old center, now in his third season with AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Girard was a 95th overall draft selection of the Predators in 2013 after playing four seasons with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL (for current Rampage coach Eric Veilleux). He has just eight points (3g, 5a) in 35 games so far this season. He will likely report to the San Antonio Rampage, providing much-needed center depth.
As part of the deal, Colorado will also retain 40 percent of Cody McLeod’s $1.3M AAV contract for this season and 2017-18—roughly a $533,333 per according to Cap Friendly. Girard’s contract for 2016-17 is $631,667 and will become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.