Andreas Martinsen was an intriguing European signing. He was a big dude who could skate a little bit, finish the occasional close-distance scoring attempt and absolutely waste opponents along the boards when presented the opportunity. But he wasn’t an everyday NHL-quality player—both the analytics and eyeball test easily drew this conclusion. That’s why it was so shocking general manager Joe Sakic was able to trade him at the 2017 deadline for Sven Andrighetto, a player who actually looks the part and possesses a fair amount of data to back it up.
Andrighetto, a 5’9” 180 pound right wing, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft from the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL where he had scored 98 points over 56 games the year prior. Over the next couple of years, he would bounce between the Habs’ AHL affiliates and the big club, never quite receiving enough consistent playing time to make his mark. Eventually Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin deemed him undersized and ill-fit to help a marginal Montreal squad go deep into the playoffs. Impending RFA Andreas Martinsen was evidently the solution to this problem and Andrighetto sent to Denver in a straight up trade.
Boy was that a boon for Colorado, who benefited from a near point-per-game performance for much of that final 19-game stretch. Was it a bunch of lucky secondary assists? Nope. He was scoring goals when much of the team had packed it in for the year, and he was single-handedly setting up fantastic opportunities for guys who hadn’t received a great pass in months. Where did this guy come from? Why was a guy who could hardly get off the bench in Montreal suddenly an effective Top-6 contributor for a poor Avalanche team?
Well, a lot of available data at the time suggested he absolutely could be that type of player. In not a lot of playing time, his play was yielding possession metrics better than that of a typical NHL third-line winger, middle-six depth the organization was sorely lacking. And it wasn’t due to playing on strong possession lines with the Canadiens either. His strong play continued, even on Colorado’s top lines.
So what do the Avalanche have in Sven Andrighetto moving forward? Well, ideally a third-line right wing. The Avalanche want to move on from the big, bruising bottom-six mold implemented by former coach Patrick Roy in lieu of better skating and more skill and Andrighetto fits that role perfectly. The problem is this team is still not good and very young. A lot of forwards that could be playing top-six right wing next year probably shouldn’t be and Andrighetto, at his age and experience, is likely to get the nod early on. Is he overmatched in this role? Probably, but not by much. Remember: this position was occupied by players like Rene Bourque for much of last season. Big Bad Sven is certainly an improvement there and isn’t likely to be a major drag if he starts 40 or so games with that group. After receiving a two-year bridge extension this summer from the Avalanche, they’re betting he can be that guy too.
And at 24-years-old, he’s certainly one of the organization’s Top 25 players under 25.