On Last week’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada, Chris Johnston mentioned that the NHL’s trade market seems to me more active than it usually is at this time of year. Parity in the league means that teams are going to be looking for any advantage they can. For those who see themselves as contenders, a December trade will have a bigger impact on playoff seeding that a trade in February will.
There is also a market of sellers developing due to the fact that there are so many bad teams at the bottom of the league - Chicago, Los Angeles, Ottawa and a few others know they’re not going anywhere this season. By mid-December, we don’t often see teams readily admitting that their season is over. This year, more than most, we see teams already throwing in the towel.
The other factor driving the sellers in the market is the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are both franchise altering players for whichever teams get lucky at the lottery. Beyond that, guys like Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte, Vasili Podkolzin and Dylan Cozens exist as a very good consolation prize or teams at the bottom of the standings.
With so many teams willing to view themselves as sellers this early in the season, it stands to reason that the trade market would get active.
Now the holiday roster freeze hits tomorrow, so if any of this trade talk is to come to fruition, we will know in a little more then 24 hours.
After an impressive winning streak, the Avalanche have stumbled lately having lost four of their past six games. While they still sit comfortably in a Western conference playoff position, the recent play - and injury to Alexander Kerfoot - has shown a team that lacks depth. This is no surprise to fans in Denver. The top line has been incredible and secondary scoring has been better than expected, but this is a lineup that would definitely get a huge boost from an injection of new blood.
They want to be a true contender in the Central Division, and the addition of a very good middle-six forward - especially one with a right-handed shot - would help the Avalanche achieve that goal. It may be early, and we might not see any new faces until February, but at some point Joe Sakic is almost certainly going to swing a trade. Why not get a leg up on the competition and do it before the roster freeze?
Charlie Coyle - C - Minnesota Wild
According to a number of sources, the Minnesota Wild have been actively shopping the 26-year old center for a while now. Though he’s only a year and a half removed from a 56-point season, Coyle has looks like he has fallen out of favor with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau and is a player that could benefit from a change of scenery.
Coyle would be a very solid buy-low candidate and with another year and $3.2m left on his contract, the Avalanche could easily fit him within their salary structure.
Tyler Toffoli - W - Los Angeles Kings
Another 26-year old with one more season left on his contract, Toffoli is the kind of player Los Angeles is going to be looking to sell in order to re-work a roster that desperately needs a re-build. A one-time 30-goal scorer has seen his production tale off in recent seasons. Even still, Toffoli was able to net 24 goals last year - a total that would have put him ahead of all Avs players outside of the big-three.
Toffoli would look awfully good on a wing with Kerfoot and he would bring another right-handed shot up front - something the Avs only have two of.
Kevin Hayes - C - New York Rangers
Hayes feels more like a trade deadline candidate. The pending UFA is coming off of a 25-goal season and has been among the scoring leaders in New York all season. He’s likely cost a little more than most fans would want to spend, but if you trade for him now, it gives a couple extra months to work on a long term extension for the 26-year old that would solve the 2C issue in Colorado.
There could end up being a bidding way come February so it might be better for a team interested in Hayes to pony up and meet the price right now.
Andreas Athanasiou - F - Detroit Red Wings
Athanasiou is a guy that would fit in perfectly with the style of pay in Colorado. One of the fastest skaters in the league, the 24-year old is having the best season of his career scoring 11 goals so far for a terrible Red Wings team. Though he’s only an RFA when his contract expires after next season, it’s conceivable that Detroit will be looking to move Athanasiou before he is due another raise.
The Red Wings are in the middle of a rebuild while having the highest pay roll in the league, if they are able to move a guy like Athanasiou without taking back an NHL contract, it’s something they would strongly consider.
Wayne Simmonds - W - Philadelphia Flyers
Another pending UFA, Simmonds is a guy that will certainly be on the move from Philadelphia at some point this season. He’s past his prime now, but his play could still be a very valuable addition to the Avalanche. A big body that crates space for his linemates, Simmonds could serve a role on the second line that Gabriel Landeskog does on the first.
Playing Simmonds on the right side with J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost is something that could help boost the production of the two Avalanche youngsters.