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The Grabner trade helps set the market for Blake Comeau

What is a realistic return for Blake Comeau?

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach the NHL trade deadline, we likely aren’t going to see a whole lot of movement from the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are sniffing at a playoff spot, but they won’t be (or definitely shouldn't be) buyers. This is a young team that has exceeded expectations and is still building for the future. They are a lot more likely to be sellers in the next few days - the problem is that they don’t have a whole lot to sell.

One of the few players that the Avalanche have to sell is Blake Comeau. The 32-year old winger is an unrestricted free agent this summer and is the type of rental player that GMs love to add at the deadline. He is a veteran that plays a hard-checking game and can kill penalties - the type of guy a coach would love to add to his lineup for the playoffs.

With only a few days to go before the deadline, it was hard to gauge the market for Comeau. He is likely seen as a backup plan for many teams and a someone that would be moved after a few other dominoes fell.

The first one fell last night when the New York Rangers traded Michael Grabner to the New Jersey Devils. In return, the Rangers acquired a 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft as well as B-level prospect Yegor Rykov. Seeing that return for Grabner gives us a much better idea of what we can expect the Avalanche to get for Comeau.

Grabner plays a different style of game than Comeau, but he fills a somewhat similar role. He is a rental that is a top-unit penalty-kill winger, the difference is that he’s faster and will add a little more scoring depth. The 25 goals he has with the Rangers this season likely inflated his value a little, but Comeau is definitely going to be looked at as a plan B teams that missed out on Grabner.

Comeau leads all Avalanche forwards 2:43 of shorthanded ice time per game. He has 10 goals and 22 points on the season as is the prototypical “veteran leadership” guy teams talk about at the deadline. While they’re both great penalty killers, Comeau plays a slower, more physical game than Grabner and as silly as it sounds, there are coaches around the league that would prefer to add Comeau’s “heavy” play to their lineup. The fact that his cap his is only 23 of Grabner’s might also make him a little more appealing for a playoff team that is right up against the salary cap.

If Grabner is worth a second and a prospect, it’s safe to assume that Comeau could bring back a 3rd round pick - at the very least. There are Avalanche fans who will argue the team should hold on to Comeau for a push towards the playoffs but if Joe Sakic can turn a pending UFA depth winger into a 3rd round pick - or better - he absolutely has to do it.