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Have the Colorado Avalanche emerged as a contender in the Erik Karlsson Sweepstakes?

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Reports have the Avalanche as a potential suitor for Erik Karlsson

2017 SAP NHL Global Series - Ottawa Senators v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images

With mere hours before the NHL trade deadline, we are getting reports that a new team has emerged in the Erik Karlsson trade sweepstakes - the Colorado Avalanche. Earlier I wrote about how the Avalanche could benefit from helping facilitate a Karlsson trade to a contender, now it looks like they might be thinking bigger than that.

This evening, Jonathan Davis of SiriusXM NHL has thrown out the Avalanche as a potential trade destination for Karlsson - along with Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan. Though Davis has no ties to Colorado, the report was later corroborated by BSN’s AJ Haefele.

At first glance, the Colorado Avalanche might seem like an odd fit for the former Norris Trophy winner but taking a step back, the move might make a lot of sense. Of all the teams in the NHL, the Avalanche likely own the asset that the Ottawa Senators most covet - their own first-round draft pick.

Thanks to the Matt Duchene trade, the Senators owe Colorado a first-round selection either this year or next. With the Senators in full tear-down mode, that is going to be an incredibly high pick regardless of which year the Sens choose.

If Joe Sakic is willing to put together a package involving Ottawa’s own 1st, things could get very interesting.

The wrinkle in all this is Ottawa’s desire to attach Bobby Ryan’s albatross of a contract to any Karlsson trade. When healthy, Ryan is a decent middle-6 scoring right winger, something the Avalanche could really use. The problem is that he is getting paid a ridiculous $7.25m for the next four years.

It’s a horrendous contract, but if there is a team out there that can afford to take it on, it’s the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have a ton of cap flexibility going forward and are in no danger of getting near the cap in any of the next three or four years.

What would it cost?

Even with Bobby Ryan attached, an Erik Karlsson trade would not be cheap. The assumption is that Ottawa would want their first round pick back. From there you’d have to add a few cheap, young assets. You’d likely be able to throw in a contract to counter some of the salary the Avs would be taking on.

A trade would likely look something like this:

To Colorado: Erik Karlsson + Bobby Ryan

To Ottawa: 1st rounder (OTT) + Cale Makar + Chris Bigras + J.T. Compher + Colin Wilson

It’s a hefty price, but we are talking about one of the top-3 defensemen in the NHL. Erik Karlsson is absolutely worth it.

The added risk is that Karlsson only has one more year left on his contract. If the Avalanche think they have a legitimate chance of signing the superstar to an extension this summer, a big trade would definitely be worth the risk.

This all seems unlikely, but Joe Sakic has surprised us before and we know these two teams obviously aren’t afraid to hook up for blockbuster trades.