As we move into mid-July, NHL teams are going to start moving into vacation mode. The Colorado have done a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to re-shaping the roster, now it’s just a matter of getting their RFA re-signed.
With Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher still needing new contracts, there is still some work to be done, but for now let’s unpack the Avs’ offseason so far.
First and foremost how do you feel about the Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot for Nazem Kadri and Calle Rosen trade? Was it the right move and did the Colorado Avalanche get enough value in return?
Luke: As it was happening a big part of me was very sad and angry that he was gone, especially to Toronto (he better not become the new defensemen whipping boy ) 24 hrs later, I was very excited about it. Getting Kadri solidified the 2C position, which needed to happen, and getting him on a 3 year deal at $4.5m is amazing value. Calle Rosen looks like guy ready to take the next step and I believe will surprise people. Losing Kerfoot stings. Even though I felt he was a guy they just couldn't find a regular spot for in the top 9, his 40 points will be missed. I think this was a solid trade for both parties. Both sides had something the other wanted and they made the trade. Good value on both sides.
Jackie: I’m glad Sakic knew when to pull the trigger on a deal given I never believed the Avalanche were going to extend Barrie. I hate to see Kerfoot go but understand the deal likely doesn’t happen without him in it. Seems like Sakic could have pushed for a better pick and prospect in return but it wasn’t worth the risk of the deal falling apart. I’m excited to see how Kadri fits into the team and I’m happy with the move overall.
Chris: Tyson was (is) my wife’s favorite player so she was sad to see him go. But I explained to her the logistics of why he went. It didn’t make it any better on her understanding it but in doing so I talked myself into liking the move in the end. Amazing how in a pretty short amount of time the Avs went from a team plugging in defensive players wherever they could to having a gluttony of riches at the position, thus making one of their all time leaders at the position expendable. Kerfoot being added to the deal was a bit of a surprise. I don’t remember his name being brought up at any point in trade deals. I like where his game is headed but in the end it seems like Toronto wouldn’t pull the plug unless he was included, and did the Avs really want to stop an overall upgrade because of Alex Kerfoot?
Hardev: Big fan of Calle Rosen. He’s big, smart, and can move the puck very effectively. I think he’s very well suited for the Avs playing style. Nazem Kadri was the reason I, and many other POC, became a hockey fan. I’m not alone in saying that I’ll really miss him on the Maple Leafs, but I’m also super grateful that he’s on the Avalanche. He was buried behind Matthews and Tavares and could never find a role. Here, he’s in a perfect spot, and he’s going to have some great wingers to play with, too. As for Kerfoot, the Avs got a clear upgrade so I don’t see why you don’t make that deal. And Barrie was leaving in free agency anyway. Better to get assets for him rather than lose him for nothing.
Tom: I get to keep watching both Tyson Barrie and Nazem Kadri on a regular basis and that’s a beautiful thing. Yeah it’s tough to see Barrie go but oh man are Avs fans going to fall in love with Naz.
Joe Sakic was a man on a mission and made four trades plus three free agent signings in the last week. Which new addition are you the most excited for and which move, if any, do you wish Joe had walked away from?
Luke: I like the Donskoi signing. He brings solid depth on the wing where he can play most places in the top 9 with ease. And importantly he drives play. With some younger guys (Jost & JT) that will help them out. The TB4 trade (see above) I also liked. Re signing Colin Wilson isn't the worst thing but I don’t see why you needed too. With Bellemare I see why it was done. The team struggled hard to find a 4C all year after Kam went down. He'll be a set and forget 4th line guy. But 2 years... and Kam coming back... him not a huge fan of this move. The Burakovsky trade to me will be a "to be determined later" move. For one, he doesn't have a contract right now, so term will be interesting, and with that, can he produce given a bigger role? I understand the cost of doing business, but giving up a 2nd and 3rd seems excessive. If it was a 3rd and a conditional 2nd... cool, I can live with that. If he gets a 1yr prove deal, and he produces, great! If he happens to land a multi year deal and he doesn't improve... damn. It's a move were I wasn't a fan of when it happened and with what has transpired since, I'm still left not impressed.
Jackie: The trade of Carl Soderberg just to get a third round pick back (thanks again Derick Brassard trade!) and Kevin Connauton who will quickly become an overplayed veteran security blanket was curious enough but then turning that third plus a second round pick for Andre Burakovsky is too rich for me on just a hope that a guy with nearly 400 NHL games under his belt finds a new level of play. Bringing back Colin Wilson just two hours into free agency felt like a Plan D signing that was unnecessary but at least the term was only one year. On the positive side, Joonas Donskoi seems like a smart investment but the Tyson Barrie trade was easily the biggest and best move which will have a large impact.
Chris: I’m with Jackie here. Unloading Soderberg at the perfect time when his stock was high following one of, if not his best, season was genius. I like Carl and thought he brought a veteran presence to the team, but you also have a veteran presence in guys like Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog who are 23 and 26 years old, respectively. At 33 years old they no longer needed that ‘elder statesmen’ role Carl played and a young team will respond to the young leaders. Plus, Carl is not the most fleet of foot player. As a team built on speed he was a liability.
Hardev: Andre Burakovsky is that guy for me. He, like Kadri, really needed to be put in a different situation and be given a chance to play with, and against, great players. I think his time in Washington really ate away at him mentally, and a fresh start in a fresh role could very well be the key to unlock the talent he has shown but not been able to use.
Even though the dust had settled on a frenzied week the work is never done. What items would you still like to see the Avalanche accomplish during the rest of the offseason?
Luke: Besides a experienced 3rd goalie, If I could pick one thing I would like Sakic and co to do it would be a long term deal for JT Compher, 4 years, and as an added bonus lock up Samuel Girard to a 7 or 8 year deal.
Jackie: Locking up Mikko Rantanen long term is the large elephant in the room left on the to-do list. Beyond that, getting the rest of the RFAs settled and finding a 3rd goaltender I’d like to see some work started on ELCs including finally signing Brandon Saigeon and getting Bowen Byram under contract.
Chris: Of course addressing the Mikko contract has to be a high priority and I don’t have any fear this won’t get taken care of quickly and easily. I can’t really think of any glaring team needs that need to be addressed through free agency at this point, so taking care of the RFA’s the team has and adding some puzzle pieces is all that I feel the team has left to do. I can’t remember a time when the Avs were sitting this pretty!
Hardev: Colorado’s always in the mix for NCAA talent on August 15th. Let’s see what happens then.
Tom: this might sound crazy but here me out; sign Justin Williams. The Avalanche still need more right handed shots in the lineup. Williams would help improve the second PP unit and would contribute more to the bottom-6 than a guy like Nieto. He could likely be had on a one year deal so if it doesn’t work out, cut your losses and move on. For this year at least, the Avs have the cap flexibility to take these kind of risks.
After all these moves are the Avalanche a better team right now?
Luke: The Avs are definitely not worse, but I don’t think they're better today. They took a solid step to the right side by moving strength from one place to another. There is a lot of promise and big steps that can be taken with guys like Jost, G and Burakovsky. Along with full seasons from Makar and Grubauer as your go to guy that can make the moves made and the faith given turn into a special season.
Jackie: That’s to be determined. Losing 150 points worth of production will hopefully get made up with increased contributions from young players and the certain difference making addition of Cale Makar. Adding Kadri should distribute the lines better as well. Under the radar departures of Semyon Varlamov and Patrik Nemeth might leave an unexpected void. In the long run the improvements should set up the Avalanche to take another step but there might be a few growing pains on the way there.
Chris: On paper the Colorado Avalanche are not only a better team right now, they are a better team for the foreseeable future. I won’t get into what we can expect of this team past the upcoming season, because the here and now is all that matters. But the Avalanche have everything they need to make a real push to play in the Stanley Cup final and possibly even win the whole thing. They have improved their standing each one of the years following the disaster 2016-17 season. Making the playoffs the following year, then winning the first round last year. Would making it to the next round and into the Conference Finals be yet another step in the right direction? Of course. Joe Sakic has pulled some amazing strings and put together a team than can compete right now to go deep in the season. I haven’t been this excited for an Avalanche season to start in quite some time. Players like Tyson Jost and JT Compher have been given added pressure to produce and I feel like they will welcome that challenge. If the Big 3 can continue their dominance (why would we think they won’t?) this will be a team to be reckoned with.
Hardev: Yes. They are a legitimate two-line team at forward and have lots of options on defense to fiddle with and find a good mix. I would like them to get another defenseman because I’m certain young defensemen do not develop linearly. They will have ups and downs and having a safety net ahead of the likes of Makar, Girard, Byram, Timmins, etc is a good idea. Make them fight for a spot from behind rather than hope they can meet expectations right away. Yes, I’m talking about Jake Gardiner.
They are definitely better up front. Kadri is an improvement on Soderberg and Burakovsky/Donskoi provide two extra legitimate top-9 guys. That said, the loss of Tyson Barrie is going to be huge. Think what you want of him in his own zone but Barrie’s ability to lead the breakout is among the best in the league. Makar will fill that role eventually, but we shouldn’t assume it will happen right away.
Now sit back, relax and check out this amazing video Adrian put together for us: