As the 2020 NHL trade deadline draws closer, it’s only a matter of time before the rumor mill picks up steam. We’re set to hear dozens of teams and player mentioned in ‘rumors’ and ‘rumbling’ on a nearly daily basis. Some rumored trades will come to fruition before the deadline, others will die in the negotiation process, while some will have been completely fabricated from the get-go.
The Colorado Avalanche are going to be mentioned as a “deadline buyer” in just about every article for three reasons;
- They are a contending team.
- They have a ton of cap room.
- They are actually likely to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline.
With more cap space than anyone else in the NHL, the Avalanche are in the perfect position to pounce this February. Not just in terms of acquiring rentals for a playoff push, but they’re also able to take on bigger contracts with a couple years or term left. The financial flexibility will allow Joe Sakic to improve his team in a way most other contending GMs can’t. He can add full contracts to the roster without subtracting money from the current lineup.
Being able to take on good players without their team retaining salary is a huge asset - and one that will likely help them negotiate a lower trade price.
The biggest prize went off the board early as Taylor Hall was traded to the Arizona Coyotes back in December, but there are still a number of impact players that are likely to be moved. Whether it be a big splash, or some added depth, the Avalanche will make a move or two in the coming weeks.
Here are a few names to keep an eye on as we approach the February 24th trade deadline:
Vladislav Namestnikov (LW/C) - Ottawa Senators
This is a name that was out there last season. Joe Sakic had interest but at the end of the day, the extra year commitment scared the Avs of from paying the asking price. That’s not an issue anymore as Namestnikov is set to be a free agent this summer. Deployed in a defensive role for the Senators, Namestnikov is putting up decent numbers and would bring some versatility to the Avalanche bottom-six. Able to play both sides, he would be a quality depth addition for a playoff run and would provide insurance against injury.
Expected Price: A mid-round pick
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (C/RW) - Ottawa Senators
Namestnikov’s teammate is another forward that is likely to be on the move before the deadline. Pageau is on pace for a career high 36 goals this season while starting more than 61% of his shifts in the defensive zone. That is incredibly impressive. That said, the excitement about his offensive output should be tempted as his 19% shooting percentage is something that he almost certainly won’t maintain through the second half of the season. That said, if the price is right, he would provide another scoring option and could help the team’s power play. He would also instantly become Colorado’s best faceoff man.
Expected Price: There is likely to end up being a bidding way for Pageau so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up costing someone a first round pick.
Chris Kreider (LW) - New York Rangers
Kreider is the name that will likely come up the most between now and the deadline. He’s a veteran winger that would bring a little more Kadri-style edge to the lineup. He’s a big left winger that many believe plays the proverbial “playoff style”. He would be a nice fit on a checking line, allowing Gabriel Landeskog to stick on Nathan MacKinnon’s wing. He’s got a limited no-trade clause that he is likely to use in order to stay away from a Canadian team. The limited market might help keep the price reasonable.
Expected Price: Apparently the Rangers are looking for a first and a prospect for Kreider.
Tyler Toffoli (RW) - Los Angeles Kings
Toffoli is another rental winger that might be too expensive for most contenders. He generates shots at a high rate - for both himself and his line mates - while playing the same kind of defensive role as Kreider. Toffoli makes his teammates better and might be the perfect fit to spark a middle-6 that has been stagnant for large portions of the season.
Expected Price: The Kings are in full rebuild mode so he’s going to cost picks and/or prospects.
Jeff Petry (RD) - Montreal Canadiens
Petry is the only player on the list that isn’t a rental. He’s got one more year on his contract at $5.5m. Despite his contract term, there are rumblings that as the Habs continue to tumble down the standings, Marc Bergevin will be looking to move some of his veteran players. He’s been Montreal’s best defender this season but is one of those guys that many casual fans and old-school executives don’t fully appreciate. If he becomes available, it’s almost a certainty that the Avalanche analytics team will make a big push to acquire him. He’d help balance out the left/right shots on the blue line and would be able to play a shot down role while contributing more to the offensive system than a guy like Ian Cole or Nikita Zadorov. He’s a better, right-handed version of Ryan Graves.
Expected Price: Montreal is likely looking for a roster player in return. We know Bergevin has been a fan of Zadorov in the past. If Sakic could talk him into a one-for-one swap, it’d be perfect for the Avs blue line. He’d probably have to add a little to Z though.
Craig Smith (RW) - Nashville Predators
This is the one the Avalanche should be all over. Craig Smith is quickly becoming one of the league’s most underappreciated players. He is Nashville’s best defensive forward and would bring the exact style of play that the Avs need. He’s a rental with a $4.2m AAV, so there is no long-term financial commitment to this kind of deal.
Expected Price: The Preds are likely looking for a young/cheap player that can play in the NHL next season. Could the Avs trick David Poile into a package centered around AJ Greer and a pick (probably not).