When it comes to the NHL trade deadline, most Colorado Avalanche fans don’t expect any big moves from Joe Sakic - and rightfully so. The Avs General Manager has a propensity for doing his heavy lifting either in the summer or early in the season. Two years ago, the Matt Duchene trade came in early November, then this past summer he swung another massive deal involving Nazem Kadri and Tyson Barrie.
In contrast, Sakic’s deadline moves are usually depth acquisitions like last year’s trade for Derick Brassard.
Despite this, we are starting to hear talk of a potential blockbuster as the deadline approaches. There have been quiet rumblings about Sakic’s interest in Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor dating back to the summer when he was an RFA. Now, Elliotte Friedman has addressed the rumor in his latest 31 Thoughts article:
The Winnipeg Free Press’s Mike McIntyre had a trade rumour last week involving Kyle Connor and Bowan Byram. (The actual one I heard was Connor for Byram and Vladeslav Kamenev.) There were multiple denials when I looked into it. I do think Kamenev wants more of an opportunity to play.
The first instinct for some would likely be “DON’T TRADE BO BYRAM”. He was the fourth overall selection this past draft and one of the better defensive prospects in hockey. That said, if you’re ever going to entertain moving a prospect like Byram, a trade for a young star like Kyle Connor makes all the sense in the world. It makes even more sense when that young star is already signed to a team friendly long-term contract. Connor is signed at an AAV of a little more than $7m until 2026.
At only 23-years old, Connor is two goals away from recording his third consecutive 30+ goal season. He has been Winnipeg’s best player this season and plays with the type of speed that would fit in perfectly with the Avalanche. Byram and Kamenev is a big price, but if you can turn those into a player like Kyle Connor, you’d have to do it. He is a point per game player who would give the Avs the scariest forward group in the NHL.
Connor doesn’t only put the puck in the net, he has underlying numbers that suggest he could do so at an even higher rate. His shot generation and expected goal rates are higher than every player on the Avalanche not named Nathan MacKinnon.
Byram could make an impact on the Avalanche next year, but realistically we are two years away from him being a major factor on the team. A player like Connor makes the Avs into one of the best teams in the NHL right now - and for the foreseeable future.
Connor - MacKinnon - Rantanen
Landegskog - Kadri - Burakovsky
That’s an absolutely terrifying top-6 that would have the matchup advantage in any playoff series.
No, the Avalanche don’t have any trouble scoring and adding Connor might seem like overkill. That said, adding another U25 star to the lineup is something any team would consider. Particularly when it involves holding onto the impact players currently on the roster.
The Winnipeg Free Press article Friedman referenced also mentioned the idea still seems farfetched, even if the Avalanche added a first round pick to Byram and either Kamenev or Martin Kaut.
Realistically, it’s hard to believe the Jets would entertain this type of deal. They just signed Connor to a long term deal this past summer and it’s easy to see why they would view him as the future of the team. That said, Winnipeg needs defense help in a bad way. The loss of Dustin Byfuglien has left a huge hole on their blue line and a prospect like Byram would help fill the void going forward. The hope would be that Byram grows into the type of big minute two-way defender that Big Buff has been. The Avalanche hope he turns into that as well, but with the presence of Cale Makar, they don’t need him to nearly as much as Winnipeg would.
Is it likely Winnipeg trades Connor? No. But if they were to do so, Byram is the type of player they’d look to build a package around.
The natural reaction from some fans might be to outright dismiss the thought of trading Bo Byram. When a team drafts a kid as high as the Avalanche did, fans naturally become attached to a prospect. It’s understandable. That doesn’t mean a team wouldn’t entertain the idea if a trade makes sense. This trade would make a whole lot of sense for Sakic and the Avs.
It’s important to remember, Bo Byram could be a young star in the NHL in a few years - Kyle Connor already is one.
Would you trade Byram and Kamenev for Kyle Connor?
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