As the NHL trade deadline approaches, it’s no secret that Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has been looking to add a forward for the stretch run. Names like Chris Kreider, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Vladislav Namestnikov, Kyle Palmieri and even Joe Thornton have been linked to the Avalanche in trade rumors over the last month. There’s one less talked about player that Sakic might be even more interested in, and that’s Erik Haula of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The 28-year-old forward is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and by all accounts, the Hurricanes have been listening to offer on him ahead of the deadline. After suffering through a handful of injuries the past couple of years, Haula has 12 goals and 22 points through 41 games this season. His production has been down this year, but a lot of that is a byproduct of being in and out of the lineup. He appears to be finally healthy and has the ability to be a key contributor to a team making a push towards the playoffs.
Haula has the ability to play both center and left wing, making him the exact type of player Sakic would be interest in. The Avalanche need someone who can fill in as a middle-6 center while Nazem Kadri is out of the lineup recovering from his injury, but would prefer it be a guy who can be just as effective on the wing.
Haula can add offense - he scored 29 goals for Vegas just a few seasons ago - and can provide the kind of positional flexibility the Avalanche like in their lineup. In addition, Haula would instantly become the team’s second best faceoff man behind Kadri.
Last summer, Carolina acquired Haula from the Vegas Golden Knights for depth center Nicolas Roy and a conditional late-round draft pick. That’s not a very high price and with only a few months left on his contract, the return would likely be even lower now. Carolina is reportedly looking for a depth defender who can play on the right side and act as insurance for the playoff run. Would deal involving Mark Barberio and a pick be enough to get Haula out of Carolina? Maybe the Avs offer up Nikita Zadorov and as for something in addition to Haula. There are a number of difference scenarios that could work.
As Sakic works the phones, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Avalanche make a couple of moves over the next 24 hours. There are a lot of options out there but an Erik Haula trade is one he’s working to make happen.