The Colorado Avalanche will play 32 games in the span of 60 days, including a tilt tonight in Buffalo. After an 11-day pause for the All-Star break, the Avs allowed six goals to the Eastern Conference Wild-Card leading Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Colorado has had the last two days off and it will be the only two-day break for the Avalanche for the rest of the season. Besides a three-day respite in late March, it’s every-other-days and back-to-backs for the Avs from here on out.
This fact is part of the reason why the trade deadline raises questions about the state of the team. Is this Avs squad deep enough, healthy enough and strong enough for 32 games in 60 days, plus a deep run in the postseason? Or will GM Joe Sakic make a move to shore up either the top-six forwards or add a veteran defenseman to help solidify the backend? We’ll have our official answer in the next three weeks.
Do the Avs make a move at the deadline to upgrade their defense or do they wait another year for Timmins/Byram to fix the problem.— Pokecheque (@Pokecheque) February 4, 2020
Yesterday I tweeted a segment from Pierre LeBrun’s article from Monday on The Athletic titled “Six specific trade deadline moves that make a lot of sense.” In it, he posits that it could be a smart move for the Avalanche to target a guy like Alec Martinez from the L.A. Kings.
Martinez is a veteran guy at 32 years of age, who is signed for another season at a affordable $4 million per year. LeBrun also posits that the teams he’s talked to about Martinez and his value have the veteran D-man “a notch below” his former teammate Jake Muzzin, who was traded to Toronto near the deadline last season. Muzzin was acquired for a first-round pick and two recent second-round pick prospects. In theory, the ask would be somewhat similar for a guy like Martinez. LeBrun says something like a 2021 second-round pick and Avs prospect and Minnesota Golden Gopher sophomore Sampo Ranta ought to do it.
I’m not opposed to a move like this. Martinez is a veteran of 64 playoff games and helped the Kings to two Stanley Cup wins in his tenure there, and scored two series-winners en route to L.A.’s 2014 Cup title. Sure, he’s not a flashy guy, and with fans chomping at the bit for a name like Chris Kreider to Colorado — it’s not happening, by the way — Martinez is probably a bit of a disappointment. But I think that’s what the Avs need — a little bit of boring on the backend.
The Avs blueline has Cale Makar, Sam Girard and the emergence of the offensively-gifted Ryan Graves. They have the flash, the pizzazz, the youth and the offensive upside. What Colorado needs to make a deep run is a “boring” stay-at-home defensemen to guide the way.
Conversely, the Avalanche could save the money and the assets and wait for somebody to funnel up the pipeline come next season. Right now, however, I think it’s go time. This is the most talented roster Sakic has had in his tenure as general manager and it’s time to push the chips in and go all-in this year. I think to make a deep run, a trade-deadline acquisition is a must, particularly for a veteran D-man. Whether that’s Martinez, who is the top defenseman on TSN’s “Trade Bait List,” or a guy like Brenden Dillon from San Jose or perhaps a Sami Vatanen from New Jersey — or perhaps nobody at all — remains to be seen.
How long of a leash are the fans gonna give Landeskog for his awful play? The man seems exempt from any criticism.— Light.through.the.veins (@N3E0A3L) February 3, 2020
Woah there. I wouldn’t call Landeskog’s play “awful” by any means. Again, I think people put way too much weight on stats to assess a player’s value. And while you’d like to expect more from your top-line winger (and captain), Landy does his job well in other ways.
It’s been a down year for the captain, and it kind of all started with his injury that sidelined him for nearly six weeks, including the entire month of November. Landeskog is on pace for something like 20 goals and 40 points by regular season’s end, which would be his worst finish since the 2016-17 season — which, to be fair, was a down year for the entire organization.
Landeskog is tied for third on the team with a solid 53.1 percent Corsi For (minimum 30 games played). He’s second on the team in face-off win percentage (minimum 200 face-offs); he leads all forwards in hits; and he’s averaging nearly 20 minutes per game.
Does Grubauer’s struggles, making the spectacular save then seemingly giving up a softy (remember he struggled this time last year too) mean the Avs look to give Francouz more starts or look to add a goalie?— Jim (@JimCarlson1571) February 3, 2020
I don’t think the Avs are looking to add a goalie. They have a pretty respectable tandem in Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. While the former has struggled at times this season, the Avs won’t seek outside help.
To your point, I do think it may be time to give Francouz a few more games if Grubauer continues this on-again off-again play. Francouz is eight in the league with a .924 save percentage and is 10th in the league with a 2.45 goals-against average (minimum 18 games played) and is 12-4-2 on the year.
For comparison, Grubauer is 34th in both GAA and save percentage. Now is kind of the critical juncture where if you’re coach Bednar it might be time to flip the rotation while there’s still time, rather than waiting to change goalies in the final few weeks of the season.
To answer your question, no, the Avs won’t look to add another goalie, but, yes, I think Francouz has more than earned a few more starts to finish the season. And if Frankie performs well enough, do you leave him in net and make Grubauer your backup?
Large scale question...— Guy Smiley (@Muppet_News) February 4, 2020
Does the NHL have a tentative plan for which current Pacific Division team will move to the Central Division when Seattle begins play in 2021?
Golden Knights or Coyotes make the most sense, but the Avalanche will be getting a new division foe.
The “re-districting,” if you will, of the NHL and its divisions is all based on geography. That said, it’d make the most sense to move the Arizona Coyotes to the Central Division, and that’s actually exactly what they’re going to do.
The NHL already announced the move of Arizona to the Central ahead of the Seattle Kraken (?) expansion back in December of last year.
Read more about it here: Coyotes to Move to Central Division in 2021-22
...also, with the Jets planning to terminus his contract, how about the possibility of the Avalanche bringing in Dustin Byfuglien for a playoff run? He can play offense or defense.— Guy Smiley (@Muppet_News) February 4, 2020
I think every team in the league, save Winnipeg of course, would love a guy like Dustin Byfuglien on their roster. He’s a big, mean, shut-down guy with plenty of offensive upside and he’s just what the Avs need to make a Cup run.
It’s unlikely, however, that he plays again this season. He hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury and receiving surgery on it in late October. He has begun rehabbing it in December but “has not progressed to the next steps” in his recovery and in all likelihood it’s pretty much a lock that he doesn’t play this season.
There are also questions of whether or not he wants to play again. He was suspended without pay for failing to report to training camp at the start of the season and he was then placed on personal leave of absence as he contemplated retirement. And at 34, the sun is setting on his career. Personally, I doubt he plays again.
Questions from comments:
“Who do you think moves on from the Eagles next year (either by graduating or because their contract is up and they go elsewhere) and who replaces them?” — SuckMyAvs
As far as subtractions go, to start off, I think A.J. Greer is likely the biggest name to leave the Avs next year. I think he’s run his course here in Colorado and he just hasn’t proven he’s 1) a reliable player, and 2) can be an impactful NHL player. His contract is up at the end of this season and I don’t see the Avs qualifying for another contract.
There are also a lot of one-year deals this season in Loveland, which is a common occurrence in the AHL. Sheldon Dries is an RFA, as is Logan O’Connor and both have proven to be solid depth scorers, at least in the AHL, and will most likely earn extensions.
But some of the veteran guys like Erik Condra, Jayson Megna and T.J. Tynan’s contracts will all expire and more than likely won’t be re-signed. The reason for this is guys like Brandon Saigeon, who is currently in ECHL Utah, will probably make the jump to the AHL, and some college guys, namely Cam Morrison of Notre Dame, who is a senior, and possibly Sampo Ranta of Minnesota could make the jump if they earn contracts with the Avalanche.
Also of note, Eagles captain Mark Alt’s contract will be up as will head coach Greg Cronin’s. Both would likely be re-signed but it’s still something to keep an eye out for.
More questions, comments or concerns? Hit me up on Twitter @0ffScottFree any day of the week.