All the chatter leading up to the March 3rd trade deadline will be focused on the big name players such as Patrick Kane, Timo Meier and Jakub Chychrun along with the teams making a splash in acquiring them. Rumors are all the rage this time of year and Colorado Avalanche will certainly be in these types of discussion but they are much more likely to limit their shopping spree to depth additions. Keeping the pie-in-the-sky dreams at bay here are some names and strategies to watch for and also a bingo card to help keep track when the festivities begin a week from Friday.
Adding from a division rival
Chris MacFarland, Colorado GM, among those scheduled to be here. https://t.co/FlJ0Gsmnhb— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) February 16, 2023
The remaining bulk of the St. Louis Blues could become trade options beyond the already conducted headline-grabbing moves of Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko as they still have a glut of depth players even after Noel Acciari went to the Toronto Maple Leafs as well. Samuel Blais who St. Louis just received back from the New York Rangers isn’t safe to stay as he carries an affordable $1.525 cap hit on his one year deal and could easily get flipped.
The target of greatest interest, however, is Ivan Barbashev who scored 60 points and 26 goals just a year ago. He, along with the rest of the guys playing in St. Louis, is experiencing a down year but at just 27 years of age and on a relatively affordable $2.25M expiring contract. Although his stock has gone up recently he shouldn’t cost as much as the big name rentals to acquire nor to retain should the Avalanche decide to offer him an extension after this season. Barbashev could be part of the same-age core and help rebuild the third line as someone who can play center, lead the team in hits and put the puck in the back of the net. He is not the strongest defensive player individually and should not be looked at as a specialist in that area but he is someone who elevates his game playing with higher quality teammates.
Second time is a charm
The Avalanche love bringing former players back for another go-around as they are an easier transition into the locker room and are known quantities on the ice. Matt Nieto who was brought back in January already fits this description but others could be in the mix.
Nick Holden didn’t play for Jared Bednar but the current Ottawa Senators defenseman could be an attractive depth option at $1.3M for the rest of the season. Of course there’s also Jack Johnson making $950k if the Avalanche fancy someone from the 35-and-over crowd on the back end.
Up front a reunion with Paul Stastny has always been rumored but has yet to come to fruition. The Carolina Hurricanes are a contender and thus aren’t looking to dump useful players but could move Stastny to free up his $1.5M cap hit to make a bigger move. In a similar vein Alexander Kerfoot has been a persistently rumored as a movable piece because of the $3.5M price tag he possesses. Now in the final year of his deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs and after obtaining the aforementioned O’Reilly as an upgrade down the middle they might finally pull the trigger.
The elephant in the room all season has been about how the defending Stanley Cup champions plan to address their hole at the second center position but considering newcomer Evan Rodrigues has performed well enough in a variety of roles in the top six that the focus should not be on this very expensive addition. Any help down the middle would strengthen the Avalanche lineup and finding someone to take the void left by Darren Helm will allow the team to dress 12 forwards on a regular basis. Helm is in the midst of his latest comeback but anything he’s able to provide at this point should be looked at as a luxury.
Arizona Coyotes center Nick Bjugstad is an easy target making only $900k and would seamlessly fit in as a right-handed center with size, who has already scored 13 goals this season, on the fourth line. Another option Teddy Blueger would be another $2.2M cap dump from a fellow contender but as he’s fallen out of favor in Pittsburgh wouldn’t have to do much heavy lifting in a fourth line role in Colorado.
For every trade a team needs to give to get but a shopping list without the big name headline grabbers shouldn’t need a massive return. Therefore, the Avalanche should be able to keep their first round picks and hope to rebuild the prospect pool The Athletic just named the worst in the league. This exercise is instead about expendable assets which are included in the bingo card down below.
The remaining tradable picks in the next two draft classes are the 2023 5th rounder and the 2024 4th rounder otherwise Chris MacFarland is going to have to dip into the 2025 collection. However, this isn’t ideal as these picks will be devalued against another team offering draft capital a currently sitting GM can use. There’s always the scant prospects the organization possesses but they’d be wise to hold on to those who have any prayer in seeing the NHL such as Jean-Luc Foudy, Oskar Olausson and Sean Behrens. It would be more beneficial to move on from prospects whose waiver exemption will be up soon, such as Sampo Ranta who fits that description, plus he’s been getting showcased in Loveland up on the second line lately.
How many squares will the Avalanche hit on? Can they get a bingo? Leave your predictions below.