What do the Avalanche do at the Trade Deadline?

With the trade deadline just over a month away, fans of every NHL team are beginning to endlessly talk about what their team is going to do. Do they buy from a basement team to bolster their depth up front for a run at the Stanley Cup? Do they tinker with their defence in the hopes that it may lead them to a wild card spot? Or do they completely sell off their pending UFAs and other hot commodities in order to gather picks for the upcoming entry draft?

Most teams in the NHL has a sense already of what they want to do at the draft. Teams like Tampa Bay and Vegas, who already have a playoff spot locked down, may look to buy in order to address weaknesses. Teams like Ottawa and Arizona, who are clearly out of luck for a playoff spot, could look to sell off whatever garners interest across the league. But there’s a group of teams who may be unsure as to where they will sit come February 26.

The Central Division has proven itself over the past few seasons to be the closest division in the NHL. That has rung true yet again this season, with the division-leading Winnipeg Jets having a mere nine point cushion on the last-place Chicago Blackhawks. To put that in perspective, the Tampa Bay Lightning lead the Buffalo Sabres by thirty-four points, the Washington Capitals lead the Carolina Hurricanes by eleven points, and the Vegas Golden Knights lead the Arizona Coyotes by thirty-three points.

So what does this mean for the Colorado Avalanche? They’ve won seven games in a row, having won every game in 2018 so far, and eight of their last ten, yet they still sit two points out of the final wild card spot, currently occupied by the Los Angeles Kings, who have lost six of their last ten games. The Minnesota Wild, who are also red-hot, with six victories in their last ten contests, sit tied with the Kings, with 53 points. The caveat is that the Avalanche have a game in hand on LA, and two games on the Wild. The Anaheim Ducks also sit with the Avalanche at 51 points, yet they’ve played three more games than Colorado. Chicago, who sits behind them at 50 points, have played two more games than the Avalanche.

There are two scenarios that could lead the Avalanche to the trade deadline. One, which seems more likely to me, they plateau as their PDO returns to an earthly number, and they find themselves out of a playoff spot. The second, is their PDO continues to sustain itself, and the Avalanche shoot into a divisional playoff spot, and look at potentially buying at the deadline. Let’s tackle the second scenario first, because that’s the easier one to look at.

So the Avalanche find themselves in a divisional spot on February 26, and they look to buy. There aren’t very many spots of weakness in the Avalanche’s game at the moment. Nathan MacKinnon is putting his name in the Hart conversation, and the Avs continue to get some nice depth scoring from players such as Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, and Colin Wilson. They may want to look at getting a more experienced depth winger, as they are relying on Nail Yakupov, who has struggled immensely over the past few weeks, Matt Nieto, who is Matt Nieto, and Gabriel Bourque, who is a very good AHL player. Tomas Vanek could be an excellent option for them, as he has great chemistry with the young Vancouver roster, and the Canucks signed him to trade him at this point. He’s a UFA at the end of the season, and he’s a significantly better option on the scoring wing than Nail Yakupov or Sven Andrighetto. Another winger who the Avs could inquire about is Leo Komarov from the Toronto Maple Leafs. I know, he’s had an awful season. But there are numbers to support the idea that this season is a flash in the pan, and that he could just use a change of scenery. Fellow Avs fans, ask yourself, would you rather have Matt Nieto, or Leo Komarov on the fourth line?

So now we must delve into the first scenario, which sees the Avalanche outside of the playoff picture on February 26. The Avs have a few commodities they may look at selling off to a contending team. The prime piece the Avs could look to move is Blake Comeau, who is having quite a good year for a depth winger, with 18 points in 43 games. He has been a penalty kill specialist, additionally scoring 2 shorthanded goals this year, tied for fourth in the league. The Avs likely could attract a good package for Comeau, as some contending teams, like the New York Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets, have struggling penalty kills and could use depth at forward. Another piece the Avs could move is Matt Nieto, although his point totals suggest he may be a decent depth player with 15 points in 36 games, his advanced metrics are atrocious. He has a negative relative Corsi for percentage, at a -3.2, despite his PDO landing at 101.7, a “lucky” PDO. I would imagine that Nieto, a pending RFA, could attract a late-round pick at the most. Mark Barberio, a defenseman, could attract some suitors as well. He has positive advanced metrics, complementing an average PDO. Despite early season struggles and a lack of point totals, Barberio could work well as a bottom pairing defenseman on a contending team that could use defensive help, such as the New Jersey Devils. Finally, if I were the Pittsburgh Penguins, I would inquire about the price of Andrew Hammond. With the absence of Matt Murray not having a timeline, and the ever growing struggle with Tristan Jarry as a backup, Andrew Hammond could serve as a decent backup for the Pens as they look to lock down a playoff spot. Other suitors for Hammond could include the Devils, and the Maple Leafs, who have been looking to move on from current backup Curtis McElhinney.

This is the first time in a while that the Avs had been looking at the trade deadline with two scenarios. They’ve been well out of the playoff picture over the past few seasons, and they haven’t had many eventful deadline days over these past years. With the Duchene trade earlier this season, it will be interesting to see if GM Joe Sakic has any more magic in his hat this February. For some extra fun information, below are all of the trades made by the Avalanche on deadline day since the 2014 deadline:

 

Colorado receives:
G Reto Berra
Calgary receives:
2014 2nd-round pick (Hunter Smith)
Colorado receives:
F Jordan Caron, 2016 6th-round pick (Oskar Steen)
Boston receives:
F Maxime Talbot, F Paul Carey
Colorado receives:
D Mat Clark
Anaheim receives:
F Mike Sgarbossa, conditional 2015 7th-round pick (Gustav Olhaver)
Colorado receives:
F Freddie Hamilton
San Jose receives:
D Karl Stollery
Colorado receives:
D Eric Gelinas
New Jersey receives:
2017 3rd-round pick (Fabian Zetterlund)
Colorado receives:
F Mikkel Boedker
Arizona receives:
F Alex Tanguay, F Conner Bleackley, D Kyle Wood
Colorado receives:
F Shawn Matthias
Toronto receives:
F Colin Smith, 2016 4th-round pick (Keaton Middleton)
Colorado receives:
F Sven Andrighetto
Montreal receives:
F Andreas Martinsen
Colorado receives:
Conditional 2018 4th-round pick
Los Angeles receives:
F Jarome Iginla

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