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Avalanche Thoughts – Before The Deadline

Thoughts on what the Colorado Avalanche might do at the NHL trade deadline.

The NHL trade deadline is just days away. Unlike other trade deadlines, the NHL deadline always brings a flurry of deals, usually involving a couple of big names. This year we’ve already seen Ryan Miller get moved and there are other high quality players on the market who are expected to be dealt.

But don’t expect the Colorado Avalanche to do too much.

The Avs are the surprise team in the NHL this season, sitting comfortably in a playoff spot after finishing last in the Western Conference last year. They didn’t make many significant changes in the off-season either, at least not on the ice. They drafted Nathan MacKinnon first overall, brought back Alex Tanguay in a trade, and then added a couple of depth players. The Avs are a young team and I think fans are just excited to watch these kids grow without having the “win now” expectations.

And that’s why I don’t think the Avs will do a whole lot.

Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy know how important team chemistry is and likely don’t want to mess up a good thing now, and what could be a good thing for years to come, by adding a rental player.

That said, the Avs will be an interesting team to watch on Wednesday because they have trade pieces that other teams will be interested in and it’s possible that they just get an offer that they can’t refuse.

Prior to Alex Tanguay’s injury, which will keep him out for the rest of the season, I thought for sure that Jamie McGinn or P.A. Parenteau would be moved as the Avs had 10 top forwards but only 9 spots. With Tanguay out though, Parenteau has found a home once again with Matt Duchene and McGinn has fit in nicely with a hard working third line alongside of John Mitchell and Max Talbot. It’s still possible that one of them is moved and, depending on what the Avs get in return, Cody McLeod is moved up to the 3rd line, replacing McGinn (who would be dealt or moved up to Duchene’s line if Parenteau is dealt).

Two Avalanche players whose name started on the rumor mill early in the season but have since died down are Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny. If the Avs are looking to make a splash, one of them could definitely be moving.

O’Reilly looked to be a goner when the season started after his contract dispute with management last year and the Avs drafting MacKinnon, giving them four potential All-Star centers. But he was moved to the wing in training camp and has thrived alongside Matt Duchene, scoring 22 goals this year. Now it appears that the team and O’Reilly will work out a new deal in the off-season. He is a restricted free agent, which means there isn’t as much of an urgency to deal him because there’s no chance he walks away for nothing this summer. If the Avs get a great offer for O’Reilly though, I’m sure they’ll think about things, but I doubt they’re actually pursuing a deal that would move like many thought would be the case prior to the season.

Stastny is the more interesting name because he is an unrestrcited free agent this summer and the Avs don’t want him to walk for nothing. If they don’t get a deal done by Wednesday or don’t feel like they can get a deal done by July 1st, Stastny could very well be moved at the deadline. Stastny has played well this year and would definitely fetch a nice return, although teams could be gunshy on dealing for him if they don’t think they can re-sign him. The last thing a team would want to do is give away players or picks for a rental. If Stastny is dealt, you can almost guarantee that a top 2-4 defenseman will be coming back.

The Avalanche have some depth defenseman like Ryan Wilson, Nick Holden, Nate Guenin, Cory Sarich, and Andre Benoit who could all be up for grabs, but none of them will fetch anything significant on their own. One intriguing name is Stefan Elliott. He can’t seem to play his way into the Avs line up and with Tyson Barrie emerging as the better offensive defenseman of the two, the Avs might decide to part ways with Elliott in hopes of getting a roster player in return.

Overall, I expect things to be relatively quiet in Denver on Wednesday, but if some noise is made, it’ll be a boom.

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