Despite the rash of injuries of late, Avs general manager Joe Sakic seems content with the roster he’s built with the NHL playoffs looming just six weeks out | Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
As the league-wide trade deadline passes, the Avs are largely the same team they were before
After the Colorado Avalanche were tied to just about every big name available — from Henrik Lundvist and Chris Kreider to Jonathan Drouin and Joe Thornton — it is officially past the 2020 NHL trade deadline and the general manager Joe Sakic and the Avs have told the NHL world one thing with their deadline-day moves:
They like where they’re at.
Now whether the fans like it or not, this is the team Colorado will take to the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, which starts in roughly six weeks.
Rather than overpaying and mortgaging the future, Sakic and Co. made a few smaller, decidedly cheaper moves to help bolster his team heading into the postseason. He and the Avs started the morning bright and early by making a splash with the deadline day’s first move.
7:38 a.m. MT
Colorado acquired left wing/center Vladislav Namestnikov from Ottawa in exchange for next season’s 4th-round pick.
OTT trades Namestnikov to COL for a fourth-round pick in 2021, per @DarrenDreger
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 24, 2020
For how cheap he’s coming in, Namestnikov was a solid depth pick up by the Avalanche and will help bridge the gap with some offensive and penalty-kill production while the likes of Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen and Matt Calvert are out long term.
Namestnikov is tied for the NHL lead in short-handed goals (4) and points (6).
A low-key nice add for Colorado’s 18th-ranked PK. #Avs
— Scott MacDonald (@0ffScottFree) February 24, 2020
Namestnikov will come in as a bottom-six forward for the Avalanche. He is tied for the league lead in short-handed goals (4) and points (6) while playing the third-most short-handed minutes while among Ottawa’s forward group.
Ottawa will get its 2021 fourth-round selection back, as the Senators sent theirs (and a prospect) to the New York Rangers back in October for the 27-year-old winger. Namestnikov has since tallied 13 goals and 25 points in 54 games with the Sens. He has just over $880,000 left on his cap hit this season and he is set to become a unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season with Colorado.
9:30 a.m. MT
GM Joe also made it known in the weeks leading up to trade deadline that Colorado would be seeking some goaltender depth to help out while starter Philipp Grubauer remains out for an unknown amount of time with an undisclosed injury he suffered at the Stadium Series game in Colorado Springs on Feb. 15.
The @MapleLeafs have acquired defenceman Calle Rosen from Colorado in exchange for goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 24, 2020
Hutchinson was the backup in Toronto before the Maple Leafs acquired Jack Campbell from the L.A. Kings just a few weeks ago, bumping Hutchinson to the AHL. The 29-year-old netminder is 4-9-1 in the NHL this season with a 3.66 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage. Over his seven-year career, Hutchinson is 50-52-14 with an all-time 2.81 GAA and .905 Sv%. In the AHL this season, Hutchinson is 3-1 with a much better .943 save percentage and sub-2.00 goals against (1.98).
This move likely indicates that Grubauer’s injury is not long term and should return at some point in the regular season. Until then, interim Avs backup Hunter Miska will likely return to the AHL Colorado Eagles while Hutchinson will serve the new backup role to Pavel Francouz, given Hutchinson has much more NHL experience (126 games to Miska’s one).
Rosen returns to Toronto after what was a brief vacation in Colorado. The Avs acquired Rosen in the Nazem Kadri blockbuster trade over the summer. Rosen played eight games with the Avalanche this season, recording two assists, while notching two goals and 15 points in 35 AHL games with the Colorado Eagles.
1:01 p.m. MT
The NHL trade deadline has officially passed and this is the roster the Avalanche will run with through the rest of the season and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
There are a number of factors as to why the Avs did not make any of the rumored big moves. For one, the price for many of the higher-end guys was astronomical. And the thing sellers covet the most when trading their most valued assets are draft picks, of which Colorado has little wiggle room in that department. The Avs only have their first-round pick — which, historically speaking, is very hard to pry from GM Joe — no second-round selection, a couple of third-rounders and all of their late-round picks.
Players like Jean-Gabriel Pageau (New York Islanders) went for a 2020 first (top-three protected) and second-round pick, plus a third in 2022 (conditional on the Islanders winning the Stanley Cup). Pageau then signed a six-year, $30 million extension with the Islanders hours later. Vincent Trocheck went to Carolina for Erik Haula, and three prospects. Andreas Athanasiou went from Detroit to Edmonton for two second-round picks (2020 and 2021) and Sam Gagner.
Then there was Chris Kreider — a player heavily rumored to be one of the favorites to land in Colorado — who never actually entered trade talks after he signed an 11th-hour contract extension with the New York Rangers for 7 x $6.5 AAV.
But what everyone needs to make of today’s moves by Sakic and the Avalanche, it is that there isn’t that big of a concern for Colorado’s injured stars. Expect the likes of Rantanen, Kadri, Calvert and Grubauer all to return in the coming weeks, and certainly before the end of the regular season.
Also of note, the deadline has passed for the Avalanche to send AHL players like Martin Kaut, Logan O’Connor and Hunter Miska to the Colorado Eagles. Per NHL and AHL rules, any player on the NHL roster by the time of the trade deadline’s passing is no longer eligible to be play in the AHL for the rest of the regular season or the playoffs. That said, Kaut, who has played three NHL games since his call-up last week, will burn one of his three years on his entry-level contract — if he plays more than nine total games with the Avalanche through the rest of this season.
Per rules, all NHL clubs now only have four call-ups to use up for the rest of the regular season. Emergency call-ups, however, do not count toward a team’s four alloted call-ups.
So for now, this is your Colorado Avalanche team expected to make the run and compete for the Stanley Cup. Do they have enough firepower? That remains to be seen.