Well, another trade deadline day is in the books. It’s always been a fun day for fans and media, not as much fun for players. But it’s over.
The Avalanche made two deals on the day, neither one a blockbuster. Not at all.
Avs get their “depth goalie” that Joe Sakic talked about, in Michael Hutchinson from Toronto in exchange for Calle Rosen. Avs get a depth forward in Vladislav Namestnikov from Ottawa for a fourth-round pick in 2021.
Th-th-that’s all folks.
Lots of people reported that Tyson Jost’s days with the Avs were done. That was dead wrong. Lots of people said a blockbuster involving a Chris Kreider or a Henrik Lundqvist or a Carey Price or would happen, and they were wrong.
Pretty much everybody is always wrong about something on deadline day, and I’ve certainly been no exception. But if you happened to notice my lack of breathtaking rumors today, either here or on Twitter, it’s because I never really thought anything big would happen.
I do think the Avs thought about doing something bigger, even after the two trades they made, but I believe the prices other teams asked were just too high. Take Kreider, for instance. In talks with my Avs sources, I was always led to believe the price the Rangers were asking was just way too high. Like, way too high. No chance the Avs were going to give up top prospects – like a Byram or a Timmins or a Newhook – for a guy with no term on his deal, like Kreider.
I think the Avs thought about a couple guys with Montreal – Tomas Tatar and/or Arturri Lehkonen – but nothing worked out. When the Avs announced earlier in the day that they got 27-year-old Namestnikov, you wondered: where is he going to play? You would wonder that even more if they got a guy like a Tatar or a Lehkonen or a few other guys, like a Joe Thornton.
(Wasn’t just me who thought another forward might be coming after the Namestnikov deal, by the way)
COL is still in the market for another winger even after the acquisition of Vlad Namestnikov from OTT.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 24, 2020
Personally, I wanted Thornton to come here, from a selfish media guy standpoint. I thought it would have been a fun story, potentially a Ray Bourque II kind of thing. I also think he would have been a nice addition on the ice, as a depth center in case Kadri went down again or takes longer to come back than expected. But Jumbo Joe wound up staying put in San Jose.
But really, where would they have played? The Avs have a very good top six as it is. Kadri will be back before the playoffs. So will Mikko Rantanen, and Matt Calvert.
There are your deadline pickups right there. I also think it’s a great message Sakic sent to his current team: We believe in you. There’s some good chemistry with this team right now, and tinkering too much with things at the deadline – just for the sake of doing something – very often backfires. Sakic’s history, besides, is that he makes his big trades either at the draft or some time earlier in a season.
As far as Namestnikov goes, he’s a speedy depth forward who currently leads the NHL in short-handed goals, with four. The Avs’ penalty-kill unit has not been great all year. This guy might help, especially with Calvert still out. He’s just more depth, that’s all. We’ve seen so many injuries already with the Avs this year, and more injuries can and usually do still happen in the playoffs.
Here’s a guy who could fill in nicely should, say, Calvert goes down again (like he did in the playoffs last year). Here’s a guy who likely will slot in right away for a guy like a Martin Kaut or a Logan O’Connor or, moving forward, maybe a guy like a Jost if this massive goal drought keeps continuing (35 games and counting).
As far as Michael Hutchinson goes, no, he hasn’t had a good season at all. But no goalie is going to have a very good season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, not with that defensive group in front of them.
He’s a third goalie in the system now, assuming Philipp Grubauer is back at some point before the playoffs (which Joe Sakic said will be the case).
Hunter Miska? Yeah, I guess the Avs just never had a lot of faith that he could be a true backup to Pavel Francouz in this current playoff push environment. He has already been sent back to the Colorado Eagles, by the way. Hutchinson is your official backup, starting with Wednesday’s game against Buffalo.
I know some of you are disappointed the Avs didn’t make a bigger splash, especially with all that cap room they had. But Joe Sakic wasn’t going to go out and blow a bunch of his future for some iffy rental. He is all about youth and the future, and, like I just said, the Avs have four really good players coming back before the playoffs, from injury.
There’s your big splash, right there.
(More on Namestnikov, from Avs official release):
Namestnikov, 27, has tallied 25 points (13g/12a) in 54 games with the Senators this season. He suited up in two contests with the New York Rangers before getting traded to Ottawa on Oct. 7, 2019. Selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round (27th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft, Namestnikov has 183 points (79g/104a) in 416 career contests with the Lightning, Rangers and Senators. The 6-foot, 183-pound left wing has four points (1g/3a) in 29 playoff games, helping Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014-15 and to the Eastern Conference Final the following season.
Namestnikov played parts of three seasons with the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch from 2012-15, producing 104 points (40g/64a) in 134 total contests and getting tabbed to play in the AHL All-Star Game in 2015.
Prior to turning pro, the Zhukovskiy, Russia, native suited up for the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights from 2010-12. He served as an alternate captain in his final season and led the Knights to the J. Ross Robertson Cup as league champions. Namestnikov collected 139 points (52g/87a) in 131 career OHL games and added 23 points (5g/18a) in 25 postseason appearances.
Internationally, Namestnikov represented his country at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 and helped Russia capture the bronze medal at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, finishing the tournament with six points (3g/3a) in 10 contests.