LOS ANGELES – A couple of weeks ago, the Avs started to seriously think about Bo Byram’s near-term future. A breakout showing with Team Canada at the World Juniors had Joe Sakic and assistant GM Chris MacFarland asking some tough questions, namely: Where would he play? After all, more established veterans were ahead of him on the depth chart, guys such as Ian Cole and Erik Johnson. Cole, in the last year of a contract and a UFA next season, was a guy the Avs might move if they thought they could find a dance partner, partially to make room for Byram.
This afternoon, the Avs did indeed trade Cole, to the Minnesota Wild for another veteran D-man, Greg Pateryn. As I wrote in this story two weeks ago, Cole’s’ name started to become bandied about on the trade block, but even I’m surprised how fast it happened.
This doesn’t guarantee Bo Byram automatically will take Cole’s spot in the top six. He still has to impress the coaching staff enough to earn that. He still has to get up to speed fitness-wise, after quarantining for a full week. But this trade made one thing perfectly clear: the Byram era with the Avs is about to begin.
There are still some unanswered questions about tonight’s game in Los Angeles, after this trade. As I write this, we don’t know if Pateryn will be in the lineup tonight against the Kings. The Wild are also in Southern California, playing the Ducks, and so it was only an hour ride for the veteran to get to L.A. The Avs also called up D-man Dennis Gilbert to the taxi squad. Pateryn is likely to be a seventh D-man when the dust settles, but he’s got more than 270 games of NHL experience and is considered physical and a good penalty killer.
The Avs said there’s a chance Pateryn could be available for the game tonight. We’ll have to see when the lineup sheet comes out.
The Avs will retain $800,000 of Cole’s $4.25 million cap hit for this season. Pateryn’s cap hit is $2.25 million and, like Ian Cole, can be UFA next season. The Avs increased their cap space by $1.2 million with the trade. Byram has yet to sign a pro contract, but that could come shortly. It would be an entry-level contract.
Byram will not play tonight, but is probable to play at some point before this four-game SoCal road trip is over. Byram has been practicing lately, but isn’t quite ready to play yet.
More, from the Avs’ official release:
Pateryn, 30, has recorded two points (0g/2a) in three games for the Minnesota Wild so far this season. After undergoing surgery on Oct. 1, 2019, Pateryn made his 2019-20 season debut on Jan. 12, 2020 against Vancouver and played in 20 contests for Minnesota during the regular season, tallying three points (0g/3a). He recorded a career-best, three-game point/assist streak from Feb. 25-28, 2020. The Sterling Heights, Michigan, native missed the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs due to an upper-body injury.
Selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round (128th overall) in the 2008 NHL Draft, Pateryn has totaled 41 points (4g/37a) in 270 career NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars and Minnesota. He played in a career-best 80 games during the 2018-19 campaign and set career highs in assists (12), points (13) and blocked shots (148) during the 2017-18 season. Pateryn has appeared in seven career Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording three points (0g/3a). He was tied for third among Montreal defensemen in scoring (0g/3a) and tied for second in plus/minus (+2) during the 2015 playoffs.
“Greg is a strong, veteran defenseman who plays a heavy game,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President & General Manager Joe Sakic. “He’s a hard-nosed, competitive player who can kill penalties, block shots and brings some additional grit to our back line.
“We thank Ian for his two years with the Avalanche, for his efforts both on the ice as well as in the community. We wish him the best of luck moving forward.”
Pateryn has totaled 61 points (25g/36a) in 164 career American Hockey League contests with the Hamilton Bulldogs, St. John’s Ice Caps and Iowa Wild. Prior to turning pro, he played four seasons at the University of Michigan, where he served as an alternate captain in his senior year in 2011-12. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound blueliner produced 43 points (6g/37a) in 142 NCAA games, helping the Wolverines advance to the NCAA Tournament in all four seasons of his collegiate career. He appeared in the NCAA Frozen Four as a junior in 2010-11 and recorded an assist in the NCAA National Championship as Michigan fell to the University of Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in overtime.
Ian Cole, 31, recorded 41 points (6g/35a) and a +20 plus/minus rating in 138 games with the Avalanche. Signed by Colorado as a free agent on July 1, 2018, he has produced 138 points (26g/112a) with a +95 rating in 543 career NHL games with the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Avs. He won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with Pittsburgh in 2015-16 and 2016-17.