Frankly, I think the Avs won the trade that sent Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Giroux, 34, a UFA this summer, was finally dealt Saturday by the Flyers, to the Panthers. The Avalanche did have interest in Giroux. I still don’t know for sure if Avs first-round prospect defenseman Justin Barron was on the table, as some rumors said was the case. Nobody I trust ever told me that was a fact.
But if he WAS on the table, for a 34-year-old rental whose skills are on the decline, I think the Avs dodged a big bullet here. I would NEVER have traded Justin Barron for a Claude Giroux, period. He’s going to be a 20-minutes-plus, top-four defenseman in this league for many years. He’s big, fast and can play at both ends.
Why would you trade him for a guy who’s semi-washed? This was a great non-trade for the Avs.
I didn’t want to come out and blast Joe Sakic if Barron actually was on the table, because I didn’t know if it was true or not. Now that this deal is done and we don’t have to talk about Claude Giroux anymore, my admonition remains this: Do NOT trade Justin Barron for some rental player.
This team is GOOD ENOUGH to win a Cup with the players on hand. At least, I think so. And, I believe Sakic thinks that too.
I can comfortably say this, about the Avs’ mindset on this: If Giroux became an Av, great, happy to have you. But if not, OK, we addressed our biggest needs already at the deadline by getting big, bone-crusher D-man Josh Manson and big, hard-forechecking, good-faceoff-man, good-PK-guy Nico Sturm.
Giroux would have been some icing on the cake. But the cake is still plenty frosted as is.
Why am I so adamant about not trading a guy like Barron? Because, the Avs just traded one of their other best D prospects, Drew Helleson, in the Manson deal. Barron is the other top D prospect in the organization. I just don’t think you can trade both like that, on short-term rentals.
Anybody recall the name Robyn Regehr? He’s the young, former first-round pick Avs prospect defenseman who went to the Calgary Flames in 1999 for big-name, older, high-priced rental Theoren Fleury.
And, don’t get me wrong: I loved Fleury and he did a lot of good things here. He scored 24 points in 15 regular-season games for the Avs, and 17 more in 18 playoff games. Pretty good production. And, the Avs made it to a Game 7 of the Western Conference finals with him. They beat the arrogant, two-time defending champion Red Wings with Fleury, and he was a big part of that series victory. That in itself was a big win for the Avs, beating the hated Wings.
But: Fleury missed a bunch of games with a knee injury his first game here. He missed a playoff game in Dallas, in the WCF, with the “flu.” The Avs did not win the Cup.
Regehr went on to play 1,050 NHL games for Calgary, Buffalo and L.A., winning a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2013 as a regular D-man. He went to a Game 7 of the Cup Finals with Calgary in 2004. He was one of the best stay-at-home defensemen in the Western Conference for a long time.
Do I think Barron will be as good as Regehr? I don’t know. But I think he has a shot. And, in that case, you don’t just deal him away for some short-term thing.
Frankly, I don’t think Claude Giroux would have fit so great on this team. He’s not fast enough to play at the Avs’ pace, I don’t think. He’s slowing down. He’s small. Yeah, he’s talented, yeah he’s a great faceoff man, yeah he can get you some points. But so can a lot of other guys on this team.
Justin Barron is a guy who has a long future ahead of him. Claude Giroux doesn’t. And, did anybody else get turned off by Giroux’s mopey, hangdog looks all the time, about the prospect of leaving his beloved Philly? Is that the guy you want as a final piece to a Cup puzzle?
Besides, what happens if Manson leaves as a UFA this summer? What happens as Erik Johnson (who’s had a great year) gets another year older? What happens if guys like Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray – both on one-year contracts – leave after this year? That’s when a kid like Barron can come in and really develop as a player, at the NHL level.
I’d MUCH rather his development come with the Colorado Avalanche, not the Philadelphia Flyers.
Let this be a lesson to the Avs: Sometimes, the best deal is the one you don’t make.