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NHL Trade Deadline: Avalanche Trade Board

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Ryan O'Reilly nhl trade deadline

We are now less than three weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline. The Avalanche have already made one trade, acquiring Matt Nieto a few weeks back, but I wouldn’t expect them to be done.

There are holes in the lineup that Chris MacFarland and Joe Sakic will look to fill. The loss of Nazem Kadri has been felt all season long, and the team has been working the phones trying to find a fit.

The salary cap, however, looms large over everything. Teams all over the league are tight to the cap, and the Avalanche are no different. Money will be tight, and teams will have to get creative to fit players in.

The other thing that looms large over what the Avalanche do is the health of Gabriel Landeskog. A healthy Landeskog changes the dynamic of the team. It also changes their cap situation. The plan is for Landeskog to return, so unless that plan changes, things are going to be tight in terms of money.

Without further ado, let’s dig into some of the names that have been linked to the Avalanche or just might be a fit for them.

C Sean Monahan

Age: 28

Contract: $6,375,000 cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023

Up first is a guy who hasn’t played since early December. That means he’s a perfect fit for the Avalanche, right?!?

Just a few weeks back, the Avalanche were called a “team to monitor” when it came to Monahan, and there is a reason for that. The Canadiens had hoped to get a first round pick for Monahan, but with his injury issues coming back, I think that ship has sailed. The fact these two teams completed a trade last year, combined with Monahan already being linked to the Avalanche, has me listing him first. There’s clearly been some conversations there. But were a lot of those talks before or after he was hurt?

Before he got injured, he was off to a strong start. He had 17 points in 25 games, and the team was controlling 53% of the shot attempts with him on the ice. The Canadiens didn’t have high expectations this year, but their season really went in the tank when Monahan got injured. The Monahan from a few years back is gone and unlikely to return, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t be of value. He was winning 55% of his faceoffs before getting injured, and has had one season below 50% since 2015.

The biggest concern, besides health, with Monahan and the Avalanche is his skating. Can he play the way the team wants to play? His size would be a welcome addition, but as we saw with Carl Soderberg a few years back, adding a big body doesn’t do much if he can’t keep up.

C Jonathan Toews

Age: 34

Contract: $10,500,000 cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023

It would take a lot of work for this one to happen, if only because of the cap hit, and is it worth it?

Toews is obviously a winner on the ice, but he’s not nearly the same player he was a few years back. He’s bounced back a little bit offensively after last season, but offensively, is he an upgrade over what they currently have? His production this year is on par with that of J.T. Compher. Unlike Compher, he hasn’t been playing with a Mikko Rantanen. Would having better linemates turn back the clock a little bit for Toews?

This would require not only the Blackhawks eating half of the salary, but another team having to get involved to eat more of the salary up. That only raises the price a little more. Like Monahan, I don’t think he would cost a first rounder, but when you have to get another team involved, an additional asset has to go their way.

Pretty much all of these centers would improve the Avalanche in the face-off department. Toews might be the best of them all, however. He currently sits at 63%, and hasn’t been below 56% since 2017.

None of this will matter if Toews doesn’t want to be traded. He controls his destiny with a no-movement clause, and he hasn’t indicated one way or the other if he wants to go elsewhere. Much like his teammate Patrick Kane, we’re all stuck waiting to see what he wants to do.

C Ryan O’Reilly

Age: 32

Contract: $7,500,000 million cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023

O’Reilly has indicated he wants to stay in St. Louis, but given the Tarasenko trade, I don’t see that happening. That’s a team looking to sell, and he’s a big asset for them.

As much talk as there is about Toews not being the same player he once was, you have to ask the question: What does O’Reilly have left in the tank?

There was a noticeable dip offensively last year. This year, it’s dipped even more, with only 16 points in 37 games. Is age catching up to him, or is it a down year? He’s been out with a broken foot but is expected back very soon. How he produces when he returns might tell more of where he’s at. Outside of offense, you know what you’re getting with O’Reilly. Strong defensively, great work ethic, and good in the face-off circle. The coaching staff would welcome him with open arms.

I know many would be concerned about his fit in the locker room, but I wouldn’t be. It’s been a long time, and he’s friendly with a lot of his old teammates off the ice. They also know what a battler he is on the ice. Fans accepting him might be another issue, though.

Like all the other high dollar players, the Avalanche would need the Blues to help out with the cap hit. As for the price, I can’t imagine the Blues asking for anything less than a first rounder given what they got for Tarasenko, who also was having a down year. Is it worth giving up a first rounder for a guy who might be on a clear decline? We’d likely be talking a pure rental here, as I can’t imagine the Avalanche being able to re-sign him.

D Jack Johnson

Age: 36

Contract: $950k cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023

This is a really easy one. The team knows who he is, they know what role he can fill, and in an ideal world, they wouldn’t have to use him much. He’s not having a good season in Chicago, but very few are. He’ll likely cost you next to nothing, and he’s not going to complain if he’s in the press box most nights. And that’s really all they need. If the defense can get healthy, they just need an extra who they trust to plug in when needed.

C Adam Henrique

Age: 33

Contract: $5,825,000 million cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Most of this list is pending unrestricted free agents. Henrique is not in that category. The Ducks would have to help out in eating half the cap hit, which would almost certainly mean a first rounder is headed Anaheim’s way, but for a player that’s not a rental, you can live with that a little more. If you acquire Henrique, then you can stomach letting a guy like Compher walk this summer.

Some of these centers, you’re wondering if there’s really an upgrade there or not. With Henrique, I think there actually is, and you’re getting an additional year of the player. He kind of checks all the boxes of what they need, at least in the short term, in that second line center spot.

Is Anaheim willing to deal him? I don’t know why they wouldn’t be. They’re in a clear rebuild, and if a package includes a first round pick, I’m certain they would listen. But it might cost multiple assets to bring him in. For a team short on assets like Colorado, that may be tough to pull off.

D Dmitry Kulikov

Age: 32

Contract: $2,250,00 million cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023.

Kulikov fits as an expiring contract. If you want to aim a little higher than Jack Johnson, he might be your guy, but really, you’re not aiming THAT much higher, so the difference might be negligible.

He’s stuck on a dumpster fire of a team defensively right now, but had a respectable season in Minnesota just a year ago. Unlike Johnson, he doesn’t have that familiarity with the team or the system, but you’re just looking for a seventh or eight defenseman here. He also has the ability to step in and play either side on defense.

C/W Max Domi

Age: 27

Contract: $3,000,000 million cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023

Last year, Domi was one of the names thrown around in trade talks with the Avalanche. I was not a fan. He’s a pretty one-dimensional player, and the team didn’t need that last season.

This year? Well, the Avalanche can’t score, so I’m a little more open to the idea of bringing him in. He’s having a pretty strong year, with 35 points in 50 games. Granted, he’s playing on a bad team and getting to play a lot because of it, but you’ll take production over the opposite. He’s also grown a fair bit at center, but he’s never been great defensively.

His first playoff stint in Montreal didn’t go very well, but he was a little better last year in Carolina. He’s younger than pretty much all the other forwards we’ve talked about, and might fit the system better. If you can live with the defensive warts, he could add some offensive pop to the lineup.

C Nick Bjugstad

Age: 30

Contract: $900k cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023

Bjugstad sits firmly in that camp of “guy who chose a good time to have a strong season”. He’s bounced around a fair bit the last few years, but is having his best offensive season since 2018.

This isn’t a guy you’re bringing in to be your second line center, though. This would be a bottom six addition, where you add some speed and definitely some size to the lineup. At 6’6″, he’d add another giant to the lineup.

With his cheap contact, adding him on the cap wouldn’t be that difficult, but for a mid-round pick, he’d help the bottom six. If Darren Helm can actually return, a trade like this probably doesn’t make much sense, but if he can’t, it never hurts to add depth.

C Luke Schenn

Age: 33

Contract: $850k cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2023

In the end, I think the cost will be too much for a position the Avalanche don’t necessarily need to go out and make a big upgrade at. As far as defensive rentals go, Schenn is probably one of the better ones.

There are also rumors Vancouver might just re-sign him, which makes sense, because that organization has no clue what they’re doing.

Other Names to Look At

C Jack Roslovic – There are murmurs that Columbus may look to move him. He’s signed for another year at $4M per season, and has just four goals this year, but is a good puck distributor. He’s shooting just 5.4% this season, well below his career average of 12.3%. That extra year might be intriguing to the Avalanche, but would also increase the cost.

C Boone Jenner – A dream player for a lot of Avalanche fans, but I don’t see why Columbus would move him.  He’s signed for three more seasons and is their Captain. It would take a lot to pry him out of that organization.

W Jesse Puljujarvi – My article on him got some people heated, and I wasn’t even recommending trading much for him. The most recent word is that he might be put on waivers in the very near future. With a $3M cap hit and no confidence, probably somebody you look to add in the off-season as opposed to bringing in for a stretch run.

C Nick Bonino – Another older center past his prime, but they’ve already gone to San Jose twice in a year to find a depth forward. Why not a third time? Could fill a role on the fourth line and win some face-offs. Like the prior two Sharks pickups, I can’t imagine he would cost much in terms of price. But like I mentioned earlier, if Helm is going to make a return, a pickup like this isn’t necessary.

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