Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland Meets With Media Before Trade Deadline
With the NHL trade deadline set of Friday, Colorado Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland met with the media before Monday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
At the moment, the Avalanche sit relatively secure in a playoff spot with 71 points, but with plenty of room to move up. They’ve played less games than everyone in the Western Conference to date. Most of the big trades so far have involved Eastern Conference teams, so people are waiting for the West to get involved.
Below is a transcription of his meeting with the media, where MacFarland touched on everything from second line center, the health of Landeskog, and more.
Question: A lot of big moves happening in the NHL right now and they seem to be in the Eastern Conference. Does that at all change the way you approach this deadline?
MacFarland: No, it doesn’t change anything for us, really. I mean, there’s been obviously some big trades and some of those series are shaping up to be pretty exciting series, but it doesn’t change our approach as we move along in the next few days.
Question: What kind of areas do you see as your biggest need at this point?
MacFarland: I don’t think we’re focused in on any one positional silo, for lack of a better term. I think if there’s something that makes sense, whether it’s at forward or ‘D’, we’ll look at it as we always do through the multiple lenses that we always do. First and foremost, the player perspective, does it make us better? Cap, and so on and that sort of thing.
Question: Are you comfortable with J.T. Compher as a second line center in the playoffs?
MacFarland: Yes, we’re very comfortable with not just J.T., we have Alex Newhook who can play there, Evan Rodrigues has played there. We know Mikko can slide in there, so we’ve got a lot of flexibility in the middle of the ice for coach Bednar to utilize as he sees fit.
Question about Gabriel Landeskog and Erik Johnson being considered trade pieces coming back:
MacFarland: I understand that, you know, that thought. Gabe’s our captain. He’s a really important player for us in so many areas, and he’s missed the whole season, so getting him back at any point in time is going to be a massive, massive upgrade for us and really important in so many ways. And Erik, he played all year and obviously we miss him on the back end. So hopefully we’ll be able to see them at some point.
Question: Is there any thought of, given the cap situation and what it will be next year, in looking for guys that just have a little bit of term for that flexibility?
MacFarland: I think you can look at it two ways, right? If they don’t have term, depending on how much the cap goes up, there could be advantages to that for us. And if they do have term, then we have to look at how the puzzle pieces fit together and that impact on other things that we may look to do or not do. I think we’ve got to be careful, based on the initial thought that the cap is going to go up a million dollars. That’s not a real big chunk. So we’ve got to be mindful of what we do, in that regard, if they do have term. Again, though, if it makes sense and it makes us better than it through all those lenses, then it’s not something that we’ll shy away from.
Question: How optimistic are you that he’s (Landeskog) going to be ready to come back by the end of the regular season?
MacFarland: That’s a good question. That’s something that we’re still, our medical staff or the doctors and Gabe himself, will obviously control. He’s a really important piece. We’ve missed him all year, but I think there’s more info to glean as we move along here in the next few days and weeks.
Question: With Erik, do you feel like the team needs to reach a conclusion about that in the next few days, given how it can affect what you can and can’t do at the deadline?
MacFarland: Yeah, I think we’ll have those discussion and we’ll be able to gauge whether one or both of them are in that situation.
Question: J.T’s having the best season of his career. Have you guys had any discussions with representation around an extension?
MacFarland: I’m not going to comment on contract negotiations with any player. Not just J.T., we have a lot of guys that are potentially UFA’s, so at the appropriate time, we’ll silo that.
Question about balancing bringing in guys versus being able to restock their own cupboards
MacFarland: I think that’s part of what our job is, right? You know, with Joe and Kevin and our scouts, we’ve got to keep one eye on the now and this group has battled hard all year. I know their expectations are to continue to push the envelope and get in and do some damage. Hopefully we’re going to find a way to do that. But also, we spent a lot of draft capital and prospects over the last few years. Fortunately last year, you know, that paid off due to the job that our coaches and players did, you know? But that doesn’t — there are a lot of teams that are good hockey teams this year and pushing chips to the middle, and only one team’s going to be successful. So I think we’ve gotta be mindful of that with the capital we’ve spent in past years, but again, if it makes sense, we’ll strike.
Question about how the front office values character when looking for additions.
MacFarland: I don’t know if it’s just this deadline. I think it’s something we try to live with every day and with every player that we potentially — whether we sign as a free agent or look to acquire by a trade or waivers. I think our leadership group does a great job. That’s something from draft to outside acquisitions that is an important part of our puzzle that we want to bring in not only good hockey players, but good people. I think that’s been a key part of the last few years, on-ice character and off-ice character is certainly a part of that. Whether that incorporates conditioning, being a good teammate, everything that ties into that. Taking care of yourself. I think Gabe and Nate and our leadership group, Cale, Mikko, Erik, all the veteran guys do a great job leading. And the expectation is to win, and I think that drives it.
Question on his confidence level in the current group as it’s constructed.
MacFarland: I have the utmost faith in our guys. I think this group, doing what they did last year, I think they’ve shown they’re a battle tested group. They’re going to work hard, and they’re going to give everything they have to try and do what they did again. Terry, it’s not easy to do, as you know. If it was, everybody would figure out a way to do it. There’s a lot of good hockey teams on both sides that have similar goals and only one team does it. But we really feel good about our group. They’ve battled a lot of adversity this year, like a lot of other teams. Injuries are part of it, but we think they’ve got the wherewithal to do some damage. We just got to get one of those eight tickets.
On the concern level around Landeskog’s injury and recovery.
MacFarland: I’m not going to comment on longer term. He’s doing everything he can to get back, and we’re very hopeful that he will at some point.
Same question with Erik Johnson.
MacFarland: It’s multiple weeks, and I think that’s where we’re going to have it. I know we don’t expect him back in the next couple of weeks, that’s for sure.
Question on experiencing the trade deadline for the first time as a general manager.
MacFarland: I’m on the phone with the other GMs whereas in the past Joe certainly had those relationships. So I think that’s one of the things that, for me, was different, but in terms of being the GM, I’m still talking with Joe and Kevin and our scouts and gathering the information and seeing what makes sense and what doesn’t. So I think we all work together really well, and it’s certainly a team effort. That hasn’t changed at all.
Question on the purpose of the Kinkaid acquisition.
MacFarland: I think it for depth, you know. Frankie’s hurt here. That’s another one that we have to monitor. And in the playoffs you carry three goalies, right, and you bring a goalie with you on the road. We want to make sure that the Eagles are covered as well. And you don’t have an opportunity after Friday to really add a goaltender. So we thought that made sense to give us some added depth and protect us in that position because it’s it’s a finite number, right. So we felt that it made sense to add a veteran guy that has experience at both levels and can step in and chip in for both.
Question: How are you approaching the first-round draft pick that you have this season given that you don’t have as many draft picks after that?
MacFarland: First-round picks are obviously high-octane assets, right? So you want to be careful with them. But again, if it makes sense, it makes sense. So I think that’s the best way to look at it. You’ve seen some of the deals here recently that have happened and the players that were able to be acquired using that type of an asset so they’re their big assets this time of year. We’ve used some draft capital in the past as you guys all know, and pushed our chips into the middle last year in terms of picks and prospects. So it’s something we talk about, but again if it makes sense then we will look to improve the team.