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Avalanche Mailbag: Is a Toews Trade a Possibility? Second Line Center or Big Winger?



Devon Toews Avalanche

It’s officially the off-season for the Colorado Avalanche, which means there’s a lot of questions about what the team will do in the summer heading into next season. “A lot” might be an understatement, as I was sent so many that I’ll have enough for another mailbag next week.

And guess what? I’m ready to answer those questions…to the my best of my abilities, at least.

So let’s get started for today.

From KhemHem: Ideally, I’d like them to move Sammy for a 2C. But if they cant/won’t and sign Bo long term rather than a bridge deal, is Toews the odd man out? He would provide the most return too.

I think a lot of people assume Sam Girard might be the odd man out if the Avalanche have to trade anyone on defense. Girard is locked up at a $5m cap hit for the next four seasons, which is extremely reasonable and quite frankly, a very good deal. Why trade someone on a good deal like that, especially with a tight cap situation? The only way you make a deal with Girard is if a top six forward with term is coming back.

Byram’s contract is just a matter of both sides agreeing on a short-term or long-term deal. There are risks to both options for all parties involved, and we’ll dig into that this summer. It’s a tough one to predict, but he’s not going anywhere.

But another issue looming over the Avalanche will be an extension for Devon Toews. There are a lot of factors to consider here. He has one year left on his current deal at $4.1M, and will be in line for a big raise. The cap is scheduled to go up next summer (2024), so there’s a chance there will be room, but how much is Toews going to ask for? A year after Toews’ contract is up, Mikko Rantanen needs a new deal, so it never ends. If the Avalanche don’t believe they will have the room to fit a big Toews contract in, then moving him this summer makes sense, looking at it from an asset management standpoint. Toews will be 30 when his next contract kicks in, and Colorado has typically avoided giving term to players over 30 in recent years. At the same time, Colorado hasn’t exactly been one to care about moving UFA’s to get trade value in the past. They may believe it’s more valuable to have Toews for one more year, even if there is a risk of losing him for nothing. This team is built to win now, after all.

Conceivably, the Avalanche would get a hefty return for Toews, but trading a top-flight defenseman is a tough pill to swallow. I don’t believe Byram is an option to be traded, but I could see a world where a Toews or Girard are moved to help out the rest of the roster this summer. The Avalanche aren’t able to officially sign Toews to an extension until July 1, but they likely will have some sort of idea of what he’s looking for before that. The team is heavy on talent on defense. Redistributing some of that to the forward group via trade makes sense, given how little production they got beyond the big guns at forward. It can’t just be for anything, though.

From Luke Hocking: The avs had hard forchecking/board battle winning wingers either playing hurt or out in Lehkonen, Landeskog, and Nuke. Could the avs look to add another wing with those attributes OVER trying to add a 2C? Then those wingers can help elevate the Cs we have in Newhook & Meyers

Sure, the Avalanche could look to add wingers to help insulate their centers more, especially if Landeskog’s injury situation lingers. I believe second line center should be the priority, but finding help in general for the top six is a must.

Arizona is one team you look at that might be able to provide options for both. Nick Schmaltz and Lawson Crouse were both rumored to be available at the trade deadline, and both would come with term, so we’re not talking about a short-term fix. Crouse is that big winger who would add that size along the wall that the team was missing in the playoffs. Schmaltz is the creative center who can make plays and has been a near point-per-game player the past two seasons.

It really comes down to what the team prefers, but I do believe a second line center needs to be the priority. They can’t enter another season hoping Newhook takes the reins.

From random avs goal every day: who would be a better fit for the avs, Adam Henrique or Nick Schmaltz?

If you give me the option, I’ll take Schmaltz. Fix the problem rather than put a band-aid on it. I like Henrique, but the appeal of him at the deadline was having two kicks at the can with him. With only one year left, that appeal has gone down a little bit. Plus, he’ll be 34 when he’s up for a new contract.

From Brendan Jordan: Please explain why having a legit #1 goalie going into next season is such a relief to not have to worry about anymore

Definitely. The Avalanche have had to spend assets to acquire a goaltender for two straight summers. Four draft picks and a prospect, to be exact. Those deals take a toll on your system. They’ve both worked out, but it’s nice knowing that you don’t have to worry about that for two more years, and can focus on the rest of the team. Plus, they’ve got Georgiev locked in on a deal that now looks to be a steal. That gives you more cap space to work with for the rest of the team, although it’s hard to spend less money on goaltending than the Avalanche do.

From Lindsay May: Mostly out of curiosity, wondering about the morale of the locker room and how it fluctuated towards the end of the season?

I would use the word “exhausted” to describe the locker room at the end of the year. Even Bednar said he was done being frustrated a long time before the season ended. The team was very focused down the stretch to win the Central division, but I think the long season just wore them out. Every time they thought someone was coming back, another player got hurt. After Game Seven, there was disappointment, but pride in how they battled to end the year. All that battling caught up to them, I believe.

That exhaustion is evident in the fact that only Rantanen has been confirmed as going to the World Championships. Everyone else is taking advantage of a long summer.

From Bobby: When are the Avs sending out the actual injury report?

I’m starting to think it isn’t coming…

At least we found out Lehkonen‘s injury.

From Kyle: How active in trades do you think the Avs will be at the draft?

Active, in my opinion. We went over the free agents that will be available this summer. It’s not an impressive list. If the Avalanche really want an upgrade in the immediate, it will likely come via trade.

I’ve held off on booking travel to the NHL draft because I’m not convinced the Avalanche are keeping that first round pick. Stay tuned.

With how many questions I received, look for another mailbag next week.

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