I was sent so many questions last week by Colorado Avalanche fans that I had enough leftover for another mailbag.
Last week, we touched on how Devon Toews might be an option for trade if they can’t agree on an extension, if a second line center or big winger is more important, and what the morale of the locker room was by the end of the season.
This week? Well, as you can imagine, second line center is and will continue to be a hot topic around the team. In addition, with the news of Landeskog missing all of next season, do the Avalanche push a little harder to re-sign J.T. Compher?
Let’s dig in.
From Chris: Do you see any trade targets that may work to solve the 2C issue?
Where do we start? Every center that might be available in a trade will come with some flaws, but that’s why they’re not top line players. That’s also why they might be available in a trade. When the Avalanche acquired Nazem Kadri back in 2019, he came with some question marks too, so you can’t expect a perfect player.
If you take a look at the top trade targets at DailyFaceoff, you’ll see a handful of centers (They also have Sam Girard at #3…), so there may be options, depending on what Colorado can swing.
Let’s start with Kevin Hayes. The Avalanche were rumored to be sniffing around Hayes at the deadline, but that’s not the first time they’ve been interested. They looked at him when he was a free agent a few years back, and tried to sign him out of College too. Hayes has three years left on his deal at a little over $7 million, but the Flyers are apparently willing to retain. Retaining will always increase the cost to acquire someone, however. At 30, he’s leaving his prime, but perhaps a bigger question is – is he a center anymore? The Flyers moved him to wing earlier in the year and he spent most of the year there. He’s played center in the past, but just food for thought. He’s also only hit 50 points once in his career. The 6’5″ forward would definitely add some size down the middle, but skating may be an issue.
Next, we’ll take a look at Elias Lindholm. Changes are in order for the Flames after a disappointing season, but no one knows the extent of those changes. Of all the players I’ll mention, he’d be the best fit, but he also might be the most expensive. To acquire him, I imagine you’d be kissing that first round pick goodbye, and then some. In addition to it being expensive to trade for him, it would be expensive to sign him long-term. He’s got one year left on a nice deal, and will be an unrestricted free agent after that. Lindholm is a terrific two-way player and would fit in really well behind MacKinnon. Does Calgary try to trade Lindholm if he won’t agree to an extension this summer? Certainly a possibility.
Evgeny Kuznetsov îs probably the most talented player the Avalanche could target, but comes with the most question marks. Production dropped in a big way for him in 2022-23, so you wonder if he’s starting the decline as he moves into his 30’s. He also makes a lot of money, with a $7.8 million cap hit for two more years. Colorado could not fit that in without the Capitals retaining a little bit. Not sure it’s really worth it with all the question marks around him, but figured he was worth a mention.
There’s a lot of other options as well. We’ve mentioned Nick Schmaltz a fair bit before, but he’s another guy who has spent a lot of time at wing recently. Winnipeg has Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele, but trades inside the division are always tough and both of them come with some question marks. Adam Henrique is still an option, but at 34, he’s not a long-term option. Jack Roslovic is an intriguing name, but not exactly a great fit at second line center.
Without a ton of assets to move, MacFarland will have to work some magic to find a center who fits in behind MacKinnon. At least it looks like there may be options, even if some are better than others. We’ll dig into what assets the Avalanche have to trade in the future here at CHN.
From Brendan: Does this (Landeskog news) increase the likelihood of bringing back J.T.?
I don’t think it changes much, to be honest with you. The Landeskog injury, in a perfect world, is only for one more year. The issue with a Compher contract is that it will cost a lot of money for a long time. You’re not just signing him for one year until Landeskog comes back, you’re signing him for several years, so you can’t just think short-term here. Landeskog’s injury situation doesn’t change the biggest issue with a Compher extension – he’s just not a second line center. Good player, but not someone you want to overpay.
That’s why I don’t think the news will change how the Avalanche approach the situation.
From Christopher: Would ROR even consider coming back?
In short, yes. I think ROR would go anywhere as long as he gets paid. There’s very few people still left from when he was here, and plenty of time has passed. I don’t think that would be an issue. From what I understand, he’s still friends with a lot of those guys off the ice, or at least was. But if he’s looking for term, I don’t think he’s going to get that with the Avalanche. He’s 32, and has always tried to get as much money as he can. Colorado just isn’t really in a position to do something like that. You definitely touch base with him when July 1 hits, but unless the market really doesn’t develop for him, I think it would be unlikely he returns. Definitely the type of player you want behind MacKinnon, though.
From Chase: Where do we pick in this years draft and do you think avs end up making the pick or trading it?
We’ll dig into the draft soon. If I had to make an early guess, I’d say no, the Avalanche don’t end up making the pick, but it’s really early. It’s really their best non-roster trading chip if they’re looking to improve the team right now.
As for where the pick will land, my understanding is anywhere between 23-26. Florida beating the Maple Leafs is good for the pick, as the teams in the conference finals automatically take the final four picks of the first round. A Panthers win means Colorado’s pick moves up in the draft.
From Glen: I do not believe the team can address a 2C and top 6 until the cap and Landeskog’s availability is known. Cogliano, Helm, Nieto, and Eller may all be gone. The Avs need bottom 6 scoring and leadership. Do the Avs realistically have anyone in the AHL to come right in?
I asked MacFarland this on Tuesday, and he mentioned a lot of the most recent signees – Ben Meyers, Sam Malinski, Ondrej Pavel, and Jason Polin. He also mentioned Justus Annunen, which was interesting, but the Avalanche have two NHL goaltenders signed for next season already. I’ve heard Pavel is a guy who might get a long look next year. There won’t be much offense, but he plays a really heavy game and is strong defensively.
One name MacFarland didn’t mention was Jean-Luc Foudy, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. He had a terrific start to the year with the Eagles, and I liked him in his stint with the Avalanche, but he was injured a lot of the second half, and didn’t play at all in the postseason. If there was anyone on the Eagles who could jump in and add some creativity to the bottom six of the Avalanche, it’s him, but there are still some holes in his game that need some work.
From DNFTO: Any way the Landeskog injury accelerates the timeline for Kovalenko by a year?
I highly doubt it. I get asked this a lot, but not only would the final year of Kovalenko‘s KHL contract have to be bought out, but he’d have to want to come over right away. My understanding is that he wants to finish that KHL contract out, and come over when he’s ready to hit the ground running.
If he did come over, it would be a huge win, as he’d be a nice addition to the team, but don’t expect it.