The NHL off-season is in full swing for 28 of the 32 NHL teams, including the Colorado Avalanche. Last week, we took a look at second line center options, and we’ll continue to update things as the summer moves along.
Today, it’s time to take a look at what trade assets the Avalanche have that they might use to improve the team this summer. Like the trade board, this list may change, although I don’t expect it to change all that much. The reason why?
Well, they don’t exactly have many valuable trade assets to begin with.
All the moves from the last few years have really left the Avalanche low on assets. They don’t have a ton of draft picks left, the prospect pool is one of the worst in the league, and nearly half the roster is about to become unrestricted free agents.
So what exactly do they have that could be on the move? Let’s take a look.
Girard is coming off his best offensive season in the NHL, as he really picked things up after the New Year, finishing with 37 points in 76 games, including a career high 6 goals.
There are reasons why his name name keeps coming up, and one of them is his contract. It’s incredibly valuable. A top four defenseman who’s only 25 years old locked in for four more seasons at $5 million holds a lot of value. So why would the Avalanche move a contract like that?
I don’t know if they really want to, but if you want to get something valuable, you’ll have to give up something of value. The reality is, trading Girard is a risky venture until the Avalanche know what’s happening with Devon Toews. With Bowen Byram never having completed a full season, and Josh Manson getting older, you simply can’t move Girard unless you know Toews is sticking around. Heck, even if you know Toews is sticking around, there’s risk to it, because they traded away most of their top defensive prospects.
If they know that’s happening with Toews, and decide to make Girard available, teams will be interested, but the Avalanche aren’t giving him away. A top six forward with term has to be included.
2023 First Round Pick
We now know the pick will be 27th overall, but will they make the pick? A late first round pick isn’t likely to play in the NHL for a handful of years, if they ever make it at all. This is a good draft, but this is a team built to win now, as all of their star players are right in the prime. This first round pick could easily be used to help the team get some immediate help.
2024 First Round Pick
The Avalanche might not want to go two straight seasons without picking in the first four rounds of a draft, and decide to keep their 2023 first. If they do that, there’s nothing stopping them from moving next years pick. You’re talking about a player who might be even further out from making an impact than the 2023 pick. The 2024 first also holds a bit of mystery around it, as there’s always a chance it’s a higher pick than 27th overall. It wouldn’t be the first time the Avalanche moved their future first the summer before, as they did it in 2021 to acquire Darcy Kuemper.
I think the odds of Devon Toews getting traded are pretty low. Even if they can’t come to an agreement on an extension in the summer, the Avalanche may not care. They may prefer to just keep Toews for a year, as he’s too important to trade away in a season where they want to win. In the past, the Avalanche haven’t exactly been a team that cares too much about asset management, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if that happens.
But…there’s always an outside chance it happens. That next contract will see him making big money well into his 30’s, and he’s earned that. That’s not a contract Colorado has typically loved handing out, and they may decide to bite the bullet and make that move. Trading a top pairing defenseman is an incredibly risky decision, though.
Newhook has put up pretty similar numbers in his two NHL seasons, but is only 22 years old. How the Avalanche view him is one thing, but how other teams view him is another. There’s still an outside chance he becomes a top six forward for this team. He’s still plenty young enough where it could happen, but this past season probably has you questioning it a bit more, as all of his scoring rates went down. He’s up for a new contract, but it’s not likely to be a very expensive one.
This team only has 5 forwards signed for next season (6, if you want to include Ben Meyers), and one of those 5 is Valeri Nichushkin, whose future is clouded in mystery at the moment. Trading an NHL forward would absolutely require getting another one back. If they can find an upgrade, it does make some sense. If you don’t believe he’s got a top six future, do you move him while he’s still young and holds value?
Olausson just completed his first full season in the AHL, and his numbers aren’t blowing anyone away. 20 points in 63 games, but he did pick up 3 points in 6 playoff games. He’s still incredibly young at just 20 years old, and one of the top prospects in the organization. His numbers did drop a fair bit late in the year, and he was scratched a lot down the stretch, although it was never truly announced if it was due to health or not. He would hold value in a trade, but then you’re emptying the cupboard even more.
This one is a bit of a wild card. Malgin scored at a 20 goal pace for the Avalanche this year, but also shot almost 17%. For a career 11% shooter, that doesn’t seem sustainable. They acquired him for pretty much nothing. Turning around and moving him while his value might be its highest could be the smart play, looking at it from an asset management perspective.