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NHL Trade Deadline 2024: Avalanche Trade Board 2.0



Weinberg NHL Trade Deadline

We are just eight days away from the NHL Trade Deadline coming and going in 2024, and after a small rush of deals during the NHL All-Star break, it’s been pretty quiet.

That is, up until Wednesday night. The Chris Tanev deal might be the beginning of the chaos leading into the deadline.

Two centers were dealt that occupied high spots on our previous trade board, and both deals showed that the cost to acquire a top nine center probably starts with a first round pick. Colorado still has a need down the middle, but what’s left for them on the market? And would any of them make a noticeable difference?

In net, Justus Annunen has played well of late, and Ivan Prosvetov is tearing it up in the AHL, but there’s still a chance the Avalanche look to acquire a more experienced backup. One popular option is off the board, though. Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t sound like he’ll be on the move at the NHL Trade Deadline, so if Colorado wants help in net, they’ll need to look elsewhere.

One final time, let’s take a look at who could be on Colorado’s trade board leading up to March 8.

C Adam Henrique

Age: 34

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

Not much has really changed since Henrique last appeared on this list, and with both Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan off the board, he’s probably the best center available at the NHL Trade Deadline that just happens to be a pending UFA.

Henrique is scoring at a higher rate than he was last season, and a solid face-off guy. Is he flashy? Not really. Is he a burner? Nope, and that would perhaps be one of the concerns in acquiring a guy like him, but he’s an intelligent player. Put Henrique with Valeri Nichushkin on your second line and I think this is a better team, but it’s not a move that is necessarily going to push the Avalanche over the top.

If you want to acquire Henrique, expect to pony up a first round pick. Colorado should pick late in round one, so the cost isn’t that big of an issue, but in order to acquire Henrique, the Avalanche might have to get a third team involved for more salary retention.

C Alex Wennberg

Age: 29

Contract: $4,500,000 million cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2024

Quite frankly, Wennberg should have been on the first trade board, but that was a glaring omission by yours truly. There’s a connection between Wennberg and the Colorado Avalanche, and it’s with the general manager. Chris MacFarland was a key member of the Columbus front office when they selected Wennberg in the first round back in 2013. There’s a level of familiarity there.

If you’re looking for a second line center, that’s probably not Wennberg. He’s essentially been a 30-40 point player since putting up 59 points way back in 2016-17. He’s just…fine. He takes a bunch of face-offs, but he’s not particularly good at them (46%). He plays a ton, more than any other Kraken forward, but he’s not doing a whole lot in that time offensively. His points-per-60 at 5-on-5 is 1.4, which is about what the Avalanche are getting out of Jonathan Drouin right now. He does play a lot on the penalty kill, and on Wednesday, Jared Bednar noted that all their penalty killers are wingers, indicating that might be something he wants changed, if possible, at the NHL Trade Deadline.

I doubt it would cost a first round pick to grab him at the NHL Trade Deadline, but does he really move the needle all that much? Stylistically, I think he’s a better fit for how the Avalanche like to play than a Ryan Johansen. You could put him between Nichushkin and Lehkonen and I bet he’d do okay, but I do have concerns about his ability to thrive in “playoff hockey.”

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

C Scott Laughton

Age: 29

Contract: $3,000,000 million cap hit, unrestricted free agent in 2026

Laughton is someone we talked about over the summer, as there were rumblings that the Flyers might deal him coming off the best season of his career. They didn’t, and for a while, it looked like a huge blunder. All of Laughton’s numbers crumbled this season, offensively and defensively, until he started turning things around after the All-Star break. Since then, he’s picked up 10 points in 10 games, and the Flyers have to be really thankful he did that. Now, they might be able to get some real value for him.

Laughton’s low cap hit until 2026 is what will bring value to any team looking to acquire him. That low cap hit also means the Flyers will likely ask for more, and he might not be worth it, at least to the Avalanche, who already have a third line center in Ross Colton that will make more than Laughton. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t help the team, but he doesn’t exactly fill a role that isn’t already filled. Definitely a player the staff would love, and you wonder if a player like him looks better with the Avalanche than he does with the Flyers, but given his season, there’s risk in expecting that.

C Morgan Frost

Age: 24

Contract: $2,100,000 million cap hit, restricted free agent in 2025

Now we reach the centers that are younger, have room to grow, but might not even be for sale.

Morgan Frost was in the doghouse in Philadelphia earlier this year, but seems to have worked his way out of it. However, if you aren’t consistent under John Tortorella, your ice-time will fluctuate based on how you’re playing.

Frost is a real good player and if he really is available at all, it’s a call the Avalanche should make. He’s a stylistic fit with Colorado, but there’s just no guarantee he’ll be on the move at the NHL Trade Deadline, so there’s only so much to say. The cost would not be cheap, and the Flyers don’t have to be in any rush to move him.

C Casey Mittelstadt

Age: 25

Contract: $2,500,000 million, restricted free agent in 2024

The perfect fit, but is he actually available? Their GM says he isn’t, but it sure sounds like they’re listening. That doesn’t mean he’ll get traded, and they don’t have to rush into a deal prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, but if the Sabres were all-in on Mittelstadt, wouldn’t an extension be pretty easy to get done? They’re not exactly sitting near the cap right now, and could fit one in pretty easily. He’s their leading scorer this season, so he’s doing his part.

Buffalo’s AGM was in Denver for a few games this month. Doesn’t mean anything is happening, as scouting occurs all year long, but just found it interesting. I have no doubt that if Mittelstadt is someone the Sabres are considering trading, the Avalanche would be calling. It just might more of an off-season move.

G Kaapo Kähkönen

Age: 27

Contract: $2,750,000 million, unrestricted free agent in 2024

All the talk of Fleury and Jake Allen, but would Kahkonen actually be the best goaltending option for the Avalanche? After a tough first year in San Jose, his underlying numbers this year are real strong. His goals save above expected is 4.1 on a very poor Sharks team, and they’ll probably look to take advantage of that. The cost I had potentially heard was a third round pick, something Colorado doesn’t own in 2024.

A UFA in the summer, but if you like what you see, could potentially bring back to keep pushing Georgiev.

G Jake Allen

Age: 33

Contract: $3,850,000 million, unrestricted free agent in 2025

There were rumblings that the Avalanche were close to acquiring him a few weeks ago, but that’s all they were – rumblings. Like Kahkonen, he plays for a bad team, so his raw numbers aren’t good, but his underlying look much better. Not as strong as Kahkonen’s, but decent. Under contract for next year, but do you want a backup that’s making more than your starter?

G Kevin Lankinen

Age: 28

Contract: $2,000,000 million, unrestricted free agent in 2024

The Predators have Juuse Saros, who has been rumored to be available, but a deal like that is difficult to make. Their most likely move to clear space in the NHL for Askarov is to deal Lankinen away. His numbers have plummeted since the last trade board we had, so this one seems less appealing, but still an option. If you’re targeting a guy like this, are you better off just playing Justus Annunen?

G Alex Nedeljkovic

Age: 28

Contract: $1,500,000 million, unrestricted free agent in 2024

Has played really well for the Pittsburgh Penguins this season (.915 save percentage), and doesn’t make a whole lot. A guy like this would make a ton of sense, and it’s “out there” that the Penguins might be looking to move a goaltender. He’s the most logical guy to get dealt when you look at what they have in the crease.

Other Names To Look At

C/W Zemgus Girgensons – A pending UFA, but not at all a guy I’d necessarily target. He hasn’t even really played center this year, but has size and can kill penalties. A move like this would be…underwhelming.

C Nic Dowd – The ultimate 4C, but apparently would cost a premium asset. Is that worth giving up just to get a depth center? No doubt an improvement on what they have, though.

D Joel Edmundson – Defense is down the list of what the Avalanche should prioritize, in my opinion, but Edmondson brings a little nastiness and can kill penalties. Likely wouldn’t be that expensive to bring in.

C/W Mikael Granlund – He completely bombed in Pittsburgh last year after being dealt, but has turned things around with the Sharks, playing both center and wing. His $5 million price tag for this year and next would complicate things.

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