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Avalanche Relinquish Rights To Top WHL Defenseman

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graham sward avalanche

It looked like the Colorado Avalanche might have added an intriguing prospect to their system when Graham Sward was thrown into the Yakov Trenin deal prior the NHL Trade Deadline.

It doesn’t appear he will be a part of the system any longer, though.

Colorado had until 3 PM MST on June 1 to sign Sward before they officially relinquishing his rights, and they did not sign him. A spokesman from the Avalanche confirmed that to CHN. As Sward turns 21 later this year, it doesn’t appear he is eligible to re-enter the draft and will become a free agent.

Sward had a big breakout season at the age of 20 for the Wenatchee Wild. He set career highs in every statistic, picking up 15 goals and 66 assists. That led to him being named the U.S. Division’s Defenseman of the Year back in April. After the season was over, he did sign with the Colorado Eagles on an amateur tryout, but never actually got into a game. Sward’s WHL numbers prior to this season were rather pedestrian, so he either took a big step this year or took advantage of being one of the older players in the league.

Is it mildly surprising the Avalanche did not sign him? I’d say a little bit. Colorado had to give up Jeremy Hanzel in the trade to get Trenin, so Sward coming back kind of evened things up. That won’t be the case anymore.

The Avalanche also are not going to sign goaltender Ivan Zhigalov to an entry-level deal and will relinquish his rights, but that’s hardly a surprise. The 21 year old goaltender has struggled since being drafted by Colorado in the seventh round back in 2022, and for the last year, has been unable to even find a net. He signed in the KHL earlier this summer, but just one day later, his contract was terminated. He has since signed a deal in the VHL over in Russia, which is one of their lower leagues.

I would not categorize either of these as huge losses, but it is newsworthy. Stay tuned to CHN as more news comes in.

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