Did the Avs Build For a Brighter Tomorrow?
by Matt Krulikowski
Colorado trades G Craig Anderson to for G Brian Elliot Ottawa
This was a deal that needed to be done. The struggling Anderson, who was going to be a
at the end of the season, was unlikely to re-sign. Elliot (also struggling) is younger, shows a little potential, and may benefit from a change in scenery. Elliot is a RFA at the end of the year, but will most likely re-sign. UFA
This move allows GM Greg Sherman more time to shop around for a young goalie who the team could build around for years to come.
- Avs get E. Johnson, J. McClement, and 2011 or 2012 1st round pick. Send K. Shattenkirk, C. Stewart, and 2011 or 2012 2nd round pick to Blues.
After talks with LA for young goalie Jonathan Bernier did not go so well, Sherman decided to bring in a former 1st overall pick and franchise defenseman in Erik Johnson. Johnson has a ridiculous amount of potential and he is a player that you can build a team around. Jay McClement will partially replace the offense lost by the departure of Stewart, and the 1st round pick will bring in a top prospect at this year or next year’s draft.
The price for getting Johnson was hefty, though. The Avs had to give up a consistent scorer in Chris Stewart and a great young defenseman (who participated in the 2011 NHL All Star Skills Competition) in Kevin Shattenkirk. Stewart’s scoring will be replaced (hopefully) by Peter Mueller, last year’s deadline addition, who missed last year’s playoffs and a lot of this year with a concussion. As of right now, he is skating, but there is no timetable for his return (expect him back next season).
-Avs get D Shawn Belle, Oilers get D Kevin Montgomery
This was nothing more than a depth trade, although the Oilers needed to trade Belle on account that they had too many veterans on their AHL affiliate. The two players have almost identical numbers (only a 1 point difference). Belle, a 6’1” defenseman, has played 5 games this year for the Oilers, but spent most of the season in the AHL. He can step up and play some minutes in the NHL if need be, but Belle will most likely be in the minors for the remainder of the season.
-Liles Stays in Denver
There were a lot of rumors swirling around that defenseman John-Michael Liles was going to be moved to the Maple Leafs. The deal would have given the Avs about $4mil more in cap space that could have been used to bring in a goalie (Vokoun was rumored as a possibility but never could be confirmed).
With the acquisition of Johnson, the Avs are now able to easily move Liles without hurting the defensive core a whole lot. I would not at all be surprised to see him traded before this time next year.
LA said that young goalie Jonathan Bernier was on the market, but the Avalanche were unable to land him. Bernier has the potential to solve the goalie problem for almost any team in the NHL. The emergence of Jonathan Quick as an elite goaltender this year made it easy for LA to have Bernier on the trade block, but none of the deals they were offered made sense to them.
In the offseason I expect the Avs to go after Bernier again, possibly offering O’Reilly as the foundation of trade. O’Reilly is a good young forward, but it would be necessary to move him to go to get Bernier. The Avs are deep at the center position with Duchene, Statsny, McClement, and Fleischmann so moving O’Reilly makes sense.
Look for a big off season this year for the Avalanche, as about half their roster become free agents at the end of the season (6 UFAs and 10 RFAs). Of the UFAs, I expect Hejduk, Foote, and Fleischmann to be re-signed. That is if Foote and Hejduk do not retire. Budaj may also be re-signed in case they cannot land a goalie for the future, and Koci could re-sign if they are still in need of a tough guy. Of the RFAs, I expect Galiardi and Stoa to definitely be re-signed. The other RFAs will be either re-signed or moved, any of them could have either happen to them.
This deadline saw a huge trade happen for the Avs, one that has a little risk to it. The Avs lost a very talented young defenseman and one of their best forwards. However they brought back a future Norris candidate and a 1st round pick. With their strength on offense they really needed to add that X-factor on D that Johnson is starting to become.
The Avs definitely built for a brighter off-season and next year with the moves at this deadline.