Avalanche of Trades Coming

By: Nick Lanciani

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We’re still about a month and a half away from this year’s NHL trade deadline, but it’s never too early to start talking about who might get traded or what teams will be active.

There’s a lot of chatter on Twitter in the last couple of days that Arizona Coyotes general manager, John Chayka, will be a busy GM from now through the deadline working the phones and trying to acquire assets. And of course, everyone knows the current dire situation of the Colorado Avalanche and the mountain of work that’s facing their general manager, Joe Sakic.

But let’s be realistic here for a moment– anything is possible.

Although, there’s probably one thing we can rule out at this point, and that’s the Montreal Canadiens trading P.K. Subban (because they already did that, in June, to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Shea Weber— what have you been under a rock for the last several months?).

While the Coyotes are likely to be unpredictable past the potentially looming Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan deals, Colorado is sure to be playing host to this year’s trade deadline fire sale and mostly predictable in regards to who may be dealt.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie has had his name tossed around more than a few times in the last couple of seasons, but recently the Av’s have taken a long hard look at trading forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.

With everybody but Nathan MacKinnon at their disposal, Sakic remains firm on driving a steep price for either Duchene or Landeskog.

Moving Duchene would likely yield a forward or a defenseman, but not much more, as those teams that have expressed interest do not seem to be all to bent on a package deal for the center who has two-years left on his contract at $6 million AAV. The 30 goal scorer last season has had two 65+ point seasons aside from last year’s 30-29-59 totals in 76 games played.

Duchene remains a tremendous attraction, but one that has been quietly shopped, most recently inquired about by the Carolina Hurricanes as per Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater.

Of course, the Pittsburgh Penguins remain very much in on trying to add a piece or two to their roster, as well as the Boston Bruins and just about anyone else, but that’s where Landeskog comes in.

It’s no doubt that Landeskog will be traded at some point or another. When is the golden question, considering how Sakic will continue to play hardball and could hold out until the Entry Draft in June when more teams are open to moving pieces that may or may not have previously been important to their successful/failed playoff run prior to June.

Boston has several pieces that they could be willing to move with Ryan Spooner, Joseph Morrow, Jimmy Hayes and others as “expendable”, however even the combination of Bruins GM Don Sweeney‘s dreams would not add up to the value of Landeskog alone or with other components.

Sakic is insistent on bringing home Colorado Springs native, Brandon Carlo, from the Bruins, but trading Carlo should be the last thing on Boston’s mind (along with disrupting any of their core players in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Tuukka Rask, just to name a few).

The B’s are buyers this season– and they have to be, in order to remain in the hunt, with Toronto a point behind after Tuesday night and five games in hand over the Bruins. But Boston cannot add and subtract, like they’ve seem to have done the last couple of seasons in lateral moves that have kept them complacent with their standing in the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh might be keen on moving a defenseman, such as Kris Letang, but Sakic remains stern on wanting to do more than just a one-for-one deal, considering the state of the rebuild in Colorado.

Of the teams with perhaps the best situation for trading (without looking into the salary cap, of course), the Los Angeles Kings could play the role of the dark horse that sweeps Landeskog away with a plethora of prospects in the AHL and a few options to trade from their NHL roster.

Any team that is willing or has room for Landeskog’s $5.571 million cap hit over the next five years is easily in the running behind closed doors and on phones we haven’t heard ring yet.

Among the other players likely to leave the Avalanche in an ever looming avalanche of trades, Jarome Iginla, Carl Soderberg, Patrick Wiercioch and Semyon Varlamov remain attractive options.

Iginla’s name has been tied to the Chicago Blackhawks in their annual search for an older veteran who’s looking to finally win the Cup, but there could be more teams at play, for the right price. Meanwhile, Soderberg’s name has gone under the radar, however he remains an attractive option for any team looking into solidifying themselves down the middle with a little veteran experience and NHL caliber seasoning.

Wiercioch appears to be the most expendable defenseman other than Barrie or Erik Johnson, but won’t pull enough weight in a deal on his own. A Wiercioch-Soderberg-something package certainly might be more appealing to a team looking to dump rental contracts in return.

Finally, Varlamov may be left exposed in the expansion draft if he isn’t moved prior to then. Certainly there are some teams that could utilize Varlamov’s starting goaltender status, including the Kings, Winnipeg Jets or others depending on their plans down the road (the Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and/or Penguins to name a few).

Though if there’s going to be a goalie moved at or before the deadline, it’ll likely be Ondrej Pavelec, Jaroslav Halak, Marc-Andre Fleury or Ben Bishop before other teams get on board with their plans to change things in goal before Vegas swoops in.

Look, it’s the end of an era one way or another for Colorado.

It’s just crazy that it might have to come down to trading Duchene and Landeskog (both top-5 draft picks in their respective draft years) to do so. Then again, things already got pretty crazy when Cody McLeod was sent to Nashville after spending his entire career until then in an Av’s uniform.