The NHL had some vigorous action this weekend with the three-cornered Brassard trade and Rick Nash moving to the B’s leaving us to wonder if the final day has any steam left for a push. I think there will be, the usual depth swapping always happens along with the semi-famous. The Erik Karlsson hype train is running at TGV speeds but it’s tough to justify a trade like that for anyone at this time of year.
Everything comes to a close this afternoon at 3pm ET but there will be deals trickling in for hours past that as they get approved by the league.
What to Watch
The Avs might take it easy today, here’s what we’ve been checking out over the past month to get an idea of their thinking:
Standings: The Avs are treading water at slightly less than .500 over the past month, which isn’t good enough. That said, they’re still only 4 points out of the final spot with 2 games in hand. That’s a testament to either how illusive standings are or how bad everyone else is. They really should be dropping like a rock but St Louis’ collapse along with mediocre play from LA and Anaheim keep the dream alive. Regardless, they should be looking at selling rather than buying.
Injuries: Nothing new this week and no one returned. Rosters are now unlimited so they can activate anyone they want an not have to send a player to San Antonio. I have a feeling that barring a trade Siemens & Warsofsky are with the Avs for the rest of the year, Toninato as well. Right now Bernier, EJ, Lindholm, Barberio, Andrighetto and good ol’ Kamenev are on the injured list.
New/Increased Roles: We got a look at life without EJ and Lindy. It wasn’t pretty, 2 overtime games and a blowout loss. Tyson Barrie is in the #1 role and can’t handle it. Zadorov has been benched twice. Nemeth plays too much. On the positive side, Sam Girard has picked up his play over the past week and is taking the additional responsibility in stride. David Warsofsky has handled both regular shifts and even some PK just fine. The revelation is Duncan Siemens, long thought to be out of the picture for the Avs he’s handled the past few games quite well and earned praise from the coach. I don’t know if a late-season run like this can change the Avs long-term plans but at worst he’s another internal solution to a problem they’ve had all year on the bottom pair. Andrei Mironov was re-assigned to the Rampage on Sunday, which seems a little odd but he wasn’t playing at all. That does leave the Avs with just 6 defensemen however.
There have been a few benchings and demotions over the past few games among the forwards. The most noticeable is Tyson Jost moving up a line and JT Compher moving to the 4th. Compher played more than 10 minutes at Calgary so this might have been a message plus trying to make the 4th more viable. Nail Yakupov has been healthy scratched a bunch lately and I think the experiment is reaching the end with him.
Scouts in Attendance: All over the place as usual and as I’ve said each week this is a hindsight indicator.
Who’s in Play Today
The Avs injury situation and lack of push up the standings has them in a bad spot where they have little to sell and little reason to buy. The defense is decimated by injuries and the easiest sale, Mark Barberio, is one of those. Adding an experienced defenseman will be tempting but they must resist unless it’s a like-for-like involving someone like Nemeth or Bigras, who are expiring RFAs. Of the forwards discussed over the past month there’s still a market for Comeau, Soderberg and Wilson but not a strong one. I don’t get the feeling that Comeau will move and Soderberg looks like something that happens in the next year but probably not today. My call is that the Avs surprise the hell out of everyone and trade Colin Wilson today. They do have the forward depth to replace him and since he has no real role anyway it’s not hard to fill.
We all love AHL trades right? I know, but the Rampage are in a little bit of a crunch right now. They played with just 16 skaters Saturday night and the Eagles only dressed 13 so there’s a bit of a deficit in the minors thanks to a boatload of injuries all over the place. My great hope was that Rocco Grimaldi could find a new home at the deadline but he’s out with UBI so it looks like he’ll become a Group VI Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1st and the Avs won’t get anything back for him. There are a couple other players that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Avs moved but nothing that would affect the NHL roster.
I’m pretty torn on what constitutes a successful deadline for the Avalanche. After last year’s catastrophe there’s little room to go anywhere but up. Blake Comeau, Gabe Bourque, Mark Barberio & Jonathan Bernier (and Andrew Hammond sort of) are the club’s expiring UFAs in the NHL and letting them get to expiration without compensation hurts the organization. Barbs & Bernie are hurt so there’s nothing they can do about that and Bourque (and Hammond) don’t have much, if any, value. The real question is whether trading Comeau has to be done. If he signs elsewhere this summer then the answer is yes in hindsight. If the Avs know right now they can’t or won’t re-sign him then the answer is yes outright.
If they are not going to trade Comeau then I think they do need to make some moves that load up the draft portfolio or prospect pool in some way. Whether that’s moving on from one of the guys with term like Wilson or some of the RFAs that aren’t in the long-term plans doesn’t matter. Get something out of someone that doesn’t need to be there, create some space and show that they can move on from a player before they become worthless.
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Even though the Avs look to be on the sidelines for this deadline (again) we have some fun things planned for today. We will have our Burgundy Rainbow staff chatting in the TDL Voice Channel all day, with your questions not only welcome but needed, and there will be a live taping of the Burgundy Radio Podcast late this afternoon, which you are all invited to sit in on. Any questions or topics you’d like to see addressed hit up the Trade Deadline Mailbag and let us know.