Updates on the Avalanche & Golden Knights – August 14, 2017
Possible trade candidates for the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are examined in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien looked at some of the burning questions facing the Colorado Avalanche approaching this season.
While noting the trade rumors regarding forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, he suggests moving the contract of defenseman Erik Johnson ($6 million annual average value through 2022-23) if the club fails to show signs of improvement.
If Duchene and/or Landeskog are to be traded, O’Brien suggests hanging onto them in hopes of driving up their trade value, rather than deal for a position of weakness.
With Calvin Pickard lost to expansion and with Semyon Varlamov having only two years left on his contract and backup Jonathan Bernier on a one-year deal, the Avs must decide how they’ll handle their goaltending for the long term.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Three years after their promising 2013-14 season in which they finished second in the Western Conference standings, the Avalanche are a mess. Changes are necessary but general manager Joe Sakic faces a daunting challenge.
For all the chatter that Sakic “must” trade Duchene before training camp, the Avs GM doesn’t appear keen to slash his asking price for the 26-year-old forward. If he sticks by it, Duchene could open the season in Colorado.
We haven’t heard much about Landeskog in the rumor mill since the March trade deadline. That doesn’t mean teams aren’t interested in him but I daresay his 33-point performance last season adversely affected his trade value.
If no one meets Sakic’s price for Duchene or Landeskog, I expect he’ll retain them both. Sure, it could be difficult for both guys and pose an unnecessary distraction for the coming season. But better that than making a bad trade. Both players could also be motivated to improve this season. That could not only bolster their profiles in the trade market, but it could also improve the Avs this season.
Moving Johnson’s contract is easier said than done. When healthy, he’s a good all-around blueliner but he’s been hampered by injuries throughout his career. He’ll turn 30 in March and that could also make him a tough sell. If Sakic decides to move Johnson, he could be forced to pick up part of that $6 million annual cap hit.
Losing Pickard to the expansion draft significantly hurts the Avs long-term goaltending plans. I doubt they’ll re-sign Varlamov and Bernier is simply a stop-gap measure. Addressing that issue should be a priority for Sakic, either through the draft or via trade.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: With defenseman Nate Schmidt now under contract, Jared Clinton recently suggested the Vegas Golden Knights must get busy clearing their logjam on the blueline. They now have 11 rearguards under one-way NHL contracts. Only one, Shea Theodore, is exempt from waivers. Jon Merrill, Griffin Reinhart and Brad Hunt could hit the waiver wire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Golden Knights GM George McPhee is waiting until training camp/preseason in hopes a rival club or two becomes desperate for blueline help. Merrill, Reinhart or Hunt could be trade candidates. McPhee could also peddle Clayton Stoner or Luca Sbisa.
I don’t think Jason Garrison will be shopped, in part because McPhee could look to him to provide some leadership and puck-moving skills to his defense corps. Schmidt and Theodore aren’t available and I can also see McPhee sticking with Colin Miller and Brayden McNabb.