Archive for the ‘Colorado Avalanche’ Category

David of Mile High Hockey on the Avalanche’s upcoming draft

June 15, 2009

Soooo the playoffs are officially over. We got a little ahead of ourselves by posting the contributions for the New York Islanders (from Dominik at Light House Hockey) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (from Raw Charge), but now that it’s appropriate we’re moving on to a team that used to never be in this position. That would be the Colorado Avalanche.

For the Avs, we asked David of Mile High Hockey to provide perspective on the Colorado Sakics. In case you haven’t been following things, it appears the Avs cleaned house … well, except for canning the one guy they really should have (Pierre Lacroix). As you will see from the MHH folks, it’s not really a time of high morale for the Avs.

But don’t be too negative, Colorado fans. They might actually do well with their third pick and that Paul Stastny fellow looks like a keeper (albeit a kind of expensive one).

ANYWAY, enjoy David’s contributions and be sure to follow the rapidly changing Avalanche franchise at Mile High Hockey. Thanks David!

1. So most (if not all) of the hype goes into the Tavares-Hedman debate. Do you feel like the Avs pulled the shortest straw in the draft lottery?

MHH: Honestly, no. The eight fans that the Avalanche have left are quite excited about Matt Duchene. We’ve sold ourselves so well on him that we’ve actually become a little delusional; there would be some pangs of disappointment if we went #2, sticking us with Tavares or Hedman.

2. With all the front office upheaval going on in Colorado, how confident are you that the Avalanche will be able to make the right choice with the #3 pick?

MHH: I’m terrified, frankly. I’m not all that worried that the Avalanche will screw up our first top-5 pick in 17 years. I am extremely worried that the Avalanche will trade the pick for some overprice, over-the-hill veteran.

3. Describe some of your favorite Avs’ (and/or Nordiques?) draft memories. Is there a pick that stands out as the best one they’ve made? Are there any steals that come to mind?

I can’t say that I have any specific draft memories that stand out. Joe Sakic at 15th overall has to stand out as as their best pick. I would love to type that Marek Svatos was a nice steal as a 7th round draft pick, but since Henrik Zetterberg was also a 7th round pick, I’ll keep it to myself.

4. On the other end of the fence, describe some of the lowest moments for the Avs (and/or Nordiques). Which decisions stick out as some of their worst in the draft? Which picks/overlooked players do you think the Avalanche regret the most?

I still remember the string of curse words flowing from me when I saw that the Avalanche had traded Alex Tanguay for Jordan Leopold. In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad of a trade for the Avs – they also got a couple of 2nd rounders, and Tanguay has faded – but it was still tough to see him go. Speaking of Tanguay, the Avalanche have had just one other 1st round pick (Wolski) make it in the NHL since Tanguay was drafted in 1998, so the list of picks the Avalanche regret the most is very, very long.

5. Feel free to add whatever else you’d like about the Avalanche and the NHL draft. How do you feel about the future of the team?

I don’t feel very good about the future. The Avalanche have drafted decently in recent years which has helped replenish a system bled dry by poor drafts and some questionable trades by Pierre Lacroix. But the jury is still out on whether or not the Avalanche have the right system to develop all the talent they’ve been acquiring, as a lot of players seem kind of stuck at “almost there”. And, oh by the way, Lacroix figures to be less subtle with his front office puppet show and should begin depleting said talent with flashy trades any day now.

Blogger GM vs. Real-life GM: Northwest division

March 12, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Northwest Division.

Real Life: Vancouver Canucks do nothing.

Zanstorm from Nucks Misconduct said:

“Something is going to go down by Wednesday. We officially have too many defencemen. I think Gillis may flog Shane O’Brien, Wellwood, or even Mason Raymond with a pick included to acquire either a top 6 forward or a 3rd line player.”

The ‘Nucks didn’t do anything. It looks like that could have been the right (non)move.

Real Life: Colorado Avalanche trade Jordan Leopold to Calgary Flames for two prospect D and a 2nd round pick in 2009.

Tapeleg from Jerseys and Hockey Love said:

“Ryan Smyth is going nowhere, let’s just get that out of the way. He has a no-trade, and doesn’t seem like he wants to leave. And frankly, I would have a long talk with him about how I felt he was performing and what his position would be if he didn’t have that clause, and try to get a better dollar to performance ratio going from him for next season.

After that, the list is extremely short. Maybe Ruslan Salei, or Jordan Leopold. For these guys, you need back what you are letting go, only a better incarnation, defensemen who can move the puck (the holy grail). Then you start getting into bag of pucks guys (I’m looking at you, Tyler Arnason) or guys no one really wants (Tucker, Hannan). And finally, the youth and picks, and I wouldn’t let those guys go. What are you going to do, dangle a Chris Stewart or a David Jones for a few picks? It won’t happen, and it shouldn’t.”

Tapeleg got Smyth and Leopold right, so that’s an emphatic Correct.

Real Life: Minnesota does nothing

Wild View from Section 216 said:

“The problem is Gaborik has no trade value right now. I’ve got to let him come back from his injury this season and hope that I can sign him to a one-year deal, then get something for him next year. The move I make is with Backstrom. I have an anemic offense and I’ve got to get some scoring.

I make a move on Backstrom because I have a good goalie in Josh Harding waiting for his chance and a defensive coach (understatement of the year). I also know there are teams looking to shore up their goaltending heading into the playoffs, and if I can get someone with slightly above-average scoring prowess, and if Gaborik comes back with some fire, suddenly I’ve got more offense to make this playoff push.

And that will make Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette, and Owen Nolan better instead of relying on them for all my scoring. And instead of making the playoffs as the 8th seed and losing to Detroit in the 1st round, maybe there’s a bit of run in this team after all.

Unfortunately, I’m not real Wild GM, and none of this will happen.”

Some bold stuff from Wild View. Both right and wrong (with the qualifying last sentence).

Real Life: Calgary Flames become the biggest factor in the trade deadline, acquiring Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold for 1st and 2nd round draft picks with prospects plus Matthew Lombardi.
Kent from Five Hole Fanatics pleaded for the Flames to move Todd Bertuzzi, but also:

“In addition, I would make a play for Jordan Leopold. The former Flame was slowed by injuries in Colorado, but was probably the best ever partner for shut-down man Robyn Regehr here in Calgary.

The Avs are out of the running and Leopold is under the radar thanks to his poor luck during his time there. He could probably be had for a prospect/pick and would instantly step into the divide left by the down-for-the-count Mark Giordano. Then, you can try to re-sign Leopold to take over for the departing Adrian Aucoin, who is UFA in July.”

Well done, Kent.

Real Life: Edmonton acquires Ales Kotalik, Patrick O’Sullivan and a second round pick for Erik Cole, a second round pick and a fifth round pick.

Wasn’t able to get an Oilers blogger, but Edmonton did a great job during the deadline.

If you were the GM (Northwest division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Vancouver
Zanstorm from Nucks Misconduct
(March 1)

Given the failure of Kyle Wellwood to emerge as a top 6 forward and now a 3rd line center, I’m thinking he’s either going to get traded or waived. In that case, a 3rd line center needs to be acquired. I don’t know about a certain center that is available that we should go after to fill that role.

Has Mark Recchi ever played center? He is the one guy that I would love to see in the 3rd line role and maybe even on one of the 2 power play units. He’d fit in well with the Sedins there.

And speaking of the Sedins, I don’t know how long Alex Burrows will be given a shot on the top line with them.

Personally, I’d rather see Burrows back on the 3rd line. Maybe Recchi could fill in a permanent spot with the Twins 5-on-5 and on the power play. He has a great presence around the net. (And he is a BC boy after all!)

Something is going to go down by Wednesday. We officially have too many defencemen. I think Gillis may flog Shane O’Brien, Wellwood, or even Mason Raymond with a pick included to acquire either a top 6 forward or a 3rd line player.

Some people say we need a puck-moving defenceman. I disagree. I think Bieksa, Ohlund, Salo and Edler fill that role already.

Is Gillis going to go big on a name like Keith Tkachuk? I really don’t know. He has mentioned that Mats Sundin was his big catch and that he doesn’t want to disrupt the team’s chemistry at the deadline. So that’s why I’m thinking a Recchi-type will be acquired. He’s a leader, a winner, and he won’t cost us too much, as we don’t have too much to offer.

Just my 2 cents.

Yankee Canuck from Nucks Misconduct
(March 1)

It feels like each NHL deadline brings with it the media suggesting everyone in the damn league, playoff bound or not, needs a “puck moving defensemen”. I say screw that; even though Vancouver is tied to Bouwmeester in recent rumors, their defense is more or less fine as is
and they don’t need top tier talent who they’d most certainly have to cough up a first round pick (which, if you’ve seen their farm system lately, you’d know damn well they need). In anything, with Vaananen now on board it suggests a D-man like Salo or O’Brien could be on the
move (or Ohlund assuming he’d waive his NTC).

Also with Vigneault’s man-child Rypien appearing near a return, a bottom six winger could be on the move too. And honestly that’s where Vancouver needs the most help: reinforcements on the wings, preferably a known scorer, a veteran or someone that inspires a bit more offensive confidence than the likes of Pyatt, Bernier or wherever the hell Wellwood is these days. Right now the Canucks are playing well enough to promote Kesler and Burrows, but if those two slow down or need to return to the third line in more of a shutdown mode, what their top six becomes gets mighty depressing without some deadline help.

If Mike Gillis can swing for a winger or two in exchange for a mid round pick, some of the aforementioned dead weight or a prospect not named Hodgson, Schneider or Grabner I’d call the deadline a win.

Chris Kontos:Tkachuk and Wellwood on the same team would be an amazing pairing… those guys should totally room together on the road. The room service bill would totally cut into the salary cap. I don’t think Tkachuk is going anywhere, but picking up Recchi would be a perfect fit and help continue Recchi’s quest to play for every NHL team.

James O’Brien: Some teams have a grind-it-out fate. The Vancouver Canucks seem to be one of those teams. Their lineup seems pretty solid, if unspectacular. Cannot offer much more than a “shrug” on the Canucks.

***

Colorado Avalanche

Mile High Hockey
(March 1)

Mired in last place and playing awful, awful hockey, the Colorado Avalanche are going to be sellers at the deadline. However, most of their bigger assets – guys like Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk – have no-trade clauses and a serious case of…well, whatever the opposite of wanderlust
is. In other words, they ain’t moving. How active the Avs are at the deadline will depend on Francois Giguere’s ability to convince someone that our useless dreck – guys like Darcy Tucker and Tyler Arnason – are the perfect pieces for a Stanley Cup run.

The Avalanche really need a goalie – hey, that “Lalongo” guy Don Cherry keeps raving about isn’t available, is he? Yeah, didn’t thinks so. In light of that, I will use the GM power vested in me to swing the following trade with the Boston Bruins: Ian Laperriere and Jordan Leopold for Manny Fernandez. All three players are unrestricted free agents this summer and have been mentioned in trade talks. The Bruins would get a puck moving defensemen they reportedly are coveting as well as terrific do-whatever-it-takes-to-win forward to improve the team both on the ice and in the locker room. Both players would help any team in the playoffs, and the B’s seem to be as good a fit as any. The Avalanche get that number one goalie they so desperately need. At 33, he’s no spring chicken, but beggars can’t be choosers. Oh, and my GM magic wand will force Fernandez to agree to an extension before the trigger is pulled on the deal.

That’s my GM for a day trade. It kills me to trade “Lappy” and the fans are going to hate me for letting him go, but contract talks have broken down and I need to be able to get something for him. Plus, he’ll get a chance to do a reverse Bourque, moving from Colorado to Boston to win a
Cup. Leopold is walking this summer no matter what, so his inclusion in a deal is a no-brainer. And Manny? I know about the knee and the age. I don’t care – he’ll be the best goalie we’ve had since the retirement of St Patrick.
Tapeleg from Jerseys and Hockey Love
(2/28)

It’s a strange position for the Colorado Avalanche, since this is the first time as a franchise that they have been sellers. But the question is, do they have anything to sell anyone wants?

When the biggest name on the list is Ian Laperriere, you know you have a problem. Lappy has been the heart and soul of the franchise for the last year, ever since Joe Sakic got hurt (aka: Super Joe vs Super Snow). He becomes a UFA at the end of the season, but if you could resign him, maybe trade him away and convince him to come back so you pick up a draft pick, then I would consider it.

Ryan Smyth is going nowhere, let’s just get that out of the way. He has a no-trade, and doesn’t seem like he wants to leave. And frankly, I would have a long talk with him about how I felt he was performing and what his position would be if he didn’t have that clause, and try to get a better dollar to performance ratio going from him for next season.

After that, the list is extremely short. Maybe Ruslan Salei, or Jordan Leopold. For these guys, you need back what you are letting go, only a better incarnation, defensemen who can move the puck (the holy grail). Then you start getting into bag of pucks guys (I’m looking at you, Tyler Arnason) or guys no one really wants (Tucker, Hannan). And finally, the youth and picks, and I wouldn’t let those guys go. What are you going to do, dangle a Chris Stewart or a David Jones for a few picks? It won’t happen, and it shouldn’t.

If I were making a long story short, you have to have a dance partner for a trade, and looking at this list, there would be very few dance partners out there. Hell, there may be very few dancers at all. The phone in GM Francois Gigurere’s office must have squeeze marks embedded in it, or have been thrown against the wall. Even being sellers, I think the Avs team we see now will be the same team we see for the last game of the season.

Chris Kontos:As a Kings fan, never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d see the day when the hated AV’s would be in last place. It’s been a long time coming for this team and only Joe Sakic can remember what it felt like to be a Quebec Nordique. This team needs a goalie. And Manny would be a great fit, but if I’m Boston, I’m not letting him go. If the Av’s are selling, a goalie, especially a young one must be coming the other way.

James O’Brien: While I agree that the Avalanche are quite poor in net, at least they are employing poor men in net. Their goaltending spending is quite Detroit Red Wings like – which is about the only similarity any longer between those two diverging rivals.

To me, the Avalanche employ quite a few middle-of-the-road defensemen for $3 million a pop. Ugh, this team is built on a Jenga-like foundation. To extend the childhood toy analogy, this team just needs to shake that etch-a-sketch and start all over with Paul Stastny and … I’m sure there’s SOMEONE else worth keeping on that roster. Right? Maybe?

***

Minnesota Wild

Wild View from Section 216
(2/27)

If I’m Wild GM in a world where the fans are about to revolt if my team doesn’t make the playoffs, I’m a lot more bold than real Wild GM Doug Reisbrogh (who lives in some kind of fantasy world where he thinks he is untouchable). I have two big decisions to make…what to do with UFAs F Marian Gaborik and G Niklas Backstrom. Gaborik has been injured for long periods of time in each of his nine seasons except one, and he has shown me no desire to stay in Minnesota long term. Backstrom is a goalie that emerged out of nowhere to be one of the top goalies in the league.

The problem is Gaborik has no trade value right now. I’ve got to let him come back from his injury this season and hope that I can sign him to a one-year deal, then get something for him next year. The move I make is with Backstrom. I have an anemic offense and I’ve got to get some scoring. I make a move on Backstrom because I have a good goalie in Josh Harding waiting for his chance and a defensive coach (understatement of the year). I also know there are teams looking to shore up their goaltending heading into the playoffs, and if I can get someone with slightly above-average scoring prowess, and if Gaborik comes back with some fire, suddenly I’ve got more offense to make this playoff push. And that will make Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette, and Owen Nolan better instead of relying on them for all my scoring. And instead of making the playoffs as the 8th seed and losing to Detroit in the 1st round, maybe there’s a bit of run in this team after all.

Unfortunately, I’m not real Wild GM, and none of this will happen.

Elise from18,568 Reasons Why (2/27)

Minnesota fans are used to not expecting much at the trade deadline – the biggest trades have included names like Dominic Moore, Adam Hall, and Chris Simon. But this year there are big decisions that have to be made about important players like Marian Gaborik and Niklas Backstrom and the team’s future as a whole.

There’s uncertainty about whether the team will even make the playoffs this season, leading to questions about whether the Wild should bother trying to get a rental player or should start rebuilding for next year. A lot of this will not even be determined by the trade deadline – the rest of Minnesota’s schedule is tough and 14 of 17 in March are on the road.

The best trade for the Wild would probably be to get rid of a member of the clogged defensive corps (most likely stay-at-home Kim Johnsson or powerplay expert Marc-Andre Bergeron) for some offense. Another option would be to trade Gaborik for anything they could. After the injuries and bad relations between the team and Gaby’s agent, there’s no chance the sniper will be staying with Minnesota long-term.

Backstrom also has the potential to be moved, but his chance of moving is much lower than the others. His contract goes through this season, but there have been talks between the team and Backy (whose agent gets along very well with the Wild.) Any trade the Wild makes, it will be for offense, there’s no doubt about that. This team has too much defense and will never win unless they can score more.

Chris Kontos: With Backstrom getting signed today, Gaborik remains the mystery. As a GM, can you really allow this guy to walk away for nothing. There is no way he is coming back to a Jacques Lemaire coached Wild team (can you believe Gaborik played all these years in that defensive system!) so they should get what they can for a damaged Gaborik. Maybe they could continue their short history of bonehead trades with the Kings (really, Patrick O’Sullivan and a 10th overall pick for Demitra) and give the Kings Gaborik for Kyle Calder.

James O’Brien: It seems like the Wild are going to have to tough it out with Marian Gaborik. I really wonder how Wild fans feel about the guy. He was their best player in their long ago run to the Western Conference Finals, then turned into an even less lucky version of Martin Havlat. Why not just dump him for next to nothing and move on? I know I’d want to get him out of site if I was in that spot.

***

Calgary Flames

March 2

Kent from Five Hole Fanatics

If I was Sutter at the deadline, I’d look for a way to flip ToddBertuzzi for whatever I could get. Bert’s stats look alright (3rd highest scorer on the Flames), but it has almost everything to do with lots of ice time with excellent players, rather than any inherent value he brings. In fact, Bert’s been something of lead weight in the Flames top 6 this year – partially because he makes terrible decisions in his own and neutral zones and partially because Keenan refuses to see Bertuzzi for what he is: a marginal player who’s good at the highlight reel stuff but lousy at everything else.

Bertuzzi has a thoroughly mediocre ESP/60 rate (1.94), that’s good for 7th on the team (behind such guys as David Moss and Curtis Glencross).He also has the second worst corsi rate of any regular skating forward(4.4) ahead of only Dustin Boyd (who is 22 and has spent most of the year on the 4th line). Oh, and Bertuzzi’s quality of teammates as ranked by behindthenet.ca? A 2nd best 0.17 (Conroy is first with 0.18). Bert doesn’t play against the toughest competition either (-0.01). In short, he’s getting mediocre results in very favorable circumstances.

So deal him at the deadline to a contender in the East who wants to upgrade their forward depth. Get some lesser roster player and a draft pick and you win the trade, hands down.

In addition, I would make a play for Jordan Leopold. The former Flame was slowed by injuries in Colorado, but was probably the best ever partner for shut-down man Robyn Regehr here in Calgary.

The Avs are out of the running and Leopold is under the radar thanks to his poor luck during his time there. He could probably be had for a prospect/pick and would instantly step into the divide left by the down-for-the-count Mark Giordano. Then, you can try to re-sign Leopold to take over for the departing Adrian Aucoin, who is UFA in July.

Chris Kontos: Wow! This is the most out there one yet. But trading Bertuzzi kinda makes sense. Too bad that Cammalleri is off to the races next season because he has seemed to be a nice fit in Calgary with Iginla.

James O’Brien: If there was an easy way to quantify hate (Kent would know it), I wonder who would win a Bertuzzi hate-off between Kent and I. We both seem to agree that getting rid of Bertuzzi is addition by subtraction. That’s good enough for me.

EDMONTON: (No guest post … maybe tomorrow)