By Daniel Jackson – Published Monday May 12th 2014 at 7:15 PM
One of the biggest questions this season for the Avalanche going forward has been what happens if Paul Stastny walks as a UFA and there is a hole at Center on the 2nd line. An easy fix would be to shift either Ryan O’Reilly or Nathan MacKinnon back to their natural positions of center. I don’t want to do that just yet as what the team has going has been working well, so I am going to speculate in this blog who could fill the slot if neither player is shifted back. I will say that I do think Stastny stays for 3 reasons being that his significant other has a business in Denver, he has stated he will take a hometown discount and because the organization has taken steps in the right direction. With that said, here are my trade options that the team may consider as well as a few UFA-to-be players on July 1st. I did reach out to some of the hockey minds that I follow on Twitter and Facebook and came up with a few answers.
There have been lots of names run on the trade block this season, could some of them fit the mold of the Avalanche and not cost you a big asset? The names I’m including are players who have been mentioned to being available OR who I think could be acquired at a reasonable price tag.
Tyler Ennis – Buffalo Sabers
Buffalo has made a lot of trades this season and are trending towards a rebuild with younger players, could Ennis be part of the guys leaving? Ennis picked up 43 points on a bad Sabers team that was bottom 5 in the league, he was a -25 but playing on a line with Landeskog and MacKinnon could easily fix that.
Martin Hanzal- Phoenix Coyotes
Hanzal has had a rough ride to the NHL as he has never played the full 82 games due to injuries or benching, but he seems to be coming along slowly. His point totals have been improving every year, picking up 40 this season in 65 games. Could he continue to progress? Would Phoenix give him up?
Ryan Kesler-Vancouver Canucks
If you had Vancouver missing the playoffs this year, you should probably become a psychic as it was a shock to me. Rumblings came out of the Canucks that Kesler was unhappy and seeking a trade, and then they were denied, what is the truth? Kesler is a former 40 goal scorer and I think he could be a regular 60 point player on a good team. He has been injury prone lately so that is a concern, what would it take to pry him from the Canucks and would he waive his NTC to go to Denver?
Joe Pavelski- San Jose Sharks:
Little Joe would probably be my best recommendation for this spot, he comes up big, puts up points in bunches and can play steady minutes, but could he be available? San Jose just had an epic collapse in the playoffs and have never had much success in the playoffs despite being a serious threat in the regular season, would San Jose part with him in attempt to change the makeup of the team? This option would probably be the most costly asset wise, but I love the idea.
Sam Gagner -Edmonton Oilers
The main knocks on Sam are that he is inconsistent and smaller and doesn’t play a big game, but he is fast. Could he be traded for? I wouldn’t doubt it. Would he fit in? The Avs are a fast young team, so I think he would. I don’t think he would need to be overly physical if he is playing with Landeskog and MacKinnon. The best part of the deal would be that there is a good chance he would be cheap and Edmonton would probably have to retain some salary, making it easier for the Avs to manage his cap hit and save money.
I also had names like Kyle Turris(By Kevin Weeks Via Twitter) and Ryan Johansen thrown my way, but realistically they would cost you bigger assets and the 2nd line Center position is not the biggest hole to fill.
The UFA options to replace Paul Stastny aren’t many, only 3 guys who could slot into that 2nd line Center position and I’m not too fond of any of them really but they cost you no trade assets. Here they are:
Derek Roy: Roy is a play making center who had some great years as a Buffalo Sabre, but has been bounced around to Vancouver, Dallas and now St.Louis and seems to be on the downward end of his career. He picked up 37 points in 75 games, but he is more suited for a #3 Center.
Olli Jokinen: Olli is also another guy who is slowing down statistically and foot speed as well, similar to Roy you can get around 40 points out of him and Olli has also been a player bumped around after a long stay in Florida. Jokinen also has questions about consistency and the Avs need a steady guy.
David Legwand: Out of the 3 possible free agents, Legwand would be the best in my mind. Legwand has had injury issues a bit, but seems to be close to a 50 point pace most years and would be a good two-way option as he is defensively reliable. He has been with Nashville his entire Career until a pit stop in Detroit at trade deadline, so maybe he would be interested in finding a new home. I would not conciser a long term deal, but maybe a 2 year deal could work depending on price.
Overall, I think there are a lot of options. My dream acquisition would be Joe Pavelski, the easiest to acquire that would fit would be Sam Gagner and the only UFA I would conciser is David Legwand. I still say that Stastny will be back, but at least there are options available if Pauly decides his time is up in Denver.
Let me know what you think would be the best option and what you think would be a reasonable price to pay. Thanks for reading, you can find me on Twitter @Dannyj791