Avs and Coyotes swap young defensemen in need of scenery change

First-rounder Brandon Gormley heads to Colorado, while Stefan Elliott is now a member of Arizona. Both youngsters have developed on a slow curve and new addresses may be the ticket to success

The Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes pulled off a trade Wednesday night, with Brandon Gormley heading to the Avs and Stefan Elliott going the other way to Arizona. Both players are young defensemen who had yet to make definitive marks in the NHL and a change of scenery is not a bad idea.

Gormley, a Coyotes first-rounder in 2010, boasts good size and mobility, but has yet to fully adjust to the high tempo of the NHL. Injuries have also been a factor in the past, but considering how threadbare the Arizona defense corps was last year (especially after the Keith Yandle trade), Gormley’s demotion to the AHL could not have been seen as a positive.

Elliott, who at 24 is one year older than Gormley, is a similarly sized blueliner who can also move the puck well. His 13 points in 39 games as a rookie in 2011-12 was by far his best NHL output to date, but he appeared in just five games for the Avalanche last season, with bottom-pairing minutes. The ascension of offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie certainly didn’t help Elliott’s stock and power play duty – one of Elliott’s strengths – was not within his grasp in Colorado.

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But perhaps a fresh chalkboard will help both players. Neither the Avs or the Coyotes are particularly deep on defense and a regular spot in the top six is possible for both. But Gormley and Elliott will have to impress early in their second stops – otherwise, they’ll be right back where they started.