The Avalanche could be one of the more active teams in the trade market if GM Joe Sakic looks to shake things up to turn Colorado’s season around, while the Coyotes’ struggles could lead to GM John Chayka shipping out key UFAs.
Changes could be in store at some point this season for the foundering Colorado Avalanche. After a humiliating 10-1 loss on Saturday to the Montreal Canadiens, they held the dubious honor of being the NHL’s worst team.
The Avs were briefly dead last in the Western Conference until Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. With a record of 11-15-1 record through 27 games, they’re seven points out of playoff contention.
Earlier this month, The Denver Post’s Terry Frei reported Avalanche GM Joe Sakic wasn’t tempted to make immediate changes, in part because of the difficulty of doing so early in the season. Sakic maintained he still had faith in his core players, believing his club’s difficulties were more of a team issue.
Sakic could still be unwilling to shake things up at this point, but it’s apparent he’ll have to do something if the losing continues. Should the Avs fail to gain ground in the standings through January, Sakic could go into “sell mode” in February.
One who could be out the door is veteran winger Jarome Iginla. An unrestricted free agent in July, the 39-year-old Iginla has only seven points in 27 games and skates on the third line. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman cites a recent interview Iginla gave with Colorado sportswriter Adrian Dater saying he’ll consider waiving his no-trade clause to join a playoff contender.
Iginla probably won’t be the only Avs pending UFA to be shopped leading up to the March 1 trade deadline. Forwards John Mitchell and Rene Bourque and defenseman Fedor Tyutin could join him.
Sakic’s patience in his core players could be wearing thin. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports hearing the Avs GM is willing to talk trade about almost everyone on his roster except center Nathan MacKinnon.
Garrioch suggests Sakic move goaltender Semyon Varlamov for young assets, but that could prove easier said than done. The 28-year-old netminder’s stock has tumbled since he was named a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2014. He’s won only six of 19 games, with a 3.21 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. Factor in his $5.9-million annual cap hit, and Sakic could be hard pressed to find any takers.
Center Matt Duchene ($6-million annual average value) and left wing Gabriel Landeskog ($5.5 million) would likely fetch better returns, but their hefty cap hits also won’t be easy to move in-season. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson believes either guy could land a blueliner. Dealing one of them away, however, would hurt their already-limited offensive depth.
COYOTES TALKING TRADE AS STRUGGLES CONTINUE
Speaking of foundering teams in need of change, the Arizona Coyotes enter this week dead last in the Western Conference. With top-line left wing Max Domi (upper body, week-to-week) joining center Brad Richardson (broken leg) on injured reserve and right wing Anthony Duclair mired in a sophomore slump, the Coyotes’ playoff hopes are dimming.
In recent weeks, Duclair and center Martin Hanzal frequently surfaced in trade speculation. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Hanzal and fellow pending UFAs Radim Vrbata, Ryan White and Michael Stone are being floated in the trade market.
Garrioch believes it could be in the best interest of Coyotes rookie GM John Chayka to seek if he can find a deal before the holiday trade freeze begins on Dec. 19. It’s unlikely, however, Chayka will go that route. On Friday, he acquired center Peter Holland from the Toronto Maple Leafs. That move could be his only one before the trade freeze.
Should Chayka decide to move one or all of his UFAs, he’ll probably find better value for them in the new year.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.). For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.