Nearly a month into this season, the Colorado Avalanche stumbled from the gate with a 2-4-4 record. Poor defensive play is a significant factor behind their sputtering start, as they rank among the worst teams in shots-against and goals-against per game.
This poor start is a far cry from last season, when they topped the Central Division with 112 points and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years. With their depth in young talent and 2013-14 Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy behind the bench, the Avs entered this season seemingly poised to build upon that success.
The Avs had poor defensive numbers last season, but the strong performance of goaltender and Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov offset those stats. When Valarmov missed several games in October to a groin injury opponents cashed in on Colorado's sloppy defense. He's been solid since his return to action on October 24, but his teammates continue to struggle in their own zone.
ESPN.com's Craig Custance believes the Avalanche must trade for a defenseman. Responding to a reader's question on the subject, Custance suggests acquiring a puck-handling blueliner who can help their transition game. He feels Washington's Mike Green would be a “fascinating addition” if the Capitals decide to move him.
Green is in the final season of his contract with a $6.083-million cap hit and becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Though he was frequently mentioned in off-season trade rumors, CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley reports Green is playing like he wants to stay in Washington. The 29-year-old blueliner is among their leaders in points and plus/minus, so it's a safe bet the Capitals aren't in any hurry right now to trade him.
Should the Avalanche shop for a defenseman they'll find the pickings slim. Buffalo's Tyler Myers and Edmonton's Jeff Petry have been bandied about the rumor mill this month. The Sabres apparently set a high asking price for Myers, seeking top prospects and draft picks. With the Oilers rattling off four straight wins they're unlikely to move Petry in the near future.
OILERS EBERLE ON THE MARKET?
Petry isn't the only member of the Oilers frequently popping up as a possible trade candidate this month. Young right wingers Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov have also been mentioned, with Eberle considered the most valuable trade chip. Over the weekend, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported he has heard the Oilers were listening to offers for Eberle.
Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch replied to a reader's question concerning the Blues rumored interest in the 24-year-old right winger. Rutherford considers the combination of Paul Stastny's shoulder injury and recent illnesses plaguing the Blues makes it tough for them to pursue that sort of deal.
With the Oilers rallying back from an 0-4-1 start with four straight victories over Tampa Bay, Washington, Carolina and Montreal, the trade chatter dogging Eberle, Yakupov and Petry is fading. While they're still lacking experienced depth at center, Oilers management could be unwilling to consider a roster shakeup right now.