Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene. Image by: Getty Images
GM Joe Sakic had a chance to make the day’s biggest splash by trading Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene. Both remain with the Avs, but there was no rush to move either. Colorado could benefit by waiting until June.
Did the Colorado Avalanche succeed or fail at the 2017 trade deadline? There’s no reason to answer that question right now. The truth is we won’t know until summer.
Sure, it appears GM Joe Sakic accomplished very little Wednesday. He landed a conditional fourth-round pick from the Los Angeles Kings for swan-song right winger Jarome Iginla; swapped size for skill, sending left winger Andreas Martinsen to the Montreal Canadiens for right winger Sven Andrighetto; and made a pair of minor-league deals, picking up left winger Brendan Ranford and goalie Joe Cannata. The earth did not move. Sakic did not deal stars Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, the subjects of so many rumors.
At least according to social media, which turned into an angry anti-Avs hive Wednesday after the deadline passed, Sakic laid an egg. But is that really true?
First off, look at the expiring assets he wasn’t able to move: center John Mitchell, left winger Rene Bourque, defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Cody Goloubef. We live in a world where Thomas Vanek yields a third-round pick and P-A Parenteau nets a sixth. No one was going to pay anything for the Avs’ replacement-level assets. Even Francois Beauchemin, subject of some trade speculation, has another year on his deal with a $4.5-million cap hit and is already 36. Even if Colorado ate half his salary, the team acquiring him would be saddled with a 37-year-old for $2.25 million next season. Not exactly tantalizing. It likely didn’t help that almost every Colorado player’s stats have taken a nosedive in the toxic waste dump that is the 2016-17 season, with a team on pace for the most regulation losses by an NHL club in 17 years.
The problem was still Sakic’s responsibility, as a roster full of dead weight was of his making, but, regardless, there were no deals to make Wednesday given what he had to offer.
And as for Landeskog and Duchene, what’s the rush? It’s understandable to see fans clamoring for a major roster shakeup given how grim the franchise’s future looks right now. If we could all kickstart the perfect rebuild instantly, we would. But the simple truth is Duchene is under contract two more seasons at a $6-millon cap hit and Landeskog four more at a $5.57 million per. Neither player was a rental. Waiting until the summer and, more specifically, draft day to pursue trades shouldn’t hurt Sakic. Yes, suitors just lost a potential playoff year from either player, but the list of interested teams should lengthen significantly by draft day. Duchene is 26, Landeskog, 24, so every team save for a rock-bottom year-1 rebuilder like Colorado could have a use for one or both players. Given both carry hefty cap hits, working out a trade Wednesday was likely complicated. Sakic’s asking price for his prized pieces has been reported as astronomical, something in the range of a first-round pick, a top prospect and a solid roster player for Duchene or Landeskog, so the suitors might have balked. We know the Ottawa Senators did so publicly.
Maybe Sakic brings his price down to something more realistic by summer. Maybe GMs are more likely to meet his price in an off-season deal, in which they aren’t plucking crucial pieces off their rosters right before the playoffs. Trades for both players remain possible if not probable for June.
Why, then, condemn Sakic’s trade deadline as a faceplant? We won’t know that until we see what he does or doesn’t do leading up to, and during, June’s draft in Chicago. After that, everybody gets a pitchfork if the result still looks disappointing.