Colorado Avalanche. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The struggling Colorado Avalanche may be on the hunt for defensive help as they try to recover from a horrible start to this season. However, any help on the blueline may come at the cost of breaking up their young core.
The Colorado Avalanche are currently struggling to recapture last season's 52-win, 112-point performance. Entering this week, the Avs have won only four games while their 13 points in 16 games left them near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
It was a matter of time until their early difficulties sparked some trade speculation. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports it's believed Avalanche GM Joe Sakic and coach Patrick Roy could shake things up if the club fails to get its act together soon.
Garrioch speculates they might get desperate enough to move some of their young assets for immediate help. He notes the Avalanche and New York Rangers need defensive help and were following each other around lately. One shouldn't read too much into that, as they're likely scouting each other ahead of their November 13 game in New York.
It's clear, however, the Avalanche need defensive help. They're among the NHL's worst teams in shots-against and goals-against per game. They struggled defensively last season as well, but goaltender Semyon Varlamov's strong performance compensated for those weaknesses. Varlamov is doing his best again this season, but opponents are doing a better job taking advantage of the Avs' poor defensive game.
Garrioch didn't specify which young assets the Avalanche might move. The obvious assumption is someone from their core group of forwards, which includes Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly.
O'Reilly's contentious contract negotiations history with the Avalanche could prompt some trade speculation. Like his teammates, the 23-year-old winger is having a tough start, with 9 points in 16 games and a plus/minus of minus-11. However, he's also the Avs best two-way forward and trading him won't address their needs.
While the Avalanche's performance last season dazzled many observers, their young core will go through some growing pains as they develop. The same can be said for Sakic and Roy, who are still relatively new to management at the NHL level. They could seemingly do no wrong last season, but they're now experiencing their first real test of adversity.
For now, they'll likely remain patient and try to resolve their defensive issues internally. If they do go shopping for help, don't expect them to part with anyone from their young core.
TEAMS ON HUNT FOR BLUELINE HELP
The Avalanche apparently aren't the only club in need of blueline help. Garrioch claims the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks have all made calls for defensemen.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman claims the Montreal Canadiens were also seeing what's available. He also notes the New York Rangers extended a tryout invitation to veteran blueliner Tomas Kaberle, who last played in the NHL in 2013. The Providence Journal's Mark Divver cites an NHL source claiming the Boston Bruins sought help for their injury-depleted defense.
Friedman spoke with an NHL GM who said he'd been in touch with an NHL team that had eight defensemen on one-way contract, but they apparently wish to retain them all. Given how defensemen are currently at a premium, it's not surprising those clubs well stocked with defensive depth are reluctant to make any moves right now. The longer they maintain that depth, the greater the trade value.
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.).
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