Tomorrow the Avalanche’s Prospect Camp begins. The camp will be from July 10-12, and will not be open to the public. It is typical for the Avs to keep this particular camp internal. However, last year, a couple of videos were posted on the official Avlanahce website. I’ll keep my eyes open, and post links, should the occasion arise.
Now, on to address trade rumors. Due to the fact the Avalanche have a shortage of players who are natural left wingers, people have been calling for a trade with increasing volume. Many of these trades involve acquiring either Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, and relinquishing Paul Stastny or Matt Duchene.
In one particular article, articulated by Mark Kizla of the Denver Post, he not only calls for the trade of Matt Duchene, but also says
“This hockey town isn’t big enough for Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly. Three outstanding centers are one more than Colorado needs.”
This statement provoked two instantaneous reactions from yours truly. The first was laughter. The second was to rub the spot in between my eyes that flares up when someone says something that I believe to be completely ludicrous.
I’m quite sure that in 2009, a team with three outstanding centers won the Stanley Cup. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal spent six years together before Staal felt the need to “spread his wings”. It can be argued that the current Stanley Cup Champions boast similar wealth, with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, and Jared Stoll. Teams dream of having three “top 2 quality” centers. Teams who are lucky enough to draft all three players should do as much as they can to retain the rights to all three players. Eventually, one player may wish his way out of the situation, desiring more responsibilty. Until that happens, a team should resist the trade deals, the offerings, and negotiate with other players at their disposal. In the case of the Avalanche, that means looking at the defensive pipeline. The number of competent defensemen under contract in Colorado are squished, filling an elevator past it’s maximum capacity. One or more players need to be released, otherwise the box goes sinking down the shaft, taking the entire team with it.
Personally, I believe that the Avalanche could afford to let Tyson Barrie go. He has a lot of talent, but between he and Stefan Elliott, I prefer Elliott. Barrie, a forward (Kobasew, perhaps?), and maybe a second round pick could make for a tempting package, for a proven commodity like Bobby Ryan. However, the trade does not need to be made instantly. It is feasible, in fact, that the Avalanche could go through training camp, using Mark Olver as a left winger for Duchene (assuming McGinn remains with Stastny, Landeskog with O’Reilly, and McLeod plays with Mitchell). Then, after the start of the season, the team could make rational, well-thought out decisions when it comes to making a trade here or there.
It all boils down to a few things:
1) If a trade is made, the “high quality” player on the Avalanche side must come from the blueline.
2) The Avalanche can sign someone, but they should not sign someone who is a talented right winger and assume they can put him on the left with little impact. It is ridiculous to believe that something such as the side a player plays on (related to the hand he shoots from) can be cast aside as a triviality.
3) A logjam is 4+ “top two centers”. Three is pretty wonderful to deal with.