The Leafs took on the Colorado Avalanche last night and won pretty easily, in a matchup that would’ve been much scarier in the earlier months of the season.
After a hot start to the year, the Avalanche have been mostly figured out by their opposition, having lost their last eight games. Since December 1, the Avalanche have won just 7 of 30 games, the league’s worst points % and lowest win total in that span, which is even worse than the supposed joke of the league Anaheim Ducks.
The Avalanche, despite what the folks on twitter or wherever else you get your hockey discourse from aren’t very good at all outside of a couple players, and are facing significant cap challenges in the future with a plethora of free agents coming up, most notably RFA Mikko Rantanen, who’s fifth in league scoring with 75 points.
What the Avalanche Have
One look at their NHLnumbers page… and you see they’ve got some work to do.
Trade 4 mackinnon!!!
In all seriousness, there isn’t much that’s too sexy here. Obviously there’s some good pieces, but their top line of Landeskog, MacKinnon, and Rantanen is probably untouchable.
Is Tyson Jost worth selling young? Probably not. Should the Leafs be interested in him, a player with all of 15 points this season, as a impact player to acquire for the stretch run? Also probably not. But in the offseason… well, still probably not, but perhaps he’s more on the block than their other young stars.
Colin Wilson is their only UFA forward. He makes a lot of money and would be the Leafs’ fourth best centre, although he’s currently in their lineup as a fourth line right winger.
You know, we’re starting to think the Avalanche aren’t in a great position moving forward.
Pardon the rhyme, but you have to be wary of a long-term deal for Tyson Barrie. Not because he’s bad, as he’s currently already at the 40 point marker on the season. Mostly, you just have to wonder the direction where this team is headed and if they’ll be competitive in the window of his deal, or if they can get a package of young players/ prospects/ picks that could help the team in the future. If you’re GM Joe Sakic and you think the team is competitive in two years, you keep him if you think you’ll be able to get him for a good price. But if you think this team’s peak is in four years? Why not cash in for the best offer you can get, and build the team around those pieces?
If Sam Girard can be the top pairing defenceman some think he can be, and with 2017 fourth overall pick Cale Makar still waiting in the wings, the Avalanche have an alright defence corps moving forward.
Do Patrick Nemeth or Mark Barberio move the needle for the Leafs? Probably not. Do we need to investigate that further? Probably not.
While they might end up with a Jack Hughes at the draft from either their or Ottawa’s pick.
If you’re looking at their prospects cupboard, you’ve got… well, not an outstanding abundance of riches anywhere. Because original research is a challenge, let’s just trust the Athletic’s Corey Pronman is correct when he ranked them as the 21st best farm system earlier this year.
We’re not even going to touch their goalies. They’re both bad and on horrible contracts, but for different reasons.
What the Leafs would offer
In all seriousness, the Leafs don’t really have a ton that’d make sense to move right now unless they’re making a blockbuster move. Keep Rasmus Sandin, Keep Timothy Liljegren. Throw whatever else you want on the table, but the are the Avalanche a great trade partner for the Leafs right now? Probably not. Are they set up for future success? Probably not. Are they going to miss the playoffs and end up with two lottery picks?
Probably, but we’ll see how they handle them first.
Dumping the Zaitsev contract needs to be a consideration whenever we look at a potential trade partner, and the Avalanche are a mixed bag there. They’ve already got a hodge podge of random defensemen , and perhaps if they think they can move some of that out they might be interested in Zaitsev. The Rangers have never been shy about adding Russians, as Zadorov is present and accounted for d others in their pipeline as well.
If we were to see an immediate Zaitsev deal I’d imagine it being Zaitsev for Carl Soderberg, with the Avalanche getting younger and adding a right shot, while the Leafs getting someone familiar with Babcock for the playoffs, that can be bought out for a fraction of the cost that a Zaitsev buyout would set the Leafs back.
If you’d like to read the first piece in this series, well, here it is. We might have lifted most of the Zaitsev segment from there.