The Colorado Avalanche have acquired forward Artturi Lehkonen from the Montreal Canadiens for defensive prospect Justin Barron and a second-round draft pick in 2024. In this deal, Montreal will retain 50 percent of Lehkonen’s salary, giving him a cap hit of $1.15 million.
For the Avalanche, Lehkonen is a luxury add to an already deep roster. While taking on roughly 15 minutes of ice time each night for the Canadiens throughout the 2021-22 season, he posted 13 goals and 29 points in 58 games played. Given the offensive struggles in Montreal for stretches this season, those scoring numbers are solid.
In Colorado, Lehkonen could continue to build upon this career season. Given the offensive talent level of the Avalanche, who are one of the favorites to win the 2022 Stanley Cup, he could see an uptick in his overall scoring.
However, if you’re the Avalanche, you aren’t adding Lehkonen to your roster for his scoring potential. What you’re looking for is that perfect depth winger who can bring fight and energy to your lineup every time he steps on the ice. That’s the sort of forward they are getting, and his play can be that final piece to get them over their postseason hump.
It’s also worth noting that Lehkonen is a restricted free agent in the 2022 offseason, meaning that Colorado can negotiate a new contract with him if they want to keep him around past the playoffs.
Canadiens Add Pick and Solid Prospect in Deal
For the Canadiens, their return on this deal may not be massive, but it’s still full of value. The second-round pick in 2024 is what it is, a high-value selection that will likely be later in the round, but given that is a few years off, anything can happen.
Barron, on the other hand, is the prize of this deal for Montreal. After being selected in the first round of the 2020 entry-level draft and signing his entry-level contract with Colorado in 2021, the young defenseman played 50 games in the AHL, along with two NHL games. On another franchise, he might be getting a serious look NHL for ice-time in 2022-23, but given their logjam on defense, it was unlikely that he would have broken onto the Avalanche’s lineup barring major injuries.
In Montreal, however, he could be the next man up for a young, retooling franchise. If he develops well, this could be the break needed for him to take that next step in his career and earn starting NHL ice time on a consistent basis.
Avalanche Stay Aggressive at 2022 Trade Deadline
After coming up short despite being strong contenders in both the 2020 and 2021 playoffs, it appears that Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic isn’t leaving anything to chance in 2022. He is spending future assets to get back the players he believes will push them over the hump to not only get them by the second-round but win the Stanley Cup. It’s an approach that can be commended, especially as the rest of the league burns through future assets to beef up their lineup.
For Montreal, they added another great defensive prospect and a draft pick down the road that can be used to make another trade if needed. Given how much of a rollercoaster this season has been, this is another solid win for the franchise as they look to work their way back to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2022-23.
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Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.