Welcome to Avalanche at a Glance, a column from The Hockey Writers dedicated to anything and everything Colorado Avalanche. My parter Kevin Goff and I will choose two hot topics every edition and discuss them, followed by our favorite moments of the past week or so. We’ve been gone since the end of the season, but we are back and ready to talk hockey again. We hope you enjoy the read!
Defense, Defense, Defense
KEVIN GOFF: For this week’s Avalanche at a Glance, I’m going to look to next year. I want to look ahead to one thing in specific, free agency. The Colorado Avalanche have done a pretty good job the past couple of seasons acquiring pieces to make the team more well-rounded. Free agency and trades have been pretty good to the Avalanche of late, but there is still one spot that needs attention, the defense. This is no secret and hasn’t been for a while now, but the Avalanche are going to have a hard time moving up the standings without better defense.
As it currently stands, the Avalanche have the following defenseman on their NHL roster: Erik Johnson, Francois Beauchemin, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden, Chris Bigras, Zach Redmond, Andrew Bodnarchuk, and Nikita Zadorov. Eric Gelinas and Brad Stuart are both injured but are technically on the roster, as well. Three of these players are free agents at the end of the year: Barrie, Redmond and Bodnarcuk. Tyson Barrie isn’t going anywhere(or is he?), but both Bodnarchuk and Redmond could and probably should be allowed to walk. I fully expect Stuart to be bought out, unless the Avalanche really want him to play out the last year of his contract or they simply aren’t allowed to due to his injury status.
This would leave the defense looking something like this:
Johnson – Bigras
Beauchemin – Zadorov
Gelinas – Barrie
Patrick Roy likes to carry eight defensemen, which means the Avalanche need another player. Personally, I don’t think the Avalanche like Duncan Siemens so I’m not expecting it to be him. I’d love to be wrong, but they just don’t seem to trust him, so who should the Avalanche target in free agency to help solidify what isn’t a terrible defense setup. I propose Evgeny Medvedev, currently with the Philadelphia Flyers. 6’3” nearly 200 lbs. Two-way defenseman who is an excellent skater with a great shot.
SEBASTIAN HEDLEY-NOBLE: I believe you are correct on Siemens, Kevin. Younger defenseman in Bigras and Zadorov were called up ahead of him so that’s the writing on the wall right there for me. I like the Gelinas acquisition, and I hope Barrie stays at a reasonable price. That group along with Johnson and Beauchemin, makes for a solid foundation looking to the future. With that said, the Avalanche absolutely still need to dip into the free agent market to acquire that vital difference-maker on defense the team sorely lacks. Far too many times this year have the Avalanche hurt themselves in games with costly cheap turnovers on the back-end.
There could be some nice options available come July 1st, though that list grows shorter as teams try to negotiate with their pending UFA’s. As it stands right now, I would love for the Avs to take a long hard look at Luke Schenn if he could be had for the right price. There are mixed feelings all around on Schenn, though I believe he’d be an extremely solid addition to the defense in Colorado. Plus, he is right-handed which also fills a need. He’s the perfect age(26) to blend in with the core and has, in my opinion, an overall solid game that will get better.
I wouldn’t mind Medvedev either Kevin, though he is a bit older than I’d prefer at age 33. I think they should be looking for a player just a tad younger. Alex Goligoski(age 30) is definitely another name that sticks out for me, though he would cost a pretty penny for sure, and who knows if he even makes it to free agency.
Obviously we don’t know the cap situation as of right now, though regardless of who they are after, it should be a player in his prime or entering it. Just no more “veteran signings” please, they will only slow this fast team down.
Matt Duchene’s Mixed Reviews
SEBASTIAN HEDLEY-NOBLE: I want to discuss the attention Matt Duchene is getting in trade rumors around the NHL. It all started when Adrian Dater took to Twitter early on last season to basically throw shit at the wall. Duchene was having a terrible first month and so “why not start some trade rumors I guess” was the reasoning behind all that. Yes, very logical. I wasn’t worried then, though many were. Duchene silenced everything with his play on the ice from that point on as he caught fire.
This KID is the heart and soul of this Avalanche team. Duchene is a top center, top face-off man, can play in every forward position, racks up the points, only getting better, LOVES everything Colorado, is signed for to a very cap friendly contract long-term, etcetera, etcetera. He also just came home from Russia with his second straight gold medal for Team Canada at the IIHF championship, playing a major role in the tournament.
He’s a keeper no doubt about it. Yet, there are still absurd rumors about and paranoid Avalanche fans thinking that Dutchy could be leaving his dream team, it’s frustrating to watch. There are even some fans who want to move Duchene, which absolutely baffles me. Yes Colorado needs help on defense, but you don’t trade your superstar who would do anything for the team to acquire that need. Kevin please tell me you are not one of these people who wouldn’t mind seeing(or even want to see) Duchene traded?!?
KEVIN GOFF: Have no fear Sebastian, I am not one of those people who think that Matt Duchene needs to get moved. Duchene has done nothing but contribute for the Avalanche since getting here. Not only did Duchene hit the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career, and the first time for the Avalanche since 2006-2007, he’s been in the top 3 on the team in scoring every year except for one, during a season where he missed 20 games and played a majority of the end of the year on one good leg.
If the Avalanche need to look at trading anybody, it’s Jarome Iginla. I know Iginla has a no-move clause, but the Avalanche need to make an effort to get him to waive that. While Iginla definitely contributed on the power play, he only had nine even strength goals all season long. He’s lost a step in a big way and has one year left on a cap hit that is over $5 million. If the Avalanche can get Iginla moved, it would be a boon for the team that could spend his cap money in better ways. No way you move Duchene, I honestly don’t even care what the return would be, it does not make the team better.
Thanks for the read as always ladies and gents, next edition of Avalanche at a Glance will cover the upcoming draft and a another soon to be decided topic. If you’d like to request a topic for a future edition, or just want to reply on the current article, please don’t hesitate to comment below!
Sebastian Noble is currently in his third year with The Hockey Writers covering the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Liverpool, England, and of course Colorado Avalanche & Florida Panthers supporter. You can follow him on Twitter @SebastianHNoble