Big Ol’ Carl is coming back to Colorado.
The Colorado Avalanche made one move during the NHL’s trade deadline day, bringing back veteran center Carl Soderberg from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for prospects Josh Dickinson and Ryder Rolston.
Soderberg, who spent four seasons with the Avalanche between 2015 to 2019, has seven goals and eight assists this season. The 35-year-old signed with Chicago in the offseason and helped them to a fast start with a solid stretch of play in February. The year before, he was traded from Colorado to the Arizona Coyotes, where he scored 35 points and was a member of the squad that faced the Avs in the quarterfinals of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Related: Trade Deadline Tracker
The Swedish center was solid in his previous tenure with the Avalanche, providing reliable two-way play while chipping in on offense at a semi-consistent rate (the 2016-17 season notwithstanding). He’s not as fast as most of Colorado’s players, but he’s a responsible addition to a bottom-six that’s already one of the best in the NHL.
Soderberg earned two assists in each of the playoff runs he went on with the Avs, the most notable of which coming on Mikko Rantanen’s OT winner in Game 4 of their series against the Calgary Flames:
The center also scored six points in 12 playoff games for the 2013-14 Boston Bruins, a solid group that fell to the Montreal Canadiens in the 2nd Round.
Colorado spent a good amount of time trying to use Soderberg as their second-line center, a role he wasn’t really suited for on a speed-first club. He thrived best with Blake Comeau and Matt Nieto near the bottom of the Avs’ lineup, indicating he may do well in that role again.
What Soderberg Brings to the Avalanche
Injuries are going to come before and during the playoffs. If Colorado’s current run of luck continues, they could be down players aplenty and often, making a Cup run that more difficult to achieve.
General manager Joe Sakic tried to account for the impending unknown by acquiring Soderberg, as well as former-Av Patrik Nemeth, and goalies Devan Dubnyk and Jonas Johansson. That’s added depth at forward, defense, and goaltender, hopefully enough to weather any storms that come the team’s way.
Soderberg already knows the systems the coach Jared Bednar likes to employ, making him a seamless fit in the lower part of the lineup. He’ll notch a couple of points, but more likely, he will keep things quiet on the defensive side of the ice. He’ll be able to help the club as it potentially gets more shallow as the season wears on.
At minimal trade cost, bringing back the veteran center has the potential to be a solid move for Colorado. Where they might get into trouble, however, is in his usage. They’ve already been hesitant to play younger guys like Shane Bowers or Martin Kaut, despite both playing well enough to earn a look. This is especially true for Kaut, who proved he was an NHLer last season and yet has been granted six minutes of play with the Avalanche this season.
Now, another player stands between his and Bowers’ path to promotion. But perhaps more importantly, Soderberg may take a spot from a current roster player. Tyson Jost has bloomed of late as the team’s third-line center, and P.E. Bellemare continues to truck along centering the fourth line. Is the newest Av supposed to come in right away and take Jost’s spot for the sake of security? Or is he there to sit and wait until someone goes down with an injury? That’s up to Bednar, and we’ll likely find out in the coming days.
The Avalanche had a quiet but solid trade deadline. They added depth across the lineup while not messing too much with the current group rolling through the season. Sakic clearly believes in his group, as he should. Now the chase for the Stanley Cup really begins. Soderberg will have the chance to help the Avs get there.
Avery is a writer covering the Colorado Avalanche. He is graduating in April with a B.A. in English and Mass Communication. He has previously worked for The Puck Authority covering the Rapid City Rush and for NGU Vision Media as their News Editor. He is a board game enthusiast and enjoys spending time with others.