The Colorado Avalanche have come out a much better team since the 2015 NHL draft ended. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy proved many doubters wrong and conducted some nice pieces of business leading up to their 10th overall pick.
It was all pretty clear that Ryan O’Reilly was on his way out once the announcement was made that Carl Soderberg’s rights had been acquired from the Boston Bruins. The talented Swedish forward can play either left wing or center, and will most likely also see time on both PP and PK. The last two seasons in Boston, Soderberg put up 92 points in 155 games.
Colorado replaced O’Reilly before they even traded him, and took one of the best centerman off the market before he could become a free agent. Some very sound business by Sakic and company.
Why the Trade Was A Win
If reports are true that O’Reilly wants $8 million per year then the Avalanche absolutely made the correct decision. Colorado gave Buffalo Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher, and the 31st overall pick (traded to San Jose for the 39th in 2015, the Avs second-round choice in 2016 which was traded for Stuart last year, and a sixth-round selection in 2017). They also save cap space to sign their more important players down the line; a huge reason why Colorado let O’Reilly go. He was simply not the most important player on the team, and money is needed to extend Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, and others.
Not only did they add a much needed cornerstone piece to their defense in Zadorov, they also got a familiar forward for Patrick Roy in Grigorenko. Roy coached Grigorenko when he was with the junior Quebec Remparts, and Grigorenko was outstanding. Compher, who is a solid prospect, will be the captain of the Michigan Wolverines next season.
Selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Mikko Rantanen or “Hot Wheels” is a great addition to the team. He has the potential to make the roster next year as he has been playing against men in the Finnish Elite League for TPS. Rantanen has the size and skill to make the jump right away and could be lining up next to Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, or newly acquired Carl Soderberg.
If Rantanen does make the Avalanche team out of camp, it will be because he is ready, not because he is being rushed. There is no reason to hurry his development as Colorado has a very nice group of forwards. However, if Rantanen is ready, the Avalanche will have one of the deepest offenses in the league.
Potential New-Look Lineup
Colorado has no doubt become more well-rounded and deeper as a team with the acquisition of Soderberg, trading O’Reilly, and selecting Rantanen with their first pick.
With free agency just around the corner, the Avalanche could/should go hard after one or two of the FA defenders available. Players like Andrej Sekera and Jonny Oduya would go well with the new kid Zadorov. Grab one of those guys (preferably Sekera) and the Avs are a much improved team, and will make the playoffs.
Here’s how the lineup could look in October:
- Tanguay – Duchene – Iginla
- Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
- Grigorenko – Soderberg – Hishon/Everberg/FA
- Mcleod – Mitchell – Winchester/Bordeleau
- FA – Johnson
- Zadorov – Barrie
- Stuart – Redmond/Holden
- Semyon Varlamov
- Reto Berra/Calvin Pickard
We’ll see who the Avs can grab during free agency, one or two defenseman will be their key targets and maybe one more solid forward for the bottom six. Time to get excited!
UPDATE – We can now fill in the two FA spots with defenseman Francois Beauchemin and forward Blake Comeau being signed. Very solid additions, the Colorado Avalanche are now absolutely a much better team.