Colorado Avalanche Add Depth but No Big Piece at Trade Deadline

For many weeks, the Colorado Avalanche have been linked with a big trade deadline move, and ultimately, a move of that size didn’t come to life. That doesn’t mean the team did poorly, however; the 2022 Trade Deadline was a successful one for the team, slowly improving in the areas they need to, if they want to win the Stanley Cup this season.

Four pieces were added, one defenseman and three forwards, all bringing either a different element to the team that was missing or improving on the players they are going to replace. In terms of being in “win-now” mode, the Avalanche lost just one roster piece, with Tyson Jost heading to the Minnesota Wild. That is going to lead to a big boost in depth, especially at forward, and ultimately, plenty of choice for head coach Jared Bednar.

Josh Manson, Nico Sturm, Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Cogliano are the four players coming in, adding to the chances that this team has to win the Cup this season. Purely based on this season only, the Avs are in a better position than they were a week ago, despite not making the big move that everyone expected them to.

Big Improvement to Avalanche’s Bottom Six

I really like what Colorado has done with their bottom six. Many thought they’d bring in a top-end forward, and their bottom six would improve by players falling down the roster, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Avalanche have brought in three players to join their bottom six, changing 50 percent of that group, and making it considerably better.

The biggest of these is Lehkonen, who will come in and slot alongside Alex Newhook and probably J.T. Compher on the third line. Lehkonen will provide the kind of defensive help to the third line that Valeri Nichushkin did so well last season, before his rise to the second line.

Artturi Lehkonen Montreal Canadiens
Artturi Lehkonen, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Analytically, Nichushkin is a superstar, and when you look at the stats, Lehkonen is the same. Should the team need him to step up, Lehkonen is the type of player who can play on the second line, but is ideal to add depth to the third line and give Newhook someone at a higher level to play with.

Nico Sturm is essentially a Jost replacement and will slot onto the fourth line to play that role. He is a better defensive player than Jost, can kill penalties well and is a bigger body, more suited to a limited role. He doesn’t have the upside that Jost may still have, but in terms of playing the role asked of him on the fourth line, you can certainly argue that Sturm is a better fit.

Cogliano Adds Options on Colorado Fourth Line

Rounding off the forwards, Cogliano will add a veteran presence to the fourth line and give the team the ability to have different looks. Darren Helm has disappointed a little this season since his move from Detroit, but the team has been hesitant to leave him out of the lineup because of his experience. Now they have Cogliano to provide that, so Helm will have to play better if he wants to keep his position.

If he does that, the Avalanche could play both Helm and Cogliano with Sturm, giving them a fourth line full of experience, with good penalty killers and plenty of character. Of course, now that the team has four strong fourth liners, including Logan O’Connor, should any injuries arise, the Avalanche can make a replacement without really feeling any pain.

Manson Adds Size and Depth

Given the news today that Bowen Byram was on the ice in a regular sweater, the chances of him playing again soon have dramatically improved. Put him in the lineup, and with the addition of Manson, the Avalanche will have Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray battling it out for the sixth defenseman spot on their roster. The remaining two will take the seventh and eighth spots on the depth chart, making Colorado deeper than anyone else in the league, as well as having a top four that few, if any, can match.

Josh Manson Anaheim Ducks
Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

What the Manson trade move also brings is size, something the fanbase have been wanting for some time. He will clear the front of the net, make the corners tough to play in, and give Colorado a small edge, one that some people would say they have lacked in the playoffs for the past few seasons.

What Pieces Have the Avalanche Lost?

First of all, let’s talk about what the Avalanche haven’t lost, which is a first-round pick. Although this team is all-in, they have made their moves without sacrificing a first-round pick, something that will be seen as a win for Joe Sakic.

In terms of roster players, Jost is the only departure; again, this has to be seen as a positive for the team, and another win for Sakic. However, something has to give when you are improving your roster, and for the Avalanche, that comes in the form of their prospect pool.

In particular, defensively, where the Avalanche lost Drew Helleson to Anaheim and Justin Barron to Montreal, two players that were expected to at least push for a place on the team next season, even if they couldn’t quite make the step up. In terms of defensive prospects, things have taken a hit — though, of course, a Cup win would soon help us all forget about that.

A Winning Deadline for Colorado?

Praise has to go to Sakic once again for his trade deadline moves. Yes, you can say the team hasn’t made a big splash, such as the rumored Claude Giroux move that was spoken about for a while. However, the team is better now than it was last week, they have only lost one roster player, and they have done it all without giving up a first-round pick.

No big name, but many small tweaks, which could lead to a big return. All in all, a successful trade deadline for the Colorado Avalanche.