With less than 30 games remaining in the NHL season it appears the Colorado Avalanche will be ending their season earlier then they wanted to. Currently last in the Central division the Avalanche are 7 points behind the last wild card spot in the west. Trade speculation has surrounded the team all season specifically around young center Ryan O’Reilly however to get that deal done would be complicated on both ends. As teams push towards the playoffs GMs will be looking for rental players that they think may get their team over the hill and veteran defenseman Jan Hejda may attract some attention.
The 36 year old veteran defenseman plays night in and night out for the Avalanche as a shut down stay at home player. Hejda has 604 games of NHL regular season experience under his belt with 131 points in 8 seasons. A big body at 6 foot 4 inches and 237 pounds Hejda would be a nice addition to any playoff teams blue line for a playoff run. Hejda only has 10 games of playoff experience between his time in Colorado and his time with the Columbus Blue Jackets but would fit in nicely with a team that has made the playoffs several seasons in a row. Hejda is an UFA at the completion of this season and no talk of a contract extension has surfaced.
The Avalanche defensive core has been the focus of most scrutiny over the past several seasons. However Erik Johnson has finally started playing as a number one pick is expected to and the emergence of young Tyson Barrie has the look of him being in Denver for years to come. The Avalanche also have a couple of mostly unknown defenders in Nate Guenin and Nick Holden. While being consistently in the Avalanche line up it is believed the return for these two players in a trade would be substantially low. This leaves Hejda as the one player who is a well known, playing well defender, that the Avalanche organization may be willing to part ways with.
After the Avalanche were eliminated from he playoffs last season it was announced that Hejda had played all of the playoffs and some of the regular season with a significant injury to his hand. Hejda remained in the lineup and gave it his all but his game was noticeably off specifically in puck possession and defending with his stick, which given the injury, is to be expected. Hejda is a veteran player that simply does his job every night. He does not need to be micro managed or told what to do shift after shift and he is sure to draw attention as the deadline draws near. What the Avalanche are willing to receive for him and what other teams think he is worth is anybody’s guess but one would imagine a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick could peak the interest of the Avalanche. The Avalanche will be active like all teams are on the March 2 deadline and Hejda maybe one of several players that will be in play.