March 21 is under a month away now, and will mark the part of the season where we see contenders become separated from the middle of the pack. For the Avalanche they are a team that can only get so much better, let’s take a look at who they should consider picking up. Note that the following players are not necessarily rumoured to come to Colorado, but are players the team should be looking at.
RW Phil Kessel, ARZ
With new reports coming out from The Athletic that the asking price for “Phil the Thrill” is just a third round pick at 50% retained, this is a bargain for any top-tier team. Kessel is currently in the best season of his Coyotes tenure, analytically anyway, with a 3.1 GAR which is higher than the two negative figures he had in the two seasons before. His number this year is carried by his even-strength offence, which stands at 6.4. He is still producing at a respectable level with 33 points in 53 games, but only six goals. However, everybody knows he has a great shot. He is currently shooting under 6%, which is bound to go up. He was a key contributor in back-to-back Stanley Cups for the Penguins, and while that was five years ago, he is a proven playoff performer. Kessel would be put into the top six for the Avalanche most likely, pushing Valeri Nichushkin to the third line so he can return to his excellent checking presence. The trade would take some cap wizardry to pull off.
COL gets: RW Phil Kessel (50% retained), RW Dmitrij Jaskin
ARZ gets: 2022 third round pick, 2023 seventh round pick
LW Claude Giroux, PHI
He would be an even better Kessel. Giroux is the whole package: a great playmaker, responsible defensively, and a great leader. At his age of 34, he is yet to win a Stanley Cup and is in no position to win one this season as long as he’s a Flyer. While he has not formally requested a trade, Giroux has reportedly stated if he were to be traded, the team he would like to be traded to is the Avalanche, along with the Blues and Wild to a lesser extent. The Philly captain is a pending UFA at the end of the season and still has a few good years left in him. He owns a 6.5 GAR this season, as well as a solid 38 points through 49 games. The Avalanche would only acquire one of him or Kessel, and I think it would be worth to go all in for the arguable future Hall of Famer. Giroux has a large cap hit that needs a third party salary retention involved, cap wizardry would be necessary again.
COL gets: LW Claude Giroux (50% + 25% retained), C Nate Thompson
PHI gets: LW Tyson Jost, RW Martin Kaut, 2023 first round pick
NJD gets: 2022 fifth round pick
RD Mark Pysyk, BUF
The Avalanche to many critics are very close to a perfect team, but there is a major problem with the penalty kill this season. Ranking 27th in the league in short-handed defence, the PK is really the only glaring hole with the team. Enter Mark Pysyk. While he is commonly a right-handed blueliner, he can play the left side, and can even hop on right wing if needed. Pysyk has been one of the top penalty-killing defencemen this season, and in general has been good all around. Left-side defence has been a tad thin this season for Colorado, with Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray being at times unreliable. Pysyk brings versatility and depth to a team so close to perfection.
COL gets: RD Mark Pysyk, 2022 sixth round pick
BUF gets: 2023 second round pick
It will be interesting to see how the Avalanche stack up at the deadline, and we all know Joe Sakic doesn’t usually disappoint.