Colorado Avalanche Likely to be Sellers at Deadline

The Colorado Avalanche are more likely to be sellers of unwanted contracts than buyers of desired players at the trade deadline March 1st.

Bold prediction for the Colorado Avalanche: The team is more likely to be sellers than buyers at the trade deadline.

It’s safe to say that veteran winger and future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla will be traded to a contending team. Iginla has a 35+ No Move Clause to his contract, which he’d have to waive for a trade. However, Iginla has been clear that he’d welcome a trade to a playoff team:

“I would like to, at the deadline, go somewhere. I would like to be in the playoffs.”

You can’t fault the man for that. He’s very likely in his last NHL season. By his own admission he knows he’s not in the Colorado Avalanche’s future plans, even if he were to play next season.

Iginla is in the final year of a contract that has a $5.3 million cap hit, so it might be tricky finding a suitor for him. The team would have to be a shoe-in for the playoffs for him to waive his NMC, but those teams tend to be kissing the cap ceiling. As such, the Avs might have to retain some salary. That’s not a big deal since the money will be off the books come summertime when GM Joe Sakic is likely to be wheeling and dealing.

I could see Iginla going to an Eastern Conference team, perhaps the Ottawa Senators. They have a little veteran leadership, but not a future Hall of Famer. The Montreal Canadiens are pretty young, but somehow I don’t see them taking Iginla on.

A part of me would like to see Iginla go to the Washington Capitals. They’re my playoff team, and it would be fun to be able to still root for Iggy. However, they’re pretty stacked in the wing department.

The Columbus Blue are ever a favorite for making deals with the Avalanche. They’re a very young team, and they really could afford Iginla. My money is on Iginla getting shipped to Columbus.

There’s no real reason to write off Western Conference teams. I’d hate to see Iginla go to the Minnesota Wild, though they could use his veteran leadership in the bottom six. I think for western teams Iginla would be more likely to land with the Edmonton Oilers or, especially, the San Jose Sharks.

According to NHL.com, the LA Kings might have some interest in Iginla. They’re currently in the bottom wild card spot, though, so Jarome would probably wait to ensure the team was likely to make the playoffs before waiving his NMC for them.

As far as return for Iginla, I think the Colorado Avalanche would be lucky to get a late-round draft pick. And like I said, they may have to retain salary.

Concerning contracts and players the team needs to unload, the big one is Carl Soderberg. The 31-year-old forward has three years left on a contract with a $4.75 million cap hit. He seemed to have potential when Colorado signed him, but he’s got just 11 points in 53 games this year. Coupled with his contract, that makes his trade value very low.

At best, the Avs would have to pay a team to take Soderberg — like give up a draft pick or a prospect. I wouldn’t like to see them do that. Colorado is going to have a lot of money freed up this summer, so they need prospects more than cap relief moving forward.

The other contract/player the team might be able to unload is Francois Beauchemin. It’s true he’s playing atrociously this season, but he’s got a pretty golden pedigree in prior seasons, especially playing in the playoffs with the Anaheim Ducks.

If CBJ doesn’t bite on Iginla, they might consider taking on Beauchemin. Ditto the Caps, though they’d prefer a right hand shot. Unfortunately for the latter, the Avs might have to retain some salary through next year.

The New York Rangers need an experienced defenseman. That would be a great move for the Avs.

Beauchemin also has a 35+ NMC, so he’d have to approve the team he was getting traded to. Again, that means playoff hopefuls. However, since he has at least one more year to play, he might consider going to a team like the Calgary Flames. They need some veteran help on defense. They’re currently chasing the Kings for the final wild card spot in the West.

As with Iginla, the most the Colorado Avalanche could hope to get for Beauchemin would be a draft pick. They might get an earlier round, but probably not as high as first.

Now, on to why I think the Avs will be sellers not buyers: The expansion draft.

If the Avalanche don’t trade Beauchemin, his NMC means the team has to protect him in the expansion draft. They must also protect Erik Johnson, which they would do anyway. Colorado would also want to protect both Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov.

Protecting four defensemen means the Avalanche have to choose the eight skaters option in expansion draft rules over the seven forwards/three defensemen option. If the Colorado Avalanche trade for another defenseman, then they’d just have to protect him, too. That would leave them with just three forwards protected.

Of course, Colorado doesn’t necessarily have more than three forwards worth protecting. Mikko Rantanen is exempt because he’s a second-year professional. Soderberg has a No Trade Clause, but only NMC players must be protected.

In reality, that leaves just Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.

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It’s possible that Sakic could be planning on trading one of those players for a stud defenseman. Then the team would only have two forwards worth protecting. Hopefully that would give Joe enough pause to reconsider, though. You can’t win a lot of hockey games if you only have two forwards of note.

Then again, if Joe Sakic is playing the long game and doesn’t see this team being competitive in the next few years, that might just be the way he goes. He could very well trade Duchene and try to build the team around MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen, Tyson Jost and whomever they draft this year (possibly Nolan Patrick).

Do we really want to wait until MacKinnon is Duchene’s age for the Colorado Avalanche to be relevant again? I don’t. So, let’s hope that the team really are sellers and not buyers at the deadline.

By Nadia Archuleta for Mile High Sticking

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