Avs-Preds tilt gains spice with trade (Jan 14, 2017)

BY AP • January 14, 2017

Saturday's matinee was going to simply be a matchup between Central Division rivals at Pepsi Center.

It has turned intriguing after the Nashville Predators acquired forward Cody McLeod from the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

The move comes a day before the teams meet in Denver and adds a little spice to the affair. McLeod, a longtime fan favorite in Colorado, had seen his playing time slip under first-year coach Jared Bednar. Now, he will be on the opposite bench facing the Avalanche for the first time in his 10-year career.

McLeod won't add scoring to the Predators but he will add toughness. The enforcer leaves the club with 1,359 career penalty minutes, tops in Avalanche history and third all-time in franchise history. His farewell in a Colorado uniform was a fight with Joseph Cramarossa in a 4-1 loss to Anaheim on Thursday.

McLeod led the NHL in fighting majors last year with 12 and has eight this year. He had one goal in 28 games this season.

The move bolsters Nashville, which has been hit hard by injuries. Defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colin Wilson were placed on injured reserve Friday, joining defenseman P.K. Subban and forward James Neal.

Josi left Thursday's win over Boston late in the first period after being hit by the Bruins' Anton Blidh, a hit Predators coach told The Tennessean was "late and dirty." The team doesn't have a timetable for Josi's absence but general manager Dave Poile was more hopeful about Wilson's prognosis.

"Colin shouldn't be long-term, and I don't think we know enough about Roman to make any forecast," Poile told The Tennessean on Friday.

The Avalanche (13-26-1) are last in the NHL in points and speculation that they would start making deals has been growing since they started their slide that has seen them lose 11 of 13.

In return for McLeod Colorado received minor league center Felix Girard, who was immediately assigned to the AHL.

Avalanche general manager said he had spoken with McLeod about the possibility of trading him to the Predators (19-16-7) and the longest-tenured player on the roster was receptive. Sakic told HockeyBuzz.com that he dealt McLeod as a thank you and a favor to the veteran.

"It's a favor for everything he's done," Sakic said. "I asked him what he wanted. You think about it, it's Nashville, it's a good opportunity and if that's something that he wanted to do, obviously we know where we're at; we're not going anywhere this year."

McLeod, who signed with the Avalanche as an undrafted free agent in 2006, has one more year on his contract with a salary cap hit of $1.33 million; Colorado will retain 40 percent of his salary as part of the trade.

Poile told The Tennessean McLeod will add a veteran presence to the team.

"We really believe that Cody will provide that element for us in terms of leadership -- a more veteran player, been there, done that before," Poile said. "Very physical player that can and will support our skill guys."

McLeod met his new team in Denver on Friday as the Predators started their five-game road trip to try to climb in the standings. They are two points behind third-place St. Louis in the Central Division and a point behind Los Angeles for the second wild card slot in the Western Conference.



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