Joe Sakic’s trade deadline proves he’s all-in for a Stanley Cup
Avalanche Fans: This is your team.
The NHL trade deadline has come on gone and reviews for Joe Sakic appear mixed. Did he do enough? Did he give up too much? Was he not bold enough?
The answers to those questions won’t come until this Avalanche team enters the boiling cauldron of pressure that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On the surface, Sakic did address needs. The three issues that have plagued this team in playoffs past is a lack of reliable goaltending, softness — especially on the back end, and, a lack of secondary scoring beyond the top line.
The Avs gave up a prospect in Conor Timmins, a first-round pick and a future third-rounder for goalie Darcy Kuemper. That’s a pretty good package. Kuemper has done nothing wrong this season to indicate is was a bad trade. It was a good move. So far. Now it’s time to prove he can carry a team to a Stanley Cup. We won’t know until we know.
The trade for Josh Manson was a really good move. He brings toughness. He is the opposite of soft. Any playoff opponent that thinks they can dump the puck into the Avs’ zone and go to work on the forecheck with the idea of punishing Avs’ defensemen knows that won’t be the case with Manson back there. I love the idea of the Avs looking to close a lead late in a game and having Manson out there as their defensive “closer.”
In order to feel good about a team’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup I believe you have to have three reliable lines in the playoffs with a fourth line that provides energy, defense and the occasional blue collar, break your opponent’s spirit, goal.
Here’s where there’s room for debate.
Did Sakic get enough in Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen? Would they have been better off doing whatever it took to convince Claude Giroux to travel West? What about Andrew Copp? Richard Rakell?
I like the Lehktonen move. He’s shown an ability to score with a terrible Montreal team. Put him on this Avs team with better surrounding talent and his production should be greater. He has a good amount of playoff experience with 33 postseason games in his three years in the league. Plus, he’s a restricted free agent after this season. As much as we talk about the “all-in” nature of this season, there has to be some eye on the future. Copp and Rakell for example are going to be unrestricted free agents. The Avs have a chance to make Lehktonen a longer term move.
That matters when you consider what the Avs have given up in these trades. Going back to the Kuemper deal it includes Timmins, a 2020 first-round pick in Justin Barron, a former 2019 second-round pick in Drew Helleson, plus a future first-round pick in 2022, future second-round picks in 2023 and 2024 and a future third-round pick in 2024.
I love Sakic’s approach. There was a time to hoard prospects and build the young talent pipeline and keep growing for the future. Well, the future is now. The Avs have what it takes to win the Cup. Sakic knows what a Cup contending team looks like and when you have that window of opportunity you go for it. He’s doing that. He addressed the holes head on. The moves he made were solid. Now it’s up to this team to go out and prove they have what it takes.
Should be a blast!