The Colorado Avalanche are Not Good. No, that’s too nice. They’re Bad. Very, Very Bad. They’re pacing for somewhere between 50 and 60 points.
ARI still on pace to come in 29th, but project at ~69 points.— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) February 14, 2017
COL on pace for ~49 points.
Point projections over the past fortnight. pic.twitter.com/EBGND0c1Ck— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 14, 2017
Given their complete inability to pull themselves out of the cellar, General Manager Joe Sakic has decided to sell off almost everybody, including Matt Duchene , Gabriel Landeskog, and pretty much all of their unrestricted free agents. While Duchene’s name has been linked to more teams in the Eastern Conference, it’s worth examining if the Los Angeles Kings could look at acquiring his talents (or any of the other UFAs) instead of Landeskog. (We wrote about possibly trading for the Swede here.) ESPN was one of a few outlets to mention Los Angeles as a possible landing spot for Duchene, and LA sent Dean Lombardi to watch Buffalo-Colorado yesterday. If he’s not looking at Buffalo (and he very well might be), who could he want from the Avs?
What We Know
Sakic has been mum on the rumors surrounding his team, even going so far as to coyly say that they will “listen,” though he would neither confirm nor deny that they’d be willing to make a trade in season.
“We’re in this position, so we’re certainly not going to be buyers at the deadline. We’re going to listen to offers for our (upcoming unrestricted free agents). That’s where we’re at. We want to start our rebuilding process and get younger. I’m not looking to do something big. If something happens, I will listen to get exactly what we want to help the team in the future, and we’ll certainly listen and think about it. But if not, I’m continuing to go into the summer and see how we can improve in the summer. There’s no real deadline that way. But we’ll look at all options to get better.”
So who is available then? Officially — technically — only Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and 2016 first round pick Tyson Jost are actually off the table. Everyone else appears to be fair game if, as indicated, the Avs GM feels that it will help their team in the future.
Duchene is an immensely talented 26-year-old left wing sniper with speed to burn and actual scoring abilities. When healthy, he’s been a consistent 20-something goal scorer over the course of his career. The current annual average value (AAV) on his contract is $6 million, which won’t be up until 2019. The asking price seems to be fairly similar to that as Landeskog: a first round pick; a young, established defenseman; and a high-end prospect or two (or a highly prized defensive prospect).
Cost aside, why the Canadian over the Swede? Both are young, fast skaters and can score. Statistically speaking, their numbers are fairly similar across the board — from CF% to 5v5 shooting percentage, there’s not much separating these two players. Until you look at points and the amount of goals they’ve scored. Since the 2011-12 season when Landeskog was a rookie, he’s played in 400 games and has tallied 175 points at 5v5. During that same time frame, Duchene played in 383 games (he was injured almost half the season in 2011-12) and scored 195 points. Throughout the entirety of his career, Duchene is about a 0.75 point per game player whereas Landeskog is about 0.67 points per game. Duchene’s points per game pace is also slightly above that of Anze Kopitar, which would certainly be the offensive improvement that the Kings are seeking.
Making It Work
[...] he said, “I will do anything I can to win and if I have to sort it out after the season, I will do that.”
Even if Jonathan Quick (who appears to finally be well on his way to recovery) does come back this season, the Kings have a shade under $4 million in available cap space. If Matt Greene is placed on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR), that would give LA a little less than $6.5 million, per Cap Friendly.
Supposing that Dean Lombardi decides to go for the best player on the Avalanche, he could — theoretically — try to deal with a flat cap situation over the summer. Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are just two among the many who will need new contracts. Either way, Kings are going to have to figure out how to shed salary. Might as well just add this to the pile, right? And since Duchene still has term, if he doesn’t work out, there will always be someone in the market for his services — not to mention the fact that teams always seem willing to make big deals at the draft. We’ll talk more about the cap in a minute.
The Avs are asking for an established young defenseman in his early 20s. If the Kings don’t want to lose Paul LaDue, offering up one of Brayden McNabb or Forbort might be an option. They’re both good blueliners who are on very nice, very cap friendly contracts. The AAV on McNabb’s deal is only $1.7 million while Forbort’s is $650k. McNabb will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. He’s 26 years old and will likely be looking for a significant raise from his current sweetheart deal. Forbort is 24 years old and will be a restricted free agent next year. While the former first rounder does have pedigree on his side, Kings will probably be able to control that cost a little longer than, say, McNabb.
On the other hand... what if the Kings could talk the Avalanche into taking Martinez? (The pros and cons of trading Alec are here). LA badly needs to shed salary and with the additions of LaDue and Gravel, they’ll be able to cope defensively. By doing this, the team only has to worry about an additional $2 million to the cap, which would be easier find a way to squeeze in than, say, $3.3 million. Regardless of which defenseman is dealt, though, the Kings would need to offer up multiple draft picks and prospects as well.
Imagine for a moment a winger in his actual prime who can actually score and doesn’t have hands of stone playing with Kopitar. Now imagine a line of Duchene, Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. The Kings’ captain will not only have linemates who are fleet footed, but can score and have a “nose for the net” if you will. With a team that always feels like it’s “just one more” away, this could really set them up for great success for a while.
Of course, that’s how it’s felt in the past with the acquisitions of Jeff Carter and Gaborik. And while GMs will always need to tinker with team rosters to stay in the playoff year after year, this could be a very solid top-six for the next few years as Kopitar exits his prime and Toffoli and Pearson enter theirs. The only question that remains is if it’s possible to pay the reported asking price.
This is a good time to mention that Jon Rosen politely informed us yesterday that Colorado is currently unwilling to consider Martinez and Muzzin as centerpieces going the other way. The hope would be that the Avs don’t get a suitable offer elsewhere and lower their asking price, but they can afford to be patient. In which case, there are always...
Let’s revisit that earlier Sakic quote.
We’re going to listen to offers for our (upcoming unrestricted free agents). That’s where we’re at.
These would be pure rentals and none would likely stick around after the season. The forward group includes Jarome Iginla, John Mitchell, Rene Bourque, and Andreas Martinsen. On defense, there is Cody Goloubef and Fedor Tyutin, both who come with bargain basement cap hits.
Pierre LeBrun wrote that the Kings have “kicked around the [...] idea” of trading for Iginla. In keeping with tradition, management likes the idea of getting the band back together and bringing in someone that Darryl Sutter used to coach. Iginla and the Calgary Flames went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final with Sutter back in 2004 and were just edged out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7. Could there be a reunion? Possibly. If (and that’s a big “if”) Dean Lombardi & Company did want to bring in Iginla, there’s still an issue of salary, meaning they’d either have to give up something of some significance or ask Sakic to hold back some of it. Given that Iginla’s contract is coming off the books this summer, it is possible a deal could be worked out. That is, if (and again big “if”) Los Angeles is even interested in the 39-year-old and his 15 points this season.
Mitchell is a relatively interesting depth forward, but he’s 32 years old and LA has enough low cost players who are younger and cheaper that he’d be another redundant cog in the machine. With a career high 12 goals back in 2008-09 and only two goals in 47 games played this year, he would definitely not help the Kings’ scoring issues.
As for Bourque and Martinsen — again, relatively inexpensive depth players. Bourque is 35 years old and has nine goals this year; Martinsen is 26 years old but only has seven goals in 104 career games. At that rate, Kings might as well recall Devin Setoguchi and see if they can get him going.
Goloubef is 27 years old but has had a fairly unimpressive career to date and Tyutin is 33 years old. Considering the development of such young skaters as Derek Forbort, Kevin Gravel, and Paul LaDue, Los Angeles is probably best sticking with what’s already in their system at a controlled cost.
If the Kings were to acquire a big name through trade, they might be best going with the Avs’ alternate captain.
Lombardi is never one to do anything without an eye to the future. In that regard, it’s less likely that they’d take on Duchene. However, it is possible to still pay Toffoli and Pearson and trade for the Colorado winger. Since this would primarily affect the bottom-six and third pairing on defense, theoretically, these changes shouldn’t have too much of an adverse effect. This does include placing Greene on LTIR for the entire season, meaning team and player would have to come to an agreement that he’s not playing 82 games because his prior injuries are too great. So with the $2.5 million gained from Greene’s salary, that pushes the amount of available cap space to just about $10 million to pay their six most important RFAs. Take a look at the table below:
LA Kings Armchair GM Roster and Salaries
|LONG-TERM INJURED RESERVE (1)|
|RECAPTURE PENALTY (1)|
Perhaps the only disadvantageous thing here is losing Dwight King from the lineup. He’s usually good for about 10 goals when he’s healthy (he’s currently at six on the season, so he’s pacing for double digits again) and Sutter absolutely loves him. King is also a pretty solid penalty killer and has a very reasonable AAV, which is wholly necessary in a hard cap era. The other downside is that this could possibly thrust Andy Andreoff or Jordan Nolan into more significant roles than most fans are probably comfortable with, though it could be a pleasant surprise as was the case with Nolan earlier this season.
But, of course, the upside in all of this a 25-goal scoring winger in his prime to play with Kopitar. If there’s any way to pull it off, Dean ought to try.