Monday, February 27, 2012

Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi to San Jose for Jamie McGinn and Prospects

This post, written by yours truly, also appears at The Hockey Writers

The 2012 trade deadline was more a trade dudline (how many times have you heard that one) but the Avalanche managed to be involved in one of the bigger transactions of the day.

Colorado shipped forward Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi, along with a 7th round pick in the 2012 draft to San Jose for forward Jamie McGinn, and prospects Michael Sgarbossa and Mike Connolly.

Though it may feel like a hard hit (Winnik was a fan favorite and Galiardi's twitter account had many of us in stitches), GM Greg Sherman did make the Avalanche a better team through this deal.

Dater does a nice job breaking it down, but let's take one more quick look at the deal:

McGinn is having a breakout year of sorts and should fit in nicely to the third line. I'll let the fans at "Fear the Fin" do the talking on the pickup:

Hits really f(******) hard, and has good offensive skills. Can produce on power play as well as 5 on 5. He’s not very good defensively but he may improve. He’s been the bright spot on our trash third line this season…his behindthenet stats aren’t that impressive but I honestly think that’s more of a reflection of how bad Handzus and Mitchell are. RFA at the end of the season but he shouldn’t cost you guys that much going forward. [FtF]

Sad to see McGinn go. It seemed he had his nose in the game nearly every shift. His passing was much improved lately and he really had his head in the game and seeing the ice. I don’t think this one is going to go over too well in the locker room. [FtF]

I feel like Ginner was one of our core guys… not in the traditional sense of top 6, but moreso in what he brought to the ice and the consistent effort he put out every night to get the other guys back into the game. For a team whose chemistry already looks to be struggling, I wonder if this will be good in the end. We shall see. [FtF]
So it appears as though the Avs got a guy who is great in the locker room, brings a consistently physical game to the rink every night, and can score a few goals (12 this season) every now and then, or at least as many as many as Galiardi (8) and Winnik (5). He sounds like a classic Avalanche player (except for the physical part, perhaps?) and, along with Steve Downie, automatically will make the Avs tougher to play against.

As for the prospects, it seems that the Avalanche did well in that regard, too.

Mike Connolly has spent the 2011-12 season in the American Hockey League. He spent the previous three seasons as one of the top players in the WCHA as a member of University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. He helped lead the team to an NCAA Championship in 2011. Hockey's Future has him pegged as a one-day borderline second-line forward in the NHL.

The more intriguing piece is Michael Sgarbossa, a 19-year-old left winger currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League. And when I say playing, I mean playing. He's tearing up the OHL, having scored 41 goals and 39 assists in in 54 games for the Sudbury Wolves this season. Hockey's Future has him rated slightly lower than Connolly, but he seems to be an exciting player that definitely has a chance at making an impact with the Avalanche one day.

Overall, a lot of credit needs to go to Greg Sherman in shaping this team. Yeah, I was pretty pissed about Downie, but in the short term, at least, he's been nothing but a positive. Sherman has managed to stop the team with some legitimate top-6 players (Duchene, Stastny, O'Reilly, Landeskog, Mueller, Hejduk, Downie), a gritty (and potentially very effective) third line (Olver, McGinn, Jones) and a serviceable fourth line (McClement, Kobasew, McLeod/Porter).

The Avalanche sit two points back of the 8th spot. With 19 games to go, a consistent month of hockey will be enough for the Avs to make the playoffs and gain some valuable experience for the future.

Today will help realize that goal.

Go Avs.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Avs Trade Quincey for Steve Downie


Welcome your newest Av, he of 53 career goals (252 games) and 638 career penalty minutes. He comes at the expense of one of Colorado's most reliable defensemen, Kyle Quincey, who has been having a solid bounce back campaign in 2011-12.

For a team that is in DIRE need of top six forwards (specifically, a winger that can put the puck into the net), Colorado didn't exactly fill the need with Steve Downie. Downie, 24, has 12 goals and 16 assists in 55 games this season, along with 121 penalty minutes.

His best season came in 2009-10, when he scored 22 goals and was a +14 for the Lightning.

It's a puzzling move for the Avalanche. Rumors have been swirling about Philadelphia's James Van Riemsdyk and Columbus' Jeff Carter, both of whom would have given the Avs the goal scorer they so desperately desire.

Downie, on the other hand, is really nothing more than another second or third liner to throw into the system. Listed as a center, Downie has spent a lot of time playing on the wing, and on the plus side, isn't afraid to get dirty and throw his body around.

But it's still mystifying that the Avalanche used Quincey, one of the most valuable trade commodities on the team, to land a player that will likely not make any more of an impact than 10-15 goals a season.

Downie, like Quincey, will be a restricted free agent after this season.


Well this changes things. Sort of.

We all know that the Avs lack a first round pick this year. We all know that first round picks can be quite valuable.

Apparently, Kyle Quincey = a first round pick. But the Avalanche only were able to come up with Kyle Quincey = Steve Downie. Steve Downie < first round pick.

The Avs got crappy value from this deal, a trend in the Sherman era of GMing.

More later.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jones Should Stay


This article, written by yours truly, originally appeared on The Hockey Writers.

With the NHL trade deadline just two weeks away, it's time for teams to decide whether they will be "buyers" or "sellers" on February 27th. For some teams - Columbus, Carolina, Edmonton - no pending free agent or grizzled veteran is safe. These players could be attractive options for the buyers - think New York, Boston, Detroit, Vancouver - who may believe that they are just one piece away from hoisting Lord Stanley this June.

Other teams, however, are in a state of limbo. This is where the Avalanche fit in. Currently one point out of the eight spot in the West, the Avalanche is in a dog fight with at least four other teams for the final spot. If Greg Sherman and crew believes that this team has what it takes to secure that spot and possibly even make a deep playoff run, then we should see the Avs holding on to their assets and perhaps even going out and landing a top 9 forward. If, on the other hand, the team does not believe this group is going anywhere, certain players become available

Enter: Adrian Dater.

Last Monday, the Avalanche beat writer penned a blog post in which he speculated that David Jones, Shane O'Brien, and Kyle Quincey could all be on their way out of Colorado by the deadline. Puck Daddy also got in on the fun last week, naming Quincey as one of the seven most intriguing defensemen to look at on trade day.

Listen, folks. Getting rid of any of these guys is a bad idea - unless there is player of equal value coming back. However, as much as Avalanche fans enjoy Shane O'Brien's toughness and leadership and Kyle Quincey's guts and potential, the Avs have a ton of defenseman on the verge of making the team next season (Barrie, Gaunce, Siemens), so getting rid of a veteran defenseman or two to make room certainly makes sense.

David Jones, on the other hand? I'm not so sure. Let's take a closer look:

Dater makes a lot of good and completely valid points about David Jones. He's had a sub par season, not to mention the fact that he's an unrestricted free agent this summer. As Dater notes,
The Avs need to get something for him if they don’t plan to re-sign him. It’ll be just bad management if they don’t.
I'm not sure if Jones reads his press, but in the two games since these rumors began, Jones has two goals and three assists in two Avalanche victories. There's no doubt that he's been ineffective this season - terrible at times, even. But Jones is still just 27, and his twelve goals are still good enough to tie him for fifth on the team.

It's not as though his supporting cast is doing any better, either. Very few goal scorers are remarkable by themselves. Jones has played much of the year with Paul Stastny (on his way to a second straight disappointing season) and Jay McClement (not exactly an offensive juggernaut). Yes, Jones must be held accountable for his play, but fans tend to blame lackluster results on the player rather than looking at the broader situation. No one is arguing that Jones is an elite NHL goal scorer. But he's certainly a serviceable one. (Check out his snipe from Tuesday's game against the Blackhawks, below).



Furthermore, the bigger issue that the Avs are facing is depth. It's no secret that the Avalanche hasn't been strong on the wings in a long while. Currently, the top four consists of three mainstays: the soon-to-be-gone Milan Hejduk, oft-injured, but effective Peter Mueller, and the promising Gabriel Landeskog. The fourth winger? A mix of Jones, TJ Galiardi, and Chuck Kobasew. Not exactly an All Star ensemble.

Sure, this problem may be addressed when Matt Duchene, who transformed from center to winger earlier this season, returns, but does that mean Duchene's days as an NHL center are already over?

Finally, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that in two weeks, the Avalanche's playoff hopes will still be alive. Given that the team has no first round pick this season, it's playoffs or nothing for the fans. If the Washington Capitals go up to the draft podium with a top ten pick, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that Greg Sherman's days in Colorado could be numbered. That said, given that the team is within striking distance, I don't see how Avalanche management could justify shipping one of its leading, albeit most inconsistent, goal scorers away, especially when he finally appears to be heating up.

Jones is still young and is still capable of providing important secondary scoring for the Avalanche. If he is to be traded, a similar player needs to be headed to Colorado. Otherwise, this season may be going to the dumps.

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