(TheScore.com) – The Avalanche, who own the NHL’s worst record of 12-23-1 and 25 points, are set to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. That means change is in order. It could also mean that the likes of Matt Duchene and captain Gabriel Landeskog find themselves in a new area code after the March 1 trade deadline. To pull off that blockbuster, good young defensemen or defensive prospects would need to be sent back to Denver, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
On paper this trade scenario screamsBoston Bruins involvement. The B’s have young D prospects up the wahzoo and they desperately need scoring help. Makes sense right? Well if I’m GM Don Sweeney and a trade doesn’t protect my future plans then I wouldn’t touch either of these deals with your (fill in the blank).
What Does Boston Have To Give Up?: If the names Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy came up in the conversation I’d hang up on Avs GM Joe Sakic. I’d block his number and I might even defriend him on Facebook too. It’s not even an option. Championship teams are built up the middle and from the back out. Goalie, top D (pair), center. And when you land top young D, usually through the draft, you hold onto them like the love of your life and lock them up for a long time. The B’s have set themselves up to hit on a few young defensive studs with their recent draft success and you don’t blow that up over players that although have a great pedigree, are currently carrying a lot of question marks.
However, the B’s should counter offer a trade package that consists of Ryan Spooner, Jakub Zboril, a draft pick, and shipping out Adam McQuaid (to any team to clear cap space) to seriously consider Gabriel Landeskog. Especially when McQuaid and Kevan Miller’s cap hits combine to basically equal that of Landeskog’s.
How Would It Affect Their Salary Cap?: One of the first things Don Sweeney did as GM was tackle the atrocious cap situation Peter Chiarelli put the organization in. And he’s done a pretty good job of managing it when you consider ownership loves to pressure him to spend so they can be a one-and-done playoff team. Landeskog carries a $5.5M cap hit through 2020-21 while Duchene’s $6M cap hit runs through 2018-19. So not only would the Bruins have to appease the Avs desire for a top D prospect but another player(s) would have to go. And then you have to consider David Pastrnak is going to get a huge raise this summer when his contract is up so they need to leave cap room for him.
If you bring in Duchene that means David Krejci (who has a no-movement clause) has to go and you still don’t have the scoring winger you really need. Getting Landeskog would probably force a Krejci out too and is David Backes the second line center you want? I’m not so sure it improves your team.
Who’s Protected From The Expansion Draft?: It’s a less talked about topic than it should be but if you bring in a Landeskog it means someone you intended on protecting from the upcoming Las Vegas expansion draft is now fair game and likely gone. Maybe that means you lose some one like a Matt Beleskey. Sure his cap hit would vanish, which helps, but adding $5.5 million per year players impacts your depth as you have to let go of good players in the $1-3 million per range.
It’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but you can only protect so many guys from the expansion draft and Landeskog forces someone you had pegged for your safe list out of town next summer.
Who Are The Bruins?: This is probably the part that really matters the most. Who are they? A Cup contender? A basement team? They’re in NHL purgatory by being stuck in the middle. They’ve refused to burn it down and rebuild like most do (i.e.: Toronto) and they’ll happily trade assets for band-aid rentals that eventually don’t get them the cash from a couple home playoff games. Essentially, they’re in denial.
On the flip side of that argument the NHL is parity filled. You really can sneak in the playoffs and suddenly make it to a conference final because of the divisional format of the playoffs. You just never know, and you always want a shot at it.
At the end of the day it’s okay if you suck for a little while. The Bruins have done such a good job at replenishing the prospect cupboard over the past two seasons that I wouldn’t want them to ruin that for what seems to be knee jerk trades. They’re going to have a lot of good young talent on cheap entry-level deals over the next four seasons and that creates cap space for them to really target better fitting players to fill their needs. And although he’s a steal at his cap hit when he’s producing, I’m not convinced Landeskog is the solution. I’d rather the B’s get Duchene, and even then I’m not sure that really makes this team any better than it is right now.
The big picture is more important than this spring. And if the Bruins have to sacrifice important pieces of that future by shooting from the hip then count me out. Outside of the Milan Lucic (salary dump) deal Don Sweeney hasn’t shown he can pull off a trade that protects the bigger picture.