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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Eyeing Trades as Dismal Season Continues

USATSI_9780816_154158418_lowresThe Colorado Avalanche occupy last place in the NHL and that means trade speculation is running rampant once more. The club has dropped four straight and holds 25 points, with even the lowly Arizona Coyotes two points ahead in the standings. And to think, Arizona has dropped seven in a row.

Colorado has mustered just 76 goals ahead of Wednesday night’s tilt against the Calgary Flames. They’ve allowed a league-worst 125 goals against and have lost nine of their last 10 games.

Nathan MacKinnon leads the team in scoring with 25 points in 37 games, while Matt Duchene is second with 24 points in 33 games. Tyson Barrie, Mikko Rantanen and Rene Bourque round out the top five.

At this point, something’s got to change.

Rumour mills have been firing on all cylinders with trade possibilities emerging from every corner of the roster, but Duchene’s name has perhaps been coming up most often.

The 25-year-old does have a fair bit of trade value and word around the campfire is that general manager Joe Sakic is more sold on the idea of moving him than someone else. Gabriel Landeskog’s name has come up a fair bit, too, and some teams are kicking the tires.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sakic was shopping Landeskog to another Western Conference club ahead of the draft lottery but nothing developed.

There is word that Sakic has even pushed Landeskog to the Boston Bruins, with a young defenceman like Brandon Carlo providing the balance in the deal. As of this writing, the asking price is probably on the high side.

Jarome Iginla’s name has also come up, but he won’t pack as much trade value. He could make an attractive depth pickup for a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, but it’s not likely that the Avalanche will receive much in return.

Defence is obviously an issue, with Barrie perhaps the online blueliner worth discussing. He’s an intuitive hockey player, but things take a dip after him – as our 2016-2017 season preview illuminated.

The Avalanche have to address this problem if they want to pile up some wins, but that can be easier said than done – especially if Duchene’s contract is on the table. He carries an annual cap hit of $6 million through 2018-2019, which could be too steep for many teams in the running.

Still, it should be said that Colorado does have a solid group of core players. Mucking around with that core might do more harm than good over the long haul and this tough season could provide a learning experience for the likes of MacKinnon, Landeskog and Duchene.

Of course, selling a dismal season as a “learning experience” can be a tough sell for anyone and these kids want to win. Whether or not the front office has the opening to make some necessary changes is another thing altogether.

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