Guessing who the Colorado Avalanche trade targets might be this year is both easy and difficult. The possible acquisitions are all known quantities but we don’t know how aggressive Colorado’s front office will be in pursuit. The team is having an outstanding season thanks to a strong combination of existing stars and offseason acquisitions. Several major players have been injured but the Avs are healthy and sitting third in the Central Division behind the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. However, contending teams always look for that extra edge around the trade deadline and Colorado is no different. There are several players out there the front office could pursue to boost their Stanley Cup odds.
Avalanche Trade Targets
Option 1: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Jean-Gabriel Pageau is one of the hottest names in the trade rumour market. The Ottawa Senators centre would be a perfect fit as the third-line centre between two of Colorado’s dynamic wings. He currently has 19 goals and 30 points in 42 games. He is on pace to smash his previous high of 43 points with a point-per-game rate of .72. Pageau could finish with almost 60 points if his scoring keeps up.
He would not have as many scoring chances as an Av but the team could certainly use his scoring ability in the bottom-six along with his 81 hits. Colorado has used several options as its third centre including Tyson Jost and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare but does not seem committed to anyone right now. Pageau has all the tools to excel in that role this season and beyond if the team chooses to retain his services for 2020-21.
Option 2: Sami Vatanen
The New Jersey Devils Sami Vatanen fills a couple of needs for Colorado. First, he is a veteran defender with good puck-moving ability. Second, he has decent offensive instincts and right-handed shot NHL teams often want. Those two factors should interest an organization that is heavily reliant on a mixture of defenders that are either in age-related decline or are not as experienced as they might like.
Vatanen’s primary value comes on the powerplay where his 8.8 goals for/60 minutes would rank second among Colorado’s defenders. They do not have a second powerplay quarterback as effective as rookie Cale Makar, so an additional leader from the point might be on GM Joe Sakic‘s radar.
Option 3: Tyler Toffoli
The most notable wing on the trade block is Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers but Tyler Toffoli could be a cheaper option that is just as productive. The Los Angeles Kings forward has 27 points in 45 games compared to 29 in 43 for Kreider. Those are comparable numbers and while Toffoli might command a higher cap hit in free agency, the Kings are at a lower point in their rebuilding curve. They can’t afford to gouge teams in trade talks quite like New York can this season.
Toffoli would fit well on either the second or third line as an effective scoring option that also limits goals. His primary competition at that spot would be Joonas Donskoi but Donskoi is out with a concussion and fairly bad on defence. Toffoli would give coach Jared Bednar an experienced option for his frequent mixing of lines.
Option 4: Evan Rodrigues
Colorado and the Buffalo Sabres have been trading partners before, so there is no reason they can’t be again. Evan Rodrigues is just one current Sabres skater that has asked for a trade to a team that can give him a bigger role. He could find that as an Av as Colorado needs a better defensive third centre than Jost or J.T. Compher. Rodrigues has been a good shutdown player despite playing in a system that limits his offensive freedom.
Rodrigues doesn’t look that exciting but has more to offer than he’s been allowed to show in Buffalo. His shooting percentage has often been below league and he should have scored more goals than he has in the previous three years according to advanced metrics. The Sabres system is built too heavily around its top line to allow players like Rodrigues to succeed. Playing him next to more skilled Avalanche skaters could unlock a new gear for the 26-year-old.
Option 5: Brenden Dillon
Brenden Dillon of the San Jose Sharks would be an interesting alternative if Colorado chose not to pursue Vatanen. Dillon is a left-handed shot like most of the Avalanche defenders but is a far more physical presence. He has 142 hits compared to Vatanen’s 46. Dillon’s hit total would also lead Colorado by a wide margin. Physical play is something the Avs are lacking this season and Dillon would add that dimension in a big way.
Dillon would help balance team defence at even-strength in a way that Colorado’s other defenders cannot. The Avalanche are still outscoring teams but their ability to stop shots is lacking. It has lead to a situation where Colorado allows far too many scoring chances and their goaltending duo can do only so much. Adding a gritty player like Dillon would help correct some of those imbalances and add a new level of physical play for the postseason.