The End Of An Era? Matt Duchene Trade Partners

It was simpler times. It felt like a perfect marriage.

There was nothing but smiles, joy and happiness when the Colorado Avalanche drafted the speedy centerman 3rd overall in the 2009 Entry Level Draft marking the start of a rebuild in Denver. Growing up as a diehard Avalanche fan and worshiping the organization’s greats like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, Matt Duchene was suppose to lead the charge of a second wave of excellence in Colorado.

It almost feels like yesterday when Matt Duchene tweeted after the 2013 season that he was looking forward to bringing a Stanley Cup back to Colorado. How he wanted nothing more than to be part of the Avs for the rest of his career.

Now… honestly, it feels like that was eons ago.

Matt Duchene‘s name has been firmly planted in trade speculation since November 2015. It seemed like he was on his way out of Denver last summer until the Avs decided to give the team’s core another shot. And then…

Well, the Avalanche finished in dead last by miles and found themselves making history as the worst team in the salary cap era, finishing with a measly 48 points. And throughout the tumultuous, embarrassing season, trade chatters involving Duchene only grew louder.

All the losing and the unknown of whether he was going to be traded by the team he grew up idolizing, who he had given 8 seasons of his life to, started to weigh on Duchene. It culminated in statistically his second worse output of his career, scoring only 18 goals and 41 points in 77 games. In the final 35 games of the season, Duchene only managed to score 2 goals and 12 points.

As the season started to inch to a close, Duchene was asked many times whether or not he wanted to stay. His response? Truncated, Duchene would be opened to a trade (but would be happy if he stayed put although it surely doesn’t feel that way).

The kid from Haliburton, Ontario who dreamed of playing for the Colorado Avalanche no longer seems to care whether he stays or not. All of the losing and lack of success combined with constantly hearing his name in trade speculation has gotten to Matt Duchene. Both the Colorado Avalanche and Matt Duchene need a fresh start. It’s only a matter of time before the proverbial divorce papers are signed. It’s a real shame as Matt Duchene felt like an Avalanche lifer.

Top notch insiders such as Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger of TSN have gone on record and saying that they both think that Duchene is likely traded (they said the same thing last summer too but it seems almost certain this time around).

Joe Sakic has been rumored to want a young defenseman (20-24 years of age) with NHL experience, a top prospect and a 1st round pick in exchange for Matt Duchene. The question is can the Avs even get that kind of return especially since Duchene‘s trade value isn’t at the highest as previous years? Are the Avs willing to budge on that? Will any team pay that kind of price? If no one does, will the Avs keep Duchene or sell him to the highest bidder regardless? Going to be interesting with the Draft just days away.

Let’s take a look at the 6 (best) possible destinations for Matt Duchene.

The New York Islanders

Longtime TSN broadcaster Gord Miller tweeted a week ago that he heard that the New York Islanders were the front runners to land Matt Duchene.

Not surprising if true. The Islanders were in the mix to acquire Duchene at the trade deadline. From an Islanders perspective, adding Matt Duchene makes a ton of sense. Their superstar captain John Tavares’ contract expires next summer. The Islanders have gone back and forth from making the playoffs to missing them the past several years. In order to sway Tavares from testing the free agent market next summer, the Islanders have to make some moves to bring in help to show Tavares they are serious about winning. Duchene and Tavares are also good friends. You want to make Tavares happy, acquiring a highly skilled forward who he’s friends with seems like a good idea.

What would a potential trade look like?

The Islanders don’t have any real young stud defenders with NHL experience. They do have a couple of 26-27 year old d-men that they would be willing to part with in Calvin De Haan and Travis Hamonic.

What the Islanders do have that could tempt the Avs to unload Duchene is the 15th overall selection in this year’s draft and a top forward prospect in Matthew Barzal.

Would the Islanders have any interest in unloading Barzal, a 1st round pick and one of De Haan/Hamonic? Considering the situation they are currently in, it seems possible. Would the Avs take the trade? Depending on what other offers they get, it seems like a decent enough of a trade. Although they don’t get a young stud d-man in this potential deal, they get a fairly young d-man who can play in their top 4, a top prospect, and another 1st round pick.

It seems like the Islanders have the assets to pull off such a deal. It’s very possible.

In a perfect world, the trade would be: Calvin De Haan, Matthew Barzal and the 15th overall pick in the 2017 Entry Draft for Matt Duchene.

**RUMOR** IslandersRyan Strome has popped up in a potential Matt Duchene trade.

***NOTE*** It appears the Islanders will be trading the 15th overall pick to the Golden Knights.

The Carolina Hurricanes

There’s probably no better trading partners than the Carolina Hurricanes in regards to a potential Matt Duchene trade. Not only do the Hurricanes have a plethora of young d-men that the Avs would want but the Hurricanes are a team that is in need of a skilled centerman like Matt Duchene.

The problem here is maybe they are too perfect of a fit. The Hurricanes, especially in recent history, have never been a team known to make a blockbuster trade but instead try to build from within.

Another issue that comes up is that Matt Duchene only has 2 years left on his contract before he becomes an UFA. The Hurricanes have never been able to attract big ticketed free agents so maybe they’re worried that if they do acquire Duchene that he’ll walk from them in 2 years. It’s definitely something to consider.

But if the Hurricanes do want Duchene, they have many defensemen they could offer up. Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin or even Brett Pesce would be the guys that the Avs would really want as a center piece for a Duchene trade. The Hurricanes would probably want to trade the Avs Justin Faulk or Haydn Fleury in a possible trade. The Hurricanes also have prospect Jake Bean as a potential trade piece.

If the Avs were to acquire Hanifin or Slavin, it would most likely be a 1 for 1 trade… maybe the Avs could get a mid round pick out of it as well. But the Avs won’t be getting a 1st round pick and a top prospect along with it. If Pesce were to come back to Colorado it would be likely the Avs could get a 1st round pick in this year’s draft and maybe a prospect along with it.

Perfect trading partners. Both teams have the other’s need. But can they get something done with one another? It remains to be seen.

The Montreal Canadiens

They would have been ideal trading partners as the Montreal Canadiens had blue chip defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev who the Avs badly wanted at last year’s draft. But on June 15, the Canadiens traded Sergachev along with a conditional 2nd round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for high flying Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 6th round pick.

The piece the Avs would have wanted most of all would have been Sergachev. Now that Sergachev is gone, the likelihood of Duchene being dealt to Montreal lessens.

However, Montreal still needs a centerman. They don’t see Alex Galchenyuk as a center and rumors are swirling that the Habs are tying to deal him. Is it possible the Avs and the Canadiens would consider a scenario where Duchene heads to Montreal for Galcheyuk, the 25th overall pick in this year’s draft, and d-man prospect Noah Juulsen.

The question is, would Montreal even consider trading that kind of package for Duchene? And if they would consider that, would that interest the Avalanche? I’m not sure either way but it sounds like the Habs want multiple pieces for Galchenyuk so this deal seems highly unlikely.

Wouldn’t say it’s unlikely or not going to happen but Montreal as a trading partner took a hit when Mikhail Sergachev was dealt to Tampa.

The Columbus Blue Jackets

Considering they traded their #1 center a year and a half ago in Ryan Johansen to Nashville for d-man Seth Jones and that last year they passed over a consensus top 3 pick in winger Jesse Puljujarvi for centerman Pierre-Luc Dubois, seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets as potential suitors for Matt Duchene is no shocker.

There’s a need from the Blue Jackets’ perspective and they do have some pieces that could make a Matt Duchene trade work but a lot like the Islanders, the Blue Jackets don’t have a true young stud on the blueline (that they’re willing to trade) that the Avs would covet.

Defensemen Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are non-starters for the Blue Jackets. They are staying put in Columbus. Avs would love to get their hands on either one but that’s simply not happening.

The defenseman the Blue Jackets would trade would be Ryan Murray. Murray was drafted 2nd overall in the 2012 draft. The 23 year old d-man hasn’t panned out as he and many others expected. The former top prospect has been plagued with injuries and offensively hasn’t shown a ton. Is he the guy the Avs would want the centerpiece of a Matt Duchene trade to be? I don’t know but the Jackets would certainly have to entice the Avs with other pieces as well.

The Blue Jackets currently have the 24th overall pick in the upcoming draft but it appears that 24th overall pick will become property of the Vegas Golden Knights. Though it has not been announced, it is expected the Jackets will trade that pick to Vegas in exchange for staying clear of certain players in the Expansion Draft. That hurts a potential trade with the Avs but a next year’s 1st round pick could still be an option.

The Jackets do have plenty of intriguing young forwards that they could part with in beefing up a trade offer for Matt Duchene. Potential names include Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sonny Milano, Gabriel Carlsson, Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson and William Karlsson.

Columbus has a Matt Duchene-shaped hole in their lineup but I don’t know the likelihood of Duchene going to the Blue Jackets. There’s a possibility but unsure if they’re in the mix or not.

The Ottawa Senators

When Matt Duchene‘s name first came up in the rumor mill in November 2015, the first team that was linked to it was the Ottawa Senators. And they have been linked to Duchene ever since.

This past trade deadline the Ottawa Senators were in hot pursuit of Duchene and some insiders believed that a Duchene trade to the Senators was close. But in the end, the Senators threw in the towel and backed out of the Duchene sweepstakes. Senators GM Pierre Dorion made it clear the price was too steep. That sentiment was echoed by Senators‘ owner Eugene Melnyk, in a very dismissive condescending tone, saying “Did you hear what they want for Duchene? Oh my God!”

The Avs were rumored to have wanted the Senators‘ 1st round pick, their top defensive prospect Thomas Chabot and top forward prospect Colin White. (You could see why the Sens scoffed at this proposal).

But you got to think, the Senators lost in double OT in game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins. They were one goal away from ousting the Pens. The Sens need a #1 center. They were so close to making the Cup finals. Is it possible the Sens double back to the Avs for Duchene knowing that they were so close to eliminating the eventual Cup champs? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has wondered this himself,

What would would a potential trade look like? Well, Thomas Chabot isn’t going anywhere. Not a chance Ottawa trades him.

At this point, defenseman Cody Ceci, Colin White and a 1st round pick for Duchene seems like something that would interest the Avs. The Sens probably wouldn’t want to offer that much. The Avs would rather want Chabot over Ceci. So they meet in the middle?

The Nashville Predators

The most interesting team on this list, the dark horse if you will, is the Nashville Predators.

The Predators are interesting. The only area of weakness in their organization is down the middle. They have Ryan Johansen whom they acquired for Seth Jones a year and a half ago but not much after that. Nashville made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They snuck by the Anaheim Ducks in the western conference finals after losing Johansen to injury. The loss of Johansen was a fatal blow to the Preds as they just couldn’t compete with the Penguins‘ elite centers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Having a JohansenDuchene one-two punch down the middle, combined with good goaltending and arguably the league’s best defensive group could make Nashville a near favourite to bring home a Stanley Cup come this time next year.

One thing that does concern me is that Nashville and Colorado are in the same division. If you’re going to deal Duchene, it’s best to trade him to a different conference or at the very least a different division. The Avs definitely don’t want to be burned by a Duchene trade especially if they have to be reminded of it 4-5 times a year when they play Nashville.

What would a potential trade look like? Well, the Avs wouldn’t be getting there hands on one of Nashville‘s top 4 studs on the blueline. P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm aren’t going anywhere.

Preds could offer up d-man Dante Fabbro, forward Kevin Fiala and the 29th overall selection in this year’s draft for Matt Duchene. Fabbro was the Predators‘ 1st round selection last year and was teammates/roommates with Tyson Jost in their draft year. Fiala was the Preds‘ 1st round selection in 2014. Although he only has 17 points in 60 NHL games, Fiala has been a prolific scorer in the AHL. Maybe not ‘sexy’ names to get in a Duchene trade but still good young players with a lot of upside.

Are we in the final days of the Duchene era? Time will certainly tell but it sure does feel like it.

Avalanche Protection List

Earlier this morning the NHL released the protection lists for all 30 teams. As I said last night, the Avalanche will go the option of 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goaltender route instead of the 8 skaters, 1 goalie route.

The 7 forwards the Avs are protecting: Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Sven Andrighetto, Matt Nieto, Blake Comeau and Rocco Grimaldi.

There are no real surprises here. The only mild surprising name protected is Rocco Grimaldi who only played 4 games with the Avs this past season. The rest of the players protected were expected.

The 3 defensemen protected were obvious for over a year now. The Avs have protected Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov. And the goalie, as reported by BSNDenver in April, the Avs have chosen to protect Semyon Varlamov.

So to sum up, the Avs have protected MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog, Andrighetto, Nieto, Comeau, Grimaldi, Johnson, Barrie, Zadorov and Varlamov.

The notable names the Avs have left unprotected include forwards Mikhail Grigorenko, Joe Colborne and Carl Soderberg, defenseman Mark Barberio and goaltender Calvin Pickard.

Protection List News

Today at 5 PM EST, all 30 NHL teams were to hand in their protection lists to the NHL. The NHL will make all the protection lists public on Sunday June 18 at 10 AM EST.

Although we’ll find out who the Avalanche will protect tomorrow morning, we do know however which route the Avs will go regarding their protection list. The Avs will go the 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie route.

This was confirmed when the clock hit 5 PM EST earlier this evening. If the Avs were to go the 8 skaters, 1 goalie route, that would mean the Avs would protect defenseman Mark Barberio. And if the Avs were to protect Barberio (thus going the 8-1 route) the Avs would have to re-sign one of Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch or Fedor Tyutin as Expansion Draft rules state that each team has to expose 1 d-man who is under contract for next season AND has played in either 40 games this past season OR 70 games combined in the prior two seasons. Barberio is the only d-man who fulfills that requirement and since the Avs didn’t re-sign any of the three names mentioned above, Barberio will have to be left unprotected.

However, the Avs could still hypothetically trade a pick or a prospect to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for not picking Barberio in the Expansion Draft. But that’s very unlikely since the Avs don’t have a ton of assets at their disposal and losing Barberio isn’t going to make or break the Avs. He is, however, a player the Avs don’t want to lose if they had their choice,

It’s already been confirmed by Adrian Dater of BSNDenver that the goalie the Avs will protect is Semyon Varlamov. The 3 d-men the Avs will protect is a no-brainer. They will protect Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov.

The 7 forwards the Avs will protect is a bit cloudy at the moment. They will protect Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Sven Andrighetto and Matt Nieto. That will leave two more forwards that the Avs can protect. Among the remaining candidates are Mikhail Grigorenko, Blake Comeau, Carl Soderberg, Joe Colborne and Rocco Grimaldi. I don’t have a guess on the direction the Avs will go here but if it was my decision I would protect Mikhail Grigorenko and Blake Comeau.

Tomorrow at 10 AM EST we will find out the Avs‘ protection list (as well as every other team in the NHL).

Wednesday June 21 we will find out who the Avs will lose to Vegas.

At 3 PM EST today began a trade freeze. The trade freeze ends on Thursday morning on June 22. In this time frame, the only trades that the 30 NHL teams can make are with the Vegas Golden Knights.

On Friday June 23, the 1st round of the 2017 Entry Draft begins where the Avs draft 4th overall. Rounds 2-7 are scheduled for Saturday June 24. Busy week.

Avs Buy Out Beauchemin

Bye Bye Beauchemin

After weeks, if not months, of speculating on whether or not the Colorado Avalanche would buy out defenseman Francois Beauchemin, on June 15 we finally got clarity on the situation.

It was announced on Thursday, just days before Expansion Draft protection lists would need to be submitted, that the Avalanche will buy out the final year of Francois Beauchemin’s contract.

Beauchemin was signed to a 3 year, $13.5 million contract on July 1 2015. In his two seasons with the Avs, Beauchemin played in every single game but one, scoring 13 goals and 52 points in 163 games.

Beauchemin, 37, had a No Movement clause which would require the Avalanche to protect him in the Expansion Draft if he declined to waive it.

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Beauchemin‘s agent was informed by Avalanche GM Joe Sakic on June 14 of their decision to buy out Beauchemin‘s contract. Beauchemin was also not asked by the Avalanche to waive his NMC either.

Expansion Draft Protection List

Now with Beauchemin being a non-factor heading into the Expansion Draft, the Avalanche have a choice between going the 7 forwards, 3 d-men, 1 goalie route or the 8 skaters, 1 goalie route.

If the Avs go the 8-1 route that would mean the Avs would want to protect defenseman Mark Barberio. If that’s the case, the Avs would have to quickly sign one of Patrick Wiercioch, Cody Goloubef or Fedor Tyutin so they can satisfy Expansion Draft exposure requirements of having one d-man exposed who is under contract for next season AND has either played in 40 games this past season OR 70 games combined in the previous two seasons.

If Saturday night comes around and the Avs have not re-signed one of the three mentioned names from above, Barberio will be exposed in the Expansion Draft and the Avalanche will go the 7-3-1 route.

The 7 forwards the Avs would protect? Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Sven Andrighetto and Matt Nieto would be locks. Then the Avs would have to choose two of the following to protect: Mikhail Grigorenko, Blake Comeau, Joe Colborne, Carl Soderberg.

Avalanche & Expansion Draft Scenarios

I have already done my pieces on the Expansion Draft where I posted protection lists for all 30 teams before I drafted a team for the Vegas Golden Knights.

But now it’s time to take a closer look at what the Colorado Avalanche might do as there are plenty of possibilities. Each team must submit their respective protection lists by June 17 and the Golden Knights will reveal their selections on June 21.

And once again as a refresher, here are the rules the 30 teams must follow regarding their protection lists:

  • A choice between protecting either 7 forwards, 3 d-men, 1 goalie OR 8 skaters, 1 goalie.
  • All players who currently have effective and going forward “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who decline to wave those clauses) must be protected. They WILL also count toward their club’s protection limits.
  • A team must expose at least one d-man who is under contract for next season AND has played in either 40 games or more this past season or 70 games or more combined in the previous two seasons.
  • A team must expose at least two forwards who are under contract for next season AND has played in either 40 games or more this past season or 70 games or more combined in the previous two seasons.
  • A team must expose at least one goaltender who is either under contract for next season or is a RFA (restricted free agent) at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.

So there are the rules the Avs must follow in order to be compliant with Expansion Draft rules.

Believe it or not, there are many different ways the Colorado Avalanche could go (although the 8 skaters route seems most likely) with their protection list. And it all hinges on what happens with one specific player who is currently under contract with the AvsFrancois Beauchemin.

Beauchemin, to put it mildly, is at the end of his career and hurts the team on the ice more than he helps. The 37 year old still has another year left on his contract that holds a cap hit of $4.5 million annually. That contract also has a No Movement clause which requires the Avalanche to protect him in the Expansion Draft if he refuses to waive the clause.

So that puts the Avs in a situation where they could potentially lose a player who would be more of contributor in their line-up if Beauchemin does not waive his NMC. The Avalanche also have the option of buying out the remaining year of Beauchemin‘s contract which would mean the Avs would not have to protect him.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at all potential scenarios for the Avalanche regarding the Expansion Draft and their protection list.

Francois Beauchemin isn’t bought out, refuses to waive his No Movement clause

Former long time Denver Post beat writer, currently with BSNDenver, Adrian Dater has reported that he has heard that the Colorado Avalanche will not be buying out Francois Beauchemin. Even though he said that things could change he also said that it isn’t likely at this point. (UPDATE: Adrian Dater has since stated that he is getting mixed signals on the situation and he doesn’t know what’s going to happen anymore).

Let’s assume Adrian Dater is correct and the Avs aren’t buying out Francois Beauchemin‘s contract. And let’s also assume that Beauchemin won’t waive his No Movement clause. If Beauchemin doesn’t waive his No Move then he would have to be protected and the Avs would only have one option:

Protect 8 skaters, 1 goaltender (instead of 7 forwards, 3 d-men, 1 goaltender).

What would the Avs protection list look like in this scenario?

  • Nathan MacKinnon
  • Gabriel Landeskog
  • Matt Duchene
  • Sven Andrighetto^
  • Erik Johnson
  • Tyson Barrie
  • Nikita Zadorov
  • Francois Beauchemin
  • Semyon Varlamov

Regardless of how things play out in the days heading into the Expansion Draft, MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog, Johnson, Barrie, Zadorov and Varlamov will be protected by the Avalanche. They are safe.

Erik Johnson does have a No Move so he has to be protected and even if he didn’t have one he would be protected anyway.

There’s been lots of chatter and debate among Avalanche fans online about which goalie the Avs should protect: Varlamov or Calvin Pickard? There are great arguments on both sides but as Adrian Dater reported, the Avalanche will protect Semyon Varlamov thus exposing Calvin Pickard.

^ I have Sven Andrighetto protected on my list. The Swiss forward had 15 points in 19 games since coming over in a trade from Montreal in exchange for bruising forward Andreas Martinsen. Andrighetto had immediate chemistry with Nate MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen and was one of the Avs‘ best forwards down the stretch. However, it’s not a slam dunk that the Avs protect him. It’s unclear at this moment.

If Andrighetto is protected that would leave forwards Matt Nieto and Mikhail Grigorenko exposed. And in my opinion, these are the three pieces that the Avs have to choose between and they can only protect one of them. In my opinion, it should be Sven Andrighetto.

And because Francois Beauchemin is protected in this scenario that would leave d-man Mark Barberio exposed. Barberio was claimed off of waivers from Montreal and was nothing short of impressive for the Avs.

In this scenario, where Beauchemin isn’t bought out and doesn’t waive his No Move, the Avs could protect Barberio but then they couldn’t protect Andrighetto. And in the case they do decide to protect Barberio over Andrighetto, the Avalanche would have to re-sign one of Patrick Wiercioch, Fedor Tyutin, or Cody Goloubef, The reason? Barberio is the only d-man that fulfills the Expansion Draft exposure requirement. Each team needs to expose at least one d-man who is under contract for next season and has played in either 40 games this past season or 70 games combined in the prior two seasons. So keep that in mind.

But in this scenario, I’ll stick to the protected list that I mentioned above. The Avs can protect those players and satisfy exposure requirements as can be seen below.

  • Forward Exposure Requirement: 3/2. Joe Colborne, Blake Comeau, Carl Soderberg.
  • D-men Exposure Requirement: 1/1. Mark Barberio.
  • Goalie Exposure Requirement: 1/1. Calvin Pickard.

Francois Beauchemin isn’t bought, agrees to waive his No Movement clause

Well, if this is the case, the Avalanche would have the option to protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie (oppose to being forced into protecting 8 skaters in the first scenario) if they so choose to.

If they choose to go the 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie route (although I just don’t see them going this route), their protection list would look something like this:

  • Nathan MacKinnon
  • Gabriel Landeskog
  • Matt Duchene
  • Sven Andrighetto
  • Matt Nieto
  • Mikhail Grigorenko
  • Blake Comeau
  • Erik Johnson
  • Tyson Barrie
  • Nikita Zadorov
  • Semyon Varlamov

The reason why the Avs probably won’t go this route is that the Avs don’t really have 7 forwards worth protecting. Nothing against Grigorenko or Comeau but I’m not sure if they’re in danger of getting chosen by the Golden Knights although I wouldn’t be shocked if they were either.

If the Avs don’t want to protect Grigorenko or Comeau, they could protect Rocco Grimaldi. Grimaldi, only played 4 games this season with the Avs but the 24 year old speedy winger led the San Antonio Rampage with 31 goals and 55 points. The Golden Knights also have to build a minor league team as well so taking a guy like Grimaldi would make a ton of sense.

In still keeping with the scenario of Beauchemin waiving his No Move, the Avs also have the option of protecting 8 skaters/1 goalie as well. And the Avs could go a couple of ways here.

Option 1: Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Sven Andrighetto, Matt Nieto, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, Semyon Varlamov.

Option 2: Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Sven Andrighetto, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, Mark Barberio, Semyon Varlamov.

Option 1 doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. Option 1 has 5 forwards, 3 d-men protected. With this option, the Avs protect their five forwards that are worth protecting and who would be chosen if they were left unprotected. On the defensive side, the Avs protect their 3 major pieces that they can’t stand to lose. They would leave Mark Barberio exposed but the Avs would just have to hope someone else entices the Golden Knights instead. This option fulfills Expansion Draft requirements as well.

Option 2 is exactly like option 1 except it swaps Matt Nieto for Mark Barberio. With Beauchemin waiving his No Move, he would be left unprotected and would fulfill the exposure requirement of a d-man being under contract for next season and having played 40 games last season or 70 games combined in the prior two seasons. The Avs wouldn’t have to re-sign any other defensemen and would be free to protect Barberio if they choose to. This option would also fulfill Expansion Draft requirements.

So the Avs have plenty of options in this scenario…

And just a side note, this scenario is pretty likely. Although this is me speculating, it would seem the Avs and Beauchemin have come to an agreement where the Avs wouldn’t buy him out in exchange for him waiving his NMC. It’s something that would benefit both sides. On the Avs side, the Avs don’t have to protect him while protecting a better asset. For Beauchemin, it’s basically certain that he won’t get chosen in the Expansion Draft so he won’t have to uproot his family and he’s guaranteed to play one more year in the NHL. If the Avs buy out Beauchemin, it’s unlikely he’ll get another job in the NHL thus ending his career. He would also get his contractual $4.5 million. He would lose a third of that in a buy out.

Francois Beauchemin is bought out

And the final scenario sees Francois Beauchemin getting bought out of his final year of his contract. According to Adrian Dater, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen. But in any case, let’s explore this scenario.

In this scenario, the Avs could go the 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goaltender route or the 8 skaters, 1 goaltender route.

The 7-3-1 route they could/would go can be seen above in scenario 2 (no need to write that out again).

The 8-1 route and possible ways the Avs could go with this route is also laid out in scenario 2.

But I will repeat this since it’s very important. If Francois Beauchemin gets bought out and if the Avs want to protect Mark Barberio then the Avs will have to re-sign one Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch or Fedor Tyutin. Barberio is the d-man that fulfills the Expansion Draft d-man exposure requirement for the Avs. If the Avs want to protect Barberio, especially in this scenario where Beauchemin is bought out, then the Avs would have no d-men that fulfills the d-man exposure requirement. Re-signing one of Goloubef, Tyutin or Wiercioch would fulfill the exposure requirement.

We understand?

My Own Personal Protection List For The Avs

This is who I would protect if I were in the Avalanche‘s shoes.

First and foremost, I would either buy out Francois Beauchemin or get him to waive his No Movement clause. In any case, if I were the man in charge, there’s no chance you would see Beauchemin on my protection list.

If I were going the 7-3-1 route my protection list would be: Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Sven Andrighetto, Matt Nieto, Mikhail Grigorenko, Blake Comeau, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, Calvin Pickard.

If I were going the 8-1 route my protection list would be: Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Sven Andrighetto, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, Mark Barberio, Calvin Pickard.

My explanation for protecting Pickard over Semyon Varlamov? Personally, there’s basically zero chance of Vegas taking Varlamov in the Expansion Draft. There is somewhat of a chance that Pickard is selected by the Golden Knights. Pickard is 4-5 years younger than Varlamov and has a cheap contract of a $1 million cap hit. There’s more of a danger of losing Pickard than Varlamov so that’s my line of thinking on this.

But it’s only a matter of time before we get clarity on all of this as the protection lists are due on June 17 and on June 21 we’ll find out who the Avs lose to Vegas. And then the 2017 Entry Level Draft goes down on June 23-24 where the Avs select 4th overall.

And is Matt Duchene finally dealt?

Going to be a fun, interesting, nerve-wracking couple of weeks in Avalanche land.

Top 10 Avalanche Prospects

As I did last year, I will run down the Colorado Avalanche’s 10 best prospects. It will be interesting to see, in contrast to last year, which prospects made a jump up the list and which prospects dropped down. Of course, last years list was done before the 2016 Entry Draft so there will be some new prospects on this list.

Last year’s 10 best Avalanche best prospects: 1) Mikko Rantanen 2) Chris Bigras 3) J.T. Compher 4) Jean-Christophe Beaudin 5) Nicholas Meloche 6) A.J. Greer 7) Mason Geertsen 8) Spencer Martin 9) Duncan Siemens 10) Sergei Boikov.

What’s considered a prospect by NHL standards? According to hockeysfuture.com, if a forward/defenseman has played in 65 NHL games or more before he’s 24 years old, the player is no longer a prospect. Conversely, if a forward/defenseman turns 24 before he plays 65 NHL games, he’s ALSO not a prospect anymore. For example, Mikko Rantanen will not be included on this list because even though he’s just 20 years old, Rantanen has played in 84 NHL games. Consider him graduated.

As for goaltenders, the exact same as noted above although it’s 45 games in place of 65 NHL games for forwards/defensemen.

So without further ado. The Avalanche’s 10 best prospects.

# 10) Will Butcher (D)

My list kicks off with the 5’10 190 pound defenseman Will Butcher, drafted by the Avs in the 5th round, 123rd overall in the 2013 Draft. This past year Butcher captained the Denver Pioneers all the way to a National Championship where Butcher was the recipient of the Hobey Baker Award (given to the top National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s ice hockey player). Butcher scored 7 goals and 37 points in 43 games for the Pios.

Butcher just missed my list last year and nearly didn’t make my list this year. Why? Well, it doesn’t seem Butcher will be an Avalanche prospect for very long. Butcher just finished his senior year in college which means if he doesn’t sign with the Avs he can become an unrestricted free agent on August 15. Will Butcher hasn’t been signed yet and all signs point to him becoming a free agent in August and signing with a different team. Things can change but it seems likely that Butcher will jump ship.

# 9) Cameron Morrison (LW)

The 6’3 215 pound power forward was taken in the 2nd round, 40th overall last year at the 2016 Entry Draft. Obviously a new comer to the list as he wasn’t yet drafted by the Avs when I did last year’s list.In his draft year, Morrison was the USHL’s Rookie of the Year where he scored 34 goals and 66 points in 60 games with the Youngstown Phantoms.

This year he played with for the University of Notre Dame where he was an integral part of helping Notre Dame reach the Frozen Four (where they were defeated by eventual champs, the University of Denver). In 40 games with Notre Dame, Morrison posted 12 goals and 24 points. He will be back with Notre Dame for his sophomore year.

It might be another 3-4 years at the minimum before we see him in an Avs uniform but the Avs might have a good one in Morrison. A prototypical power forward, Morrison uses his size to his advantage, has an active stick, is good on the boards and has good vision with some offensive upside. Is also a good skater and holds his own defensively.  Will need some work on his transition game according to eliteprospects.com.

# 8) Andrei Mironov (D)

Another newcomer to the list is the 6’2 198 pound Russian defender Andrei Mironov. Mironov was chosen in the 4th round, 101st overall in the 2015 overall as an over-ager. Mironov, who turns 23 in July, has spent the last five seasons playing for the Moscow Dynamo in the KHL. A one-time all-star in the KHL, Mironov is best known for his physical play with a highlight real of brutal hip checks and open ice hits.

Mironov definitely has some warts in his game as he’s prone to making stupid mistakes and needs some work on his puck skills. But he adds a dimension that the Avs have been missing from their blueline since Adam Foote retired – a mean nasty defenseman who makes you pay for playing in his zone (yes, Nikita Zadorov also adds this dimension as well). In 196 games in the KHL, Mironov has scored 12 goals and 40 points. The Avalanche recently signed him and he will fight for a roster spot in the fall.

# 7) J.C. Beaudin (C/RW)

He was on this list last season as I listed him as the Avalanche‘s fourth best prospect. A slight fall down the list but Jean-Christophe Beaudin is still seen as a very good prospect in the Avalanche system. Beaudin, a 6’2 190 pound forward was chosen in the 3rd round, 71st overall in the 2015 Draft.

Beaudin. a right shot center has seen some time playing on the right wing. Beaudin exploded in his draft plus one year where scored 33 goals and 82 points in 58 games. Unfortunately this past season his production dipped to 30 goals and 80 points in 65 games which is why he slid down this list this year. But on a positive note, Beaudin produced more points in less games in the playoffs this past season than the previous year.

Beaudin is a smart cerebral player who is effective in all three zones. A good back checker, Beaudin also possesses good speed and a pretty good slapshot. Projected as a third line center in the NHL, Beaudin will make his pro hockey debut in the fall with the San Antonio Rampage (Avalanche AHL affiliate) as he was signed to his ELC (Entry Level Contract) earlier this year.

# 6) A.J. Greer (LW)

He was #6 on this last year and he”s #6 on this list this year too. A.J. Greer was one of two 2nd round selections the Colorado Avalanche made at the 2015 Draft, drafting Greer 39th overall.

This past season was Greer‘s first year in pro hockey after signing his ELC in July of last year. Greer scored 15 goals and 38 points in 63 games for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. Greer started the year on a tear which helped him to be named to the AHL All-Star game. Greer‘s impressive start earned him a call up to the Colorado Avalanche where he suited up for his first five NHL games where he registered an assist. Unforunately, near the end of the year his production fell off a bit as did most of the Rampage roster.

But all in all, it was a very successful year for Greer and he may be in the plans for an opening night roster spot for the Avs come October. Greer, a 6’3 205 pound power forward is a tenacious forechecker who plays a pesky type of game. He’s physical and plays with a ton of speed. He’s a prototypical 3rd line forward in the NHL. Probably not a ton of offensive upside at the NHL level but can provide some secondary scoring.

# 5) Chris Bigras (D)

Last year I listed him as the Avalanche‘s second best prospect and best defensive prospect overall. Well, he’s slipped in both categories. Out of all the Avs‘ prospects, this might be the most disappointing of all.

The 6’1 190 pound two-way defenseman was selected in the 2nd round, 32nd overall in the 2013 Draft. In his final year in juniors, Bigras was second in scoring among d-men in the OHL with 20 goals and 71 points in 62 games for the Owen Sound Attack. In the 2015-16 season, Bigras split the campaign between the Rampage of the AHL and the Avalanche, playing in 31 games in the NHL and registering 3 points.

Unfortunately, he suffered his first concussion at the end of the campaign. And this is where it gets a bit dicey. This past season Bigras spent the whole year in the AHL with the Rampage where he was uneven and inconsistent. Many call it a lost year as he missed more than a month of hockey after he suffered another concussion. Bigras scored 5 goals and 19 points in 45 games with the Rampage this season.

It’s a bit worrisome this Bigras situation. He was seen as the Avs‘ best blue chip d-man prospect as many had him penciled him in a top four role. Hopefully he can turn the page on this year and put his development back on track. Good news, he’s still only 22. Bad news is he’s no longer considered a sure thing anymore.

# 4) Spencer Martin (G)

The Avalanche‘s top goalie prospect was #8 on my list last year. The 6’3 210 pound goaltender was taken in the 3rd round, 63rd overall in the 2013 Draft. Some may believe Spencer Martin at #4 might be a too high as statistically speaking he didn’t have a great year in pro hockey that featured a brief stint for the Avs but the majority of the year in San Antonio.

With San Antonio this year, Martin posted a 19-26-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against-average (GAA) and a .904 save percentage (S%). With the Avs, he posted a 0-2-1 record with a 4.35 GAA and a .865 S%. Yeah those numbers don’t look very good.

However, Martin had a strong start with the Rampage that earned him a spot in the AHL All-Star game. Also, Rampage were decimated with injuries and Avs made some call-ups which hurt the team. And it showed with the team’s performance the last couple of months of the season. Rampage were a bottom feeder in the AHL so with that in mind, Martin’s numbers aren’t all that terrible. His numbers in the NHL were awful but the team in front of him were the Avalanche, who were the worst team in the NHL in 17 years.

Martin is still a very good prospect but he still needs a lot more development time in the AHL before he’s ready for the NHL full-time. Probably needs another two seasons in the AHL. Nonetheless, he’s still the Avs’ best goalie prospect.

# 3) J.T. Compher (C)

He was also #3 on my list last year and is the only prospect on this list that was not drafted by the Colorado Avalanche. Compher was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2nd round, 35th overall in the 2013 Draft. Compher was one of the pieces the Avs received in the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo in 2015.

A 5’11 195 pound center, Compher was a star at the University of Michigan where he captained the Wolverines before signing his ELC with the Avalanche last season. In his first season in pro hockey, Compher started the year in San Antonio before being permanently re-called by the Avs. With the Rampage, Compher formed instant chemistry with A.J. Greer and Rocco Grimaldi and he scored 13 goals and 30 points in 41 games.

With the Avs, Compher notched 3 goals and 5 points in 21 games. Although 5 points in 21 games isn’t something to get overly excited about, a guy playing his first NHL games needed time to adjust. And considering that he was thrown on the league’s worst team it really isn’t that terrible. But if you just look at his game (never mind the stats for now), it’s very clear Compher is a player.

Compher is a very cerebral player who is defensively responsible and has a high hockey IQ. He also is a fierce competitor and plays with a bit of grit and tenacity. Although he may not have a high offensive upside, Compher looks to be the Avs’ 3rd line center for a very long time to come.

# 2) Nicholas Meloche (D)

He was #5 on my list last year and now he makes the jump to #2. The Avalanche‘s best defensive prospect was drafted in the 2nd round, 40th overall in the 2015 Draft. A 6’3, 205 pound right shot defenseman, Meloche signed his ELC with the Avs earlier this year.

This past season, his final season in juniors, saw him split time between the Gatineau Olympiques and the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL. Statistically, Meloche had his best year in scoring 16 goals and 47 points in 61 games while adding additional 3 goals and 7 points in 13 playoff games. His previous point totals (starting in 2013-14) were 25, 34, and 33.

Meloche is a smooth skating, two-way defenseman. He’s very sound defensively and plays with a bit of an edge. He also has a great hockey sense and sees the ice very well. Although he isn’t flashy he can provide some offensive punch. It’s unclear if his offense can translate in the NHL though but it’s possible.

Meloche will jump into pro hockey next season with the San Antonio Rampage. He’ll most likely need two to three years at the minimum before he’s NHL ready. Projected as a 2nd pairing d-man at the NHL level, 3rd pair at the minimum.

# 1) Tyson Jost (C)

The Avalanche‘s top prospect was the team’s first round selection at last year’s draft, making Jost the 10th overall pick. In his draft year, Jost played with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL where he annihilated his competition, scoring 42 goals and 104 points in 48 games.

Jost went on to join the University of North Dakota this past fall where he enjoyed a successful freshman campaign scoring 16 goals and 35 points in 33 games. After failing to win a National Championship with NoDak, Jost signed his ELC with the Avalanche. As there was only 6 games left in the Avs’ season at the time of the signing (playing 10 games would burn a year off his 3 year ELC), Jost managed to get his first taste of NHL action. In his first 6 NHL games, Tyson Jost managed to score his first career NHL goal against hated rivals Minnesota Wild.

A 5’11 195 pound centerman, Jost is a crafty two-way forward who is effective in all three zones. A cerebral hockey player with high hockey IQ, Jost thinks and plays at a high tempo. Jost has great hands and can make plays in tight areas. For a guy his size, he’s not afraid of the dirty areas and shows a lot of determination in winning puck battles. Jost will need to add some muscle to his frame in order to be a consistent NHL contributor. Jost will be on the Avalanche‘s opening night roster in the fall. He is the Avalanche‘s second line center and will most likely be that for many years to come.

Prospects just missing the list: Anton Lindholm (D), Sergei Boikov (D), Julien Nantel (LW), Mason Geertsen (D).

Avs Sign Mironov, Changes To Coaching Staff

Avs Ink Mironov

After weeks (if not months) of news circulating that he would be signing with the Avs, on May 11 it was officially announced that the Colorado Avalanche have signed Andrei Mironov to a two year entry level contract.

Mironov, 22, was the Avalanche‘s 4th round pick in 2015. It was speculated weeks ago that Mironov was on the verge of signing with the Avs. The hold up? Mironov was still under contract with the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo (and with another year left on his deal) and needed to be released from his contract before signing with Colorado.

The 6’2, 195 lb wrecking machine spent the last 5 seasons with KHL’s Moscow Dynamo where he was a one time KHL all-star. In his tenure in the KHL, Mironov totaled 12 goals and 40 points.

Changes To The Coaching Staff

On May 23, the Colorado Avalanche announced that assistant coaches Tim Army, Dave Farrish and goaltending coach Francois Allaire would not be back next season.

Tim Army has spent the last 6 seasons behind the bench for the Avs where served under 3 different regimes: Joe Sacco, Patrick Roy, and current head coach Jared Bednar. Tim Army main responsibility was the powerplay where the Avs finished last place this season.

Dave Farrish a veteran coach for many many years was in his second season with the Avs and was hired by Patrick Roy. Farrish was effectively replaced by Nolan Pratt (who remains as an assistant coach) this past season and was seen in the press box rather than on the bench.

Francois Allaire was in his fourth season as the Avs‘ goalie coach and was hired by his former pupil Patrick Roy for the 2013-14 season. With Roy now long gone it was expected that he would not return for next season as his contract was expiring. Allaire, a well respected goalie coach, was famously Patrick Roy’s goalie coach in Montreal. He also spent time in Anaheim and Toronto.

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic stated that he would not comment on the departures until new replacements were hired.

Minnesota Wild beat writer Mike Russo wrote that former Wild and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson has interviewed for the position of Avalanche goaltending coach.