On Monday’s trade deadline, the Colorado Avalanche paid a high price for forward Artturi Lehkonen from the Montreal Canadiens. They handed the Canadiens a second-round pick in 2024 and a first-round pick in 2020 for defenseman Justin Barron.
The deal was likely facilitated by Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, who hoped that Lehkonen would be able to assist the team in preparing for the playoffs and finding synergy on his new squad as the Avalanche battle for a playoff spot. Despite these expectations, it’s uncertain when Lehkonen, who is healthy, will make his Avalanche debut.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar indicated today in his media availability that the process of obtaining a visa for Lehkonen to play for the Avalanche is still underway, and that until it is finished, he may only practise with the team and not play in their games. According to Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater, Lehkonen’s immigration paperwork is still pending “as of this moment.”
While this development is unlikely to have a significant impact on the Avalanche’s playoff chances (they have a 100 percent probability of making the playoffs, according to MoneyPuck.com), it does imply that the process of integrating Lehkonen into the lineup could be put on hold until further notice. Lehkonen’s versatility was one of the reasons he was such a valuable trade commodity for the Avalanche.
In Montreal, he was used to playing in a variety of circumstances and on a variety of lines, and it’s with that adaptability that Lehkonen may have a significant influence on the Avalanche roster. However, given the team’s current situation with Lehkonen’s immigration procedures, finding the ideal match for their prized acquisition before the playoffs begins may be more difficult.
Ryan Murray Will be Sidelined Indefinitely
The Colorado Avalanche signed Josh Manson before the deadline, but they were unable to add any more defensive players yesterday. Unfortunately, one of their regulars went down just a few hours later and is now out indefinitely. According to Peter Baugh of The Athletic, Ryan Murray, who blocked a shot just 31 seconds into his first shift, will be sidelined “weeks, not days.” Head coach Jared Bednar acknowledged it was a fracture but did not specify whether it was a hand or arm injury.
Last night, the Avalanche had seven defenseman on the ice, one of them was Kurtis MacDermid, a hybrid who generally lines up at forward when the full group is healthy. Cale Makar played over 30 minutes and Devon Toews racked up 27:38–the only two defensemen to even breach the 20-minute mark–in Murray’s absence, and with Manson still getting used to the squad.
While the Avalanche have a lot of defence depth, Samuel Girard is still out with an injury, and Bowen Byram’s concussion troubles are also a question mark. The youthful Byram is back on the ice with the Avalanche–in a regular uniform, no less–but it’s unclear when he’ll return to the lineup.
In the Artturi Lehkonen trade, Justin Barron, who has appeared in two games for the team this season, was sent to the Montreal Canadiens.
Murray, 28, has struggled with injuries throughout his career, only completing a full season once. He only scored four points in 37 appearances this season, but he was still a valuable depth component for a club trying to make a deep playoff run. With Murray out for the foreseeable future, it will be fascinating to watch if he loses his spot in the lineup as Colorado adjusts to a new defensive unit.
More Former Avalanche Players Are Among The Colorado Avalanche’s Trade Deadline Targets
The next NHL trade deadline is a time for big names and big rumours, but the Colorado Avalanche prefer to make quiet transactions at that time and conserve their assets for bigger purchases later in the summer. Maybe they’ll get caught up in the Claude Giroux fever and win the bidding war, but if not, this season’s trade deadline might end up looking like the one in 2021. The truth is that the franchise is perfectly content to bring back former Avalanche players for another playoff run.
When they went after Carl Soderberg and Patrik Nemeth, the organisation had the right concept in going with people who were familiar with their teammates, coaching staff, system, and facilities. However, they did not aim high enough in quality to receive a good return on their investment. Perhaps a better fit or two can yet be discovered on the market, allowing the Avalanche to return to the lineup.
It’s no secret that Donskoi has struggled with the Seattle Kraken, and his two goals this season aren’t exactly what they had in mind when he was taken in the expansion draught from the Colorado Avalanche. With another year at $3.9 million left on his contract, Seattle is likely to sell Donskoi in exchange for draught picks and prospects that they were unable to obtain with their expansion picks.
As Stastny’s career winds down, it’s always seemed likely that he’d make one final visit in Colorado before retiring. Despite the fact that Stastny has never played under Jared Bednar, he is quite familiar with Erik Johnson, Gabe Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon, as well as the organisation, having spent the first eight years of his career in Colorado.
Stastny, who is now 36 years old, is still a capable player who has had a productive season with the Winnipeg Jets, scoring 27 points in 44 games. As the Jets slip further out of the Western Conference playoff picture, it’s possible that they’ll attempt to offload some veterans and reclaim some of their draught picks.
It’s easy to imagine Stastny fitting in with the Avalanche as a depth centre capable of assisting on the power play and penalty kill. His current 57 percent faceoff success percentage might make him a valuable addition to the bottom six as well. The $3.75 million salary of Stastny is a little stumbling block, but the return of another depth player or salary retention could make the trade work.