The Colorado Avalanche are struggling and the vultures are circling.
With the team in 30th place in the NHL, general managers are reportedly contacting Joe Sakic and the Avalanche with inquiries about how they plan to proceed with player personnel decisions.
“A lot of teams are calling saying, ‘What do you want to do?'” said Elliotte Friedman on Saturday’s Headlines segment. “And as you know, when teams are struggling, [other teams] don’t send you a life preserver, they send you an anvil. What Colorado has told people is, ‘Don’t ask us about Nathan MacKinnon and don’t ask us about Mikko Rantanen,’ who was their [first round] pick last year.”
Mackinnon was the first overall draft choice in 2013 while Rantanen was taken 10th overall in 2015. MacKinnon is currently on a seven-year deal with a $6.3-million cap hit that expires in 2023. Rantanen is in the middle of his entry-level deal and will be an RFA in 2019.
"Now, if you're asking about Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog, from what I understand, teams have been told they're not giving these guys because they're panicking," said Friedman. "If you want to come at [the Avalanche] with good, young defencemen or prospects, [they] are prepared to listen. But the packages are going to have to be big because they look at both [players] and see good players signed to good contracts."
Duchene is in the third year of a five-year deal that takes up just $6 million of Colorado's cap. Landeskog is also in the third year of a deal that comes in under Duchene's at $5.71 million per season. Both are affordable contracts given their age and ability.
Friedman's suggestion that the Avalanche would look for a defenceman in return for any core player seems to fit as, outside of Tyson Barrie, the team lacks skilled, puck-moving defenceman.