Joe Sakic shocked the hockey world Wednesday by announcing that the team was leaning toward picking one of three forwards with the first pick instead of Seth Jones. Some find it puzzling that Sakic would announce something of this magnitude, and for those who have followed the Avs in the past this is completely against the behind closed doors attitude that we have come to be use to under Pierre Lacroix. I believe Sakic made this announcement for a couple reasons, for one he wanted to kickstart the trade talks and the asking price is HIGH and the second is he wanted to prepare Avs fans that there is a strong possibility the team picks a forward instead of the kid they expected from the moment the draft lottery was won. A trade is still possible but at the asking price that has been established it seems fairly unlikely, Calgary is said to have already offered the Avs their three first round picks (6th, 22nd, 28th) for the first overall selection and in this deep of a draft those three picks could be used to add a ton of depth. Sakic doesn’t want to drop out of the top three possibly four but is willing to trade down if the right deal presents itself, which tells me that Aleksander Barkov is very high on his list because he should be able to get him with any of the top 4 picks. If the Avs keep the first pick I think MacKinnon will be it, but if the Avs trade down a few picks the target will be Barkov. Drouin is a very skilled player but we have a lot of playmakers on our team what we need is either more size up front or a truly elite shot, and both Barkov and MacKinnon fill those needs more than Drouin.
Now with drafting Barkov or MacKinnon the Avs will need to move one of the centers, and for that I think Stastny is the man. I have lived in Denver all my life so it will not be easy to see Stastny go even with the last few years, which have been rough. But he will still always be the face of the DU National Championship team, has scored 79 points in an NHL season, and is coming off of a great World Championship in which he was captain of team USA. As for trade targets I like to look at the best case scenarios (probably too high but who knows anything could happen) and the team's biggest need will be a proven veteran defensemen. The high end target that I feel fits the best is Dion Phaneuf, who has been said to be on the Toronto trading block. Phaneuf is a very solid two-way defensemen and perhaps most importantly is a left-handed shot who I feel would pair up with Johnson very well. The good thing is Toronto could definitely use a good veteran top-6 center, they made the playoffs this year and Stastny could definitely help them get back for years to come. I’m sure more will have to go into the deal in order to get it done particularly on the Avs side, but this is a trade that strengthens both teams and fills needs on both as well. Also don’t forget front office boss Joe Sakic personally played against Phaneuf for a few years when he was with Calgary and he has seen what he can bring to a team, especially one starving for defense. The Avs have also seemed to have a pretty good trading relationship with the Maple Leafs the past few years too, although not as high profile trades as this would be. rn