The first trade of the new regime came on Thursday night when the Avs traded RW David Jones and D Shane O’Brien for LW Alex Tanguay (!) and D Cory Sarich.
Jones was coming off a dreadful season, scoring a mere 3 goals in in 33 games, his lowest game per goal average since his rookie season. After signing a 4 year, 16 million extension during the 2012 off-season, Jones was in the middle of rumors being a prime candidate for a compliance buyout. After the Avalanche announced they would not be taking part in this year’s round, it became evident to me that Jones might be on the move.
Alex Tanguay coming back for Jones is a great move for the Avs. Tanguay brings experience and is a steady point producer, even if he has slowed down slightly in the past years. I still remember his Stanley Cup clinching goal to complete mission W16 in 2001, and with Hejduk possibly retiring, brings a much needed veteran leadership in a very young forward crop. Tanguay, one of the best playmakers in the league and a great shootout performer is a nice upgrade over Jones, a goal scorer who couldn’t score. Back to Hejduk quickly, the longer his announcement drags out, the more I believe he will return for one more season, especially will the new hole at RW with Jones’ departure. Should Hejduk re-sign for another season, the top 9 could be comprised of the following lines;
O’Reilly – Duchene – Parenteau
Landeskog – Stastny – Hejduk
Tanguay – MacKinnon – Downie
With the fourth line would likely be made of McLeod/Bordeleau – Mitchell – Palushaj, the forwards have a much better feel than those of last season.
As for O’Brien and Sarich, this was pretty much a depth trade. Both played only 28 of 48 games last year due to being a regular healthy scratch. Sarich also brings Stanley Cup experience, having won with the Tampa Bay squad of 2004. This trade brings more veteran leadership to the team and at the same time, sheds some salary, with Tanguay making $500K less than Jones for the same amount of years, and Sarich coming with the same $2 million price tag as O’Brien however, with 1 less year on the contract. The loss of O’Brien will help clear the logjam of #5-6 defenseman a year earlier, with now only Johnson, Hejda and Wilson being signed beyond next season. With up and comers Barrie, Elliott and Siemens, some extra room was needed and O’Brien’s diminutive role last season made him expendable to the new management.
In conclusion, this trades brings playoffs experience, mentors for the young up-and-comers of our team which was the fourth youngest in the league last season and provides some cap relief. I have to give the slight edge to the Avalanche on this trade, even if the Flames got the younger pieces.