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Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a playoff run that saw them eliminated in Game 7 by the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avs were very impressive as they knocked off the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season in the Calgary Flames in five games. With a team that experienced this kind of success, what players could the Devils possibly go after?
Well, the Avalanche are in a pretty interesting position as they have the third most available cap space and have a good amount of players entering restricted and unrestricted free agency. With that said, there are still some players that Devils general manager Ray Shero may casually inquire about with Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic to see if they are available via
Nieto is a winger who started his career with the San Jose Sharks before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche. The former second-round pick has only generated near 20 points each season of his career so far. Nieto had a nice flash these playoffs, which could generate interest, and he could fit nicely as a bottom-six forward for the Devils. He only has one year remaining on his contract after this season, and the price for him would not likely be too high. The
O’Connor is a prospect currently in the Avalanche’s minor league system. He was signed as an undrafted free agent and currently is a right winger playing in the AHL for the Avalanche’s affiliate team, the Colorado Eagles. He played three seasons at the University of Denver and finished this season in the AHL with 19 goals and 23 assists with a -1 in 64 games played.
O’Connor could be a prospect worth trading to see if he pays off as he seemed to have a promising season in the AHL. Again, though, as is a common theme with how I feel about the Devils’ situation, they do not need to low ball but need to find a way to not give up too much as bringing in talent is important. But the most successful and stable teams are built through great drafting and young talent, so if the Devils could only give up a later round pick or maybe a prospect, that would be ideal.
Meloche is a defenseman playing in the AHL for the Avalanche. He was a second-round pick drafted 40th overall in 2015. Whether the Avs are willing to move him or not depends on what a team such as the Devils would be willing to offer. Looking at their situation on the back end right now, they have Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Ian Cole, Mark Barberio, Cale Makar, and Samuel Girard under contract for next season, with Patrik Nemeth set for unrestricted free agency, and Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Graves becoming restricted free agents.
Looking at this, there is a possibility of a log jam on the back end which is a great problem to have. Not to mention that the Avalanche will more than likely be in a great position to draft the best defenseman in the draft, Bowen Byram, with the fourth-overall pick, assuming Chicago does not take him third overall and elects to go with a forward. The Devils could show some interest in Meloche and should at least kick the tires and see what the position is on him from the Avalanche. He finished the season with the Colorado Eagles, posting 6 goals and 15 assists with a -3 through 55 games played. Again, this a player that may be worth the Devils’ attention but not for the wrong price.
The Avalanche are a team that could definitely be a trade partner with Devils, but fans should not expect to see any NHL players involved on the Avs’ side coming to New Jersey in a potential trade. The Avalanche have a good amount of players heading into restricted and unrestricted free agency, and their core is most definitely going to be set for some time as they proved just how dangerous a team they can be when their squad is firing on all cylinders.
Fans should not expect Sakic to move any of his key pieces that he himself has done a masterful job of constructing, not without a king’s ransom in return. Expect any potential deal between the Devils and the Avalanche to involve either young prospects or bottom-six forwards. Who do you think the Devils should go after though? Let us know and get a discussion going with other perspectives or if you agree with some players mentioned above being potential trade targets for the Devils.