DENVER (AP) – Joe Sakic’s team languishes in last place. His players, though, remain first-rate.
That’s the feeling of the Colorado Avalanche general manager and why he didn’t make any major moves at the trade deadline Wednesday except dealing Jarome Iginla to Los Angeles for possibly one last playoff push.
After all the trade rumors, captain Gabriel Landeskog and forward Matt Duchene remain with the Avalanche – for now, anyway. The offseason may bring a different tune.
“I don’t have to make any major moves,” said Sakic, whose team is 17-41-3 with 37 points and the worst home record in hockey. “I like my players. I’ve always stated if there’s something that’s going to help our organization long-term, that’s something we’ll look to do.”
Sakic and the Avalanche didn’t completely sit on the sidelines as they sent Andreas Martinsen to Montreal for Sven Andrighetto, a 23-year-old forward who scored two goals in 27 games with the Canadiens.
But the team’s biggest move was intended to help someone win elsewhere: Sakic accommodated Iginla by sending the 39-year-old forward to the Kings for what may be his final chance at a Stanley Cup title. In exchange, the Avalanche received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018.
“It’s a respect thing,” Sakic said. “Him as a person, him as a hockey player – a Hall of Fame hockey player for his career. We wanted to give him an opportunity to get to a great place, where he wanted to go.”
With the Avalanche buried in the standings, the trade rumors frequently swirled around Landeskog and Duchene. Both were anxious to have this day come and go.
Asked if he was going to say anything to them, Sakic said: “I don’t really have to tell them anything, to be honest with you. They’re my players and they have been the whole time.
“I’m sure I’m going to have conversations with both of them,” Sakic added. “It’s the business. I’m not the one who’s out there throwing names around. I don’t do that. I keep discussions internal.”
They can exhale for the moment. The days leading up to the NHL draft could bring a fresh wave of rumors, though.
“There are no guarantees on any trades,” Sakic said. “We’re going to do what’s best for our organization long-term. We want to get younger, that’s what we’re looking to do this offseason. We free up some cap space and we’re going to try to keep getting younger and faster.”
These days, about the only untouchables on the roster appear to be speedster Nathan MacKinnon and right wing Mikko Rantanen. The Avalanche figure to bring up some of their youngsters over the remainder of the season, starting with left wing J.T. Compher, who’s expected to join the team in Ottawa for their game Thursday. Compher was acquired in the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo in June 2015.
Defenseman Duncan Siemens – the 11th overall pick in 2011 – could also get a look.
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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