DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Avalanche received an offensive boost by picking up forward Shawn Matthias in a trade with Toronto on Sunday.
The Maple Leafs received forward Colin Smith and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft. The 6-foot-4, 231-pound Matthias won’t be with Colorado when the team plays Sunday night in Vancouver.
But he will add depth down the stretch as the Avalanche push for a playoff spot. Matthias joins a formidable front line that includes scorers such as Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Carl Soderberg, Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla.
The 28-year-old Matthias had six goals and 11 assists in 51 games with Toronto this season.
“An exceptional pro. He comes to work every day. He leaves everything on the ice. He’s committed,” Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said on a conference call. “I think he’s going to be a decided asset to the role that Colorado is asking him to play.”
Just the other day, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said the trade market was a tad bit slow to heat up because there are so many teams still in playoff contention.
He was adamant on one point, though: “I’m not trading high picks and some of our top prospects for rental players. … We’re not going to move first- or second-round picks for rental players,” he said last week.
And while Matthias is considered a rental player – he’s a free agent after the season – the Avalanche also really didn’t give up a high pick for him, either.
They did include Smith in the deal. He was a seventh-round selection by Colorado in the 2012 draft. The Maple Leafs will assign Smith to the minors.
The Avalanche may not be done wheeling and dealing before the trade deadline on Feb. 29. The team will have a surplus of goaltenders once Reto Berra recovers from an ankle injury.
He’s with San Antonio of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment. With Semyon Varlamov entrenched as the starter and Calvin Pickard playing well in a backup role, that makes for a logjam at the spot.
“We’ll see how that plays out,” Sakic said.
Lamoriello said the timing of the trade made sense for the Maple Leafs, who are in last place in the Eastern Conference.
“There was a need for a certain type of player with a certain team and we had been communicating and you make that decision,” Lamoriello said.
“There’s never a right time or a wrong time. It’s really what the window allows at that time. The return we got, we feel with the direction we’re going and at this time it’s the right decision.”
– By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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