After taking a long look at the free agency action throughout each NHL division in the past few features, there was an NBC Sports story that piqued my interest. In the article, Adam Gretz, outlines what he feels are the top 23 power trades in this nutty year of 2020.
Instead of looking at each individual trade, I wanted to explore which NHL teams have made the best collection of acquisitions. Two teams that have made adjustments that immediately improve the make-up of there team heading into the next season are the Colorado Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens.
During parts of the 19/20 season I really started to question what NHL team could beat the Colorado Avalanche in a seven-game series. With the Avalanche down to their 3rd goalie, the Dallas Stars finally managed to oust Colorado in the 2020 Western Conference Final. Needless, to say the Avalanche are a well-built club, but have they gotten better since? Unfortunately for the Western Conference, yes.
The Avalanche did not add any major names, but they did acquire (without giving up much) two players that will further strengthen the forward and defensive units.
While his offensive totals have slipped the past few seasons, at 27, Brandon Saad likely still has more to offer an NHL team. Having already won two Stanley Cups the speedy winger becomes even more valuable to a contending team like Colorado. Saad has been questioned over his defensive play, but he is still a player that can fetch 40/50 points in a depth role. The Avs now have plenty of depth up front. The Avs had to depart with rugged depth defenseman in Nikita Zadorov to acquire Saad, but they also addressed the loss on the back end as well.
By shipping out Zadorov, the Avs turned that loss into an upgrade by landing Devon Toews from the New York Islanders. Toews had somewhat of a breakout post-season as he had a noticeable impact for the Islanders during the Eastern Conference final run. At 26, Toews rounds out an extremely well balanced Avs defensive unit with a plethora of tantalizing pairing options.
The Habs have been busy and they will undoubtedly be a better team when the next NHL season opens. First, the Canadiens added a rugged defender that can eat minutes, protect the house (front net), and kill penalties with Joel Edmundson. Yes, Edmundson comes with an average skill set, but his physical presence should inherently lighten the toll on an aging Shea Weber. In Edmundson’s case, I think it is the type of player that the Canadiens were looking to acquire.
Montreal also addressed their scoring prowess with 2014 Stanley Cup winner Tyler Toffoli – a player that seems productive in any environment you place him in.
Writing this small article, I could not help but ask when was the last time the Canadiens had a true power forward? Does Pacioretty count or further back? Either way it has been a while, but the Canadiens acquired a bit of an old school power forward in Josh Anderson. Anderson has had his fair share of injury setbacks, but he is still only 26 which means there is a ton of upside in Montreal when health – something the Habs seemed to have been missing in recent years.
Perhaps most importantly, the Canadiens went out and got Carey Price a stable back-up in Jake Allen. Being able to confidently manage Price’s workload will become increasingly important during the latter half of his career. By confidently manage, I mean lighten the load but also feel good about when the alternative starts a game. The Canadiens had a bit of a back-up carousel going last season with Keith Kinkaid and Cayden Primeau and Charlie Lindgren. Allen should help stabilize the situation in the crease.
Great adds for both Colorado and Montreal.
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