A Victim of Circumstances: Salei's Days Numbered with Avalanche

James CriderCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2010

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 30: Ruslan Salei of Belarus in action during the IIHF World Championship match between Belarus and Norway at the Arena Zurich-Kloten on April 30, 2009 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

With the NHL's trade deadline looming, the Avalanche will likely look to move one of the eight defensemen currently on the roster.

Logic says Salei is the odd man out.

The Avalanche acquired Salei at the 2008 NHL trade deadline, and he exceeded expectations, particularly in the offensive zone where he registered five points in 10 playoff games. In the 2008-2009 NHL season, Salei had a quietly good year, scoring 21 points in 70 games. His minus-four rating is notable given the next lowest rating of defensemen who played 70-plus games was Brett Clark's minus-16.

Due to an back injury, Salei has participated in only two of the Avalanche's 61 games this season. Colorado's last game before the Olympic break, a 2-0 loss to the LA Kings, was Salei's first game since October. The Avalanche team fell flat on it's face, but Salei logged over 19 minutes of ice time, and had a team-high five shots.

Currently captaining Belarus's squad at the 2010 Winter Olympics—a team not expected to medal—it's likely Salei's performance will do nothing more than gauge his value on the trade market.

At 35-years old, plus the fact that he's a free agent this summer, the list of teams who may be interested in his services are limited to teams in the playoff hunt. Teams who may be looking to add defensive depth at the trade deadline include Ottawa, Anaheim, Buffalo, and Phoenix.

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