Big Trades Not Likely for Colorado Avalanche

James CriderCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2010

DENVER - NOVEMBER 25:  Marek Svatos #40 of the Colorado Avalanche skates during the game against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center on November 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With the NHL's trade deadline rapidly approaching, it's unlikely the Avalanche make any earth-shattering changes to their roster. The Avs roster is by no means perfect, but the holes are not gaping enough that a playoff berth is in danger because of them.

However, there are a handful of veterans Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman may try to pawn off.

First on the list is Marek Svatos . A 30-goal scorer once upon a time, the Avalanche held onto Svatos far too long and his value has since withered.

Only playing in 43 of Colorado's 61 games this season, Svatos has only recorded 10 points, and has been a healthy scratch on numerous occasions.

The only teams likely to have any interest would be teams with limited assets looking for an inexpensive scoring option, or another team looking to rid themselves of a has-been.

Pittsburgh, who's had trouble finding scoring wingers to play with captain Sidney Crosby, might take a chance on Svatos.

Next on the list is defenseman Ruslan Salei . In the final year of a contract he signed with Florida, Salei has missed all but three games this year due to back surgery.

Having played 50 career playoff games, including a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003, Salei could have value to a team like the New Jersey Devils, who are dealing with injuries on their blue line.

The final, and perhaps most valuable, trading chip the Avalanche have is defenseman John-Michael Liles . Considered one of the better-puck moving defensemen as recently as last season, Liles has struggled in the defensive zone and also in the goal-scoring department this season (four in 41 games).

The biggest problem with trading Liles is his hefty contract, which sees him being paid nearly $9 million the next two years. Seeing as he's been a healthy scratch numerous times this season, teams aren't exactly lining up with offers.

As far as players the Avalanche might be interested in, the list is likely short. Their biggest need is a No. 1 puck-moving defenseman, but acquiring one now would cause too much of a shake-up, so it'll likely they'll explore options this off-season.

A need in the short term is a top six left winger. The best options available are Ray Whitney of the Carolina Hurricanes and Alexei Ponikarovsky of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

However, the asking price of these players may be a little too rich for managements blood, but less sought after options exist, like Paul Kariya of the St. Louis Blues and Slava Kozlov of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Another short term area that may be addressed is a gritty winger with scoring touch, a job Darcy Tucker has failed to fill.

Raffi Torres of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colby Armstrong of the Atlanta Thrashers, both believed to be available, would fit nicely on a line with Ryan O'Reilly.

Past Deadlines for the Avalanche

2009: With the playoffs out of reach, the Avalanche traded defenseman Jordan Leopold to Calgary for a 2009 second round pick, and defensemen Ryan Wilson and Lawrence Nycholat.

2008: Gearing up for the playoffs, the Avalanche traded for defensemen Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei, and also signed former all-star Peter Forsberg.

2007: Sitting ninth in the Western Conference, the Avalanche were quiet; their only move of the day came when they traded Brad May to the Anaheim Ducks for AHL goaltender Michael Wall.

2006: Concerned with the spotty goaltending of David Aebischer, the Avalanche tried to double dip in Montreal by trading Aebischer for struggling star goaltender Jose Theodore.


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