Avalanche Shake-Up Roster at Deadline, But Questions Linger

James CriderCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2010

ST. LOUIS - MAY 18:  Stephane Yelle #26 of the Colorado Avalanche is congratulated by Ray Bourque #77 after Yelle scored the winning overtime goal against the St. Louis Blues in Game four of Western Conference Finals during the 2001 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 18, 2001 at Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Avalanche won 4-3.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images/NHLI)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The dust has settled and the 2010 NHL trade deadline has passed.

In a year where players like Ray Whitney, Dan Hamhuis, and Thomas Vokoun were rumored to have been dealt, the biggest named shipped out today was arguably Colorado's Wojtek Wolski, who was sent to Phoenix in exchange for forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter.

And, in a last minute deal, the Avalanche acquired former player Stephane Yelle from the Carolina Hurricanes, along with forward Harrison Reed, in exchange for a sixth round draft pick and forward Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll.

Going into the deadline, there were clear short-term and long-term needs. The short term needs included adding another top six forward, preferably a left wing, and solving the log jam on defense; the long term need was finding a number one defenseman.

None of these needs were met.

Colorado did acquire another top six forward—Mueller—but also lost one in Wolski, who's clearly having a better season. In addition, this trade further kills any kind of depth the Avalanche have at left wing, with the only remaining players at the position being Cody McLeod, David Koci, Chris Durno, Ryan Stoa, and T.J. Galiardi—who started the year as a center.

More problematic is the fact that not a single defenseman was traded away. Counting the disgruntled Tom Preissing who's currently playing in the AHL, the Avalanche have nine defensemen who have either played over 40 games or make a salary of over $2 million.

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Short term implications aside, this day will be remembered in one of two ways: either as the day the Avalanche acquired Peter Mueller, or the day they traded Wojtek Wolski away.

As frustrating as Wolski is to watch at times, he's only 23 years old and was having a career year with 47 points in 61 games (62 point pace). Not only did the trade come completely out of the blue, but the return of Peter Mueller is very questionable.

Mueller, 21, has alot of potential, maybe even more so than Wolski, and did have an excellent rookie year a few seasons ago in which he scored 54 points, but currently is having about as grungy of a season as anyone this year, with only four goals in 54 games.

Acquisitions like that of 35 year old Stephane Yelle suggest Avalanche GM Greg Sherman intends on this team making the playoffs, but replacing Colorado's second leading scorer with a player who's ice cold will make a playoff birth an uphill battle.

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