The Colorado Avalanche are one of this year’s best stories, coming back from a historically bad season in 2016-17 to be a potential buyer at the upcoming trade deadline. The team sits five points behind the Minnesota Wild for the last playoff spot, but does have a game in hand. Today, that playoff chase took a big hit when the team announced that both Erik Johnson and Anton Lindholm would be out indefinitely due to injury. In their place, the Avalanche have recalled David Warsofsky and Andrei Mironov from the AHL, pushing their depth to the limit.
Whatever you think of Johnson’s value versus his long-term contract, his impact on the Avalanche is immense. Logging more than 25 minutes a night, the 29-year old sits fifth in league average time on ice and plays in all situations for Colorado. While Tyson Barrie has a bigger impact offensively, Johnson is the glue that holds the entire blue line together and his presence will be sorely missed.
The team now has to weigh their options, and decide whether adding another defenseman is worth the price. Making the playoffs would be a huge accomplishment for the young team, especially after trading Matt Duchene earlier in the year, but there are some impact prospects on the way and this team is nicely set up for future success. Selling off some assets wouldn’t cripple that future, but there’s no guarantee it results in a playoff run this year.