Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is perhaps the most sought after interview in the league these days, as rumors swirls about his two star forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene. It seems like half the league has been in contact with Sakic, who confirmed to Terry Frei of the Denver Post that he has been getting calls on the pair. Sakic disputes though that they’re on the block, saying that “I’m not going to make a deal just to make a deal,” and that he’s not the one spreading the rumors.
Sakic later says that he knows “we still have to get younger” and that “we’re going to free up some cap room and try and keep building up the younger guys.” While this makes sense for any rebuilding team, it’s interesting that Duchene and Landeskog would not be included in that youth movement. Landeskog is only 24, and currently the team captain, while Duchene is 26 and a former 30-goal scorer. Most teams would kill for their core to be that young and talented. In fact, Frei reports that when Sakic was speaking about the untouchables on the team, he only mentioned Nathan MacKinnon (21), Mikko Rantanen (20) and Tyson Jost (18).
The team only has a handful of older players, and even fewer that play important minutes for them. The idea of getting younger is always a good one—especially in an NHL that is continually shifting towards speed and skill—but not always possible. The second part of the statement is one that holds more weight, that they are looking to clear out cap room. If they are looking to get younger, it’s not clear who they would need that cap room for. The team has a handful of contracts coming off the books next season, and only a couple of important RFAs to sign. Perhaps it’s just a commentary on the contracts of Duchene, Landeskog and even Tyson Barrie who are all not performing to their standards.
If Sakic is truly looking to move age and money out, Jarome Iginla, Francois Beauchemin and Carl Soderberg are all on the wrong side of 30 and carry hefty cap hits (for at least the rest of this season). Perhaps those are the names he’d be floating if he had the choice.
For now, Avalanche fans should expect more of the same at the bottom of the NHL standings. “Getting younger” usually doesn’t result in immediate upgrades to the big-league roster (Toronto Maple Leafs be damned).