03 February 2011
Are the Avs committed to a full rebuild, or does Avs brass feel the sirens song of the NHL playoffs?
The Avs need a big solid defender if they are going to do anything in the playoffs this season, because the current defensive corps is in over their heads. Liles and O'Byrne are a solid 2nd pairing, but are getting killed in a 1st pairing role. Foote is no longer a top-4 defender. Cumiskey, Hunwick, and Wilson all have their problems. Shattenkirk will be really good, but he is still a rookie. Quincey is done for the season. And Sacco will not play Holøs.
So the Avs would need to trade for a big solid defender. However, Avs brass spent the offseason justifying inaction in free agency by telling fans we are in a rebuild, and that we will take our time with it. Doing it the right way and not getting ahead of ourselves. Whether this was a cover for saving money or a sincere belief (or a little of both as I believe) is up for debate, but there’s no debating that a Paul Martin or Anton Volchenkov would make our defense loads better right now. Giving away prospects (like a Stephan Elliot) and/or draft picks for a guy like Rehger undermines the message they’ve sold to the fans for two seasons now. More importantly it undermines all the moves they have done the last two seasons.
The biggest mistake the Avs can make is to try and have their cake and eat it too. Up until now the Avs success has been an added benefit. The winning was very nice, but it was nice because there was no sacrificing anything with the rebuild. Now those two roads may just end up diverging. One example of the connundrum is the Avs face is the status of their best healthy defender, John Michael Liles. He’s a UFA at season’s end. (Made a mistake here. Liles isn't a UFA until the end of next season. Mea Culpa. Still think the idea holds true. h/t to Beachie) He would almost certainly fetch a healthy return at the deadline, but losing him would also be a crushing blow to the Avs playoff chances this season. The long term loss would be minimal due to the likely rise of guys like Shattenkirk, Elliot and one of the other 900 or so offensive minded defensmen in the Avs system who are a year or two away.
The Avs have a choice, and making the right one may be difficult.
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