Cup or bust for the Colorado Avalanche after trade deadline


(Graphic Illustration by Jake Dunaetz | The Collegian)

Jack Taylor, Sports Reporter

The NHL’s 2022 trade deadline was March 21, providing fans with the most exciting week of professional hockey besides the Stanley Cup Finals. With the Colorado Avalanche being the cup favorites for the second year in a row but being eliminated from the playoffs in the second round the past three seasons, fans are becoming frustrated with the Avs’ shortcomings.

To ensure the team and its fans can continue to enjoy hockey in May for the playoffs, Avs general manager Joe Sakic added depth to the roster. Head coach Jared Bednar now has four more weapons in his arsenal: Nico Sturm, Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Josh Manson. Only time will tell if these new skaters can push Colorado over the second-round hump, but for now, we can only speculate.


The Avalanche franchise has had its ups and downs in the recent past. The 2016-17 season for the Avs was their worst season ever, finishing with only 48 points. Fast forward to today, and the Avalanche are the reigning President’s Trophy winners — an award given to the team that finishes the regular season with the most points — with the very likely chance to defend their crown this season.

Franchises rarely climb from the bottom to the top in such a short time frame. Colorado’s recent success was not blind luck. The credit should be given to Sakic for consistently drafting top talent and finding the best value in the trade market. The popular Twitter motto “in Joe we trust” has substance to it and was proven accurate again after this season’s trade deadline.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, veteran defenseman Ryan Murray, young star defensemen Samuel Girard and prodigy defenseman Bowen Byram are currently on the injured reserve list. The Avalanche locker room is, unfortunately, becoming accustomed to having its star skaters injured. Many fans blame the fragile nature of the team for its recent playoff blunders.

“This trade will either be the reason the Stanley Cup comes to Ball Arena or the reason Avs fans want Sakic’s position as general manager reevaluated.”

Playoff hockey is different: Some argue the playoffs are an entirely different game. Injuries are to be expected. To make a deep run in the postseason, teams must have the depth to plug the holes. Colorado’s front office displayed they were gearing up for playoff hockey and adding depth to the injury-ridden roster.

The Avalanche acquired defenseman Manson from the Anaheim Ducks for Drew Helleson and a 2023 second-round draft pick. Avalanche fans should be ecstatic about this trade Manson is known for being a formidable two-way defenseman who isn’t scared to hand out body checks into the boards. Trading for Manson only cost the Avs a second-round draft pick and Helleson, who is a 21-year-old defenseman who needs a lot of work before making an NHL roster.

Tyson Jost was a fan-favorite skater for the Avalanche before he was traded to the Minnesota Wild. The quick and crafty center was drafted 10th overall in 2016. Jost had a high ceiling to reach; however, he has yet to produce early first-round statistics. With a career-high 30 points in the 2021-22 season, as sad as it is to trade away such a likable skater, Jost needed a change of scenery.

The Avalanche found Jost’s replacement in Sturm, a skater with the opposite skill set of Jost. Sturm joins the Avs roster in a one-for-one deal with Minnesota, a divisional rival. Sturm is a 6-foot, 3-inch, 209-pound center who commands respect in front of the net. As much as it hurts to see Jost traded away, Sturm brings physicality to the Avalanche locker room, which is a quality Jost didn’t offer.

The most controversial trade this season by the Avalanche was for Lehkonen. Lehkonen is a skilled left-winger who can shoot and pass with the best forwards; however, he desperately needed to leave the Montreal Canadiens, as the Canadiens are last in the league for points this season.

The Finnish skater was not cheap. The Avs front office traded away defenseman Justin Barron and a 2024 second round draft pick for Lehkonen. Barron was a first-round draft pick in the 2020 NHL draft and was considered by many hockey analysts to be an upcoming star. This trade defines the identity of the Avalanche coming into the postseason: The Avs want a cup and are willing to sell their future for one. Lehkonen is a great addition to the roster, and fans can expect to see him slotted into the second or third line. This trade will either be the reason the Stanley Cup comes to Ball Arena or the reason Avs fans want Sakic’s position as general manager reevaluated.


This season’s trade deadline makes the Avalanche playoff hopes certain; it’s cup or bust for the boys in burgundy and blue. With additions to the roster that can make an immediate impact, Sakic and Bednar are gearing up for an extended postseason push. This season could possibly be the first time since the 2000-01 season the Stanley Cup returns to Colorado and the Avalanche prove they deserve all the hype. Only time will tell if these trades are going to be enough to propel the Avs past the second round. Is this year the year?

Reach Jack Taylor at or on Twitter @J_taylr.