With some injuries to its roster, the Colorado Avalanche wanted to add a little more depth to its lineup ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline for what the club hopes will be a long spring.
Forward Vladislav Namestnikov and goaltender Michael Hutchinson were the pieces that were added to the Avalanche family ahead of Monday's 1p.m. MT cutoff to make trades, with the idea that they will be able to help Colorado in the stretch run and beyond.
"We made the one trade for Namestnikov, which we really liked him for a couple years now and we think he will be a good fit for our team," said Avalanche executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic. "And, we were looking for a depth goalie to not only help us but possibly the [American Hockey League's Colorado] Eagles. We have had a lot of injuries in that position, so we feel depth-wise we addressed that need. We were looking to see what we can do to add, but we did a lot in the offseason and this is a team we really like and believe in anyways. If there was another deal that made sense for us, we would have looked to do that, but nothing else materialized."
Sakic said he wanted to make moves that will help this group be a contender to win the Stanley Cup for not only this year, but for many seasons to come.
Video: Avalanche GM Joe Sakic after 2020 Trade Deadline
"You have to look at short term, long term. You want to be successful and you want to maintain that success," Sakic said. "We knew what we were looking to do and knew the type of players and which players we thought could help this team and this room. With saying that, we love the guys we have in this room as well. We are as deep as we have been in a long time, and we are content with this group. They believe and we believe in them."
Netminder Philipp Grubauer suffered a lower-body injury against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 15 and a timetable for his return has yet to be set, but Pavel Francouz has been reliable between the pipes since then. Francouz has gone 3-0-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .941 save percentage, including posting his first career NHL shutout, in the games he has started since Grubauer's injury.
The Avalanche has had four different goaltenders win a game in 2019-20, only the second Colorado team to feature that many netminders with a victory in a single season (also 2005-06). Antoine Bibeau and Adam Werner also picked up wins while both Grubauer and Francouz were injured in November.
"What we were looking to do in that position, we know Grubauer is going to be back for us and Pavel, he's played great for us, but we wanted to get some insurance for the third goalie position and we feel [Hutchinson] is going to do a great job for us," said Sakic. "For the Eagles, Bibeau is out for the year. Adam Werner has had some injuries, he is healthy now, but we want to protect ourselves throughout the organization."
Hutchinson has played in 126 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets and owns a 50-52-14 record with five shutouts. The Barrie, Ontario, native also has a 92-56-9 record, 2.49 goals-against average .919 save percentage and 14 shutouts in 172 career AHL appearances.
"I am here to do whatever they need me to do. I think every organization, especially ones that are making a good playoff push, you need organizational depth and you need three guys," Hutchinson said after his first practice with his new teammates on Tuesday. "There are very few teams in the league anymore that get through the season with just two goalies. I think just coming in here, work hard in practice, earn the guys' trust in practice and then if I happen to get a game in, then I'm ready to play and hopefully the guys feel comfortable with me in the net."
Video: Goalie Michael Hutchinson arrives in Colorado
In addition to Grubauer, forwards Nazem Kadri (lower body), Matt Calvert (lower body), Mikko Rantanen (upper body), Andre Burakovksy (upper body) and Matt Nieto (upper body) all suffered injuries in the weeks leading up to the deadline. However, all of them should be back before the Avs regular-season finale on April 4.
Burakovsky and Kadri were brought in via trades in summer 2019 and the forwards, along with offseason signings Joonas Donskoi, Valeri Nichushkin and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, have combined for 72 of the team's 211 goals this year (34 percent).
"We added a lot last summer. We love the chemistry in our dressing room, and you don't want to tinker too much with that," said Sakic. "But we feel we added another quality player for our room [in Namestnikov]. I know we got a lot of injuries, but they are all going to be back by mid-March, third week of March, so we are looking at having those guys come back."
In the meantime, Namestnikov has 416 NHL games on his resume and has recorded 183 points (79 goals, 104 assists). The 6-foot, 183-pound forward is currently tied for the league lead with four short-handed tallies this season.
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after practice
"Great motor, highly-competitive guy, good skillset, a guy that can factor in on both special teams. Real good penalty killer and has played different roles on different power plays," Bednar said of the Russian forward. "So, you know, I think he adds skill to our top nine, especially at this point with guys out, but real good depth pick up for us. The guy that can contribute in a bunch of different ways."
Namestnikov last played in the postseason with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he is looking forward to getting a chance at a long spring with his new club.
"It is what you play for and the last couple years unfortunately I didn't get a chance to play in the playoffs," said the 27-year-old. "But, I think here it is a good opportunity and I am hungry to get there."
Video: Vladislav Namestnikov joins Avalanche
Colorado has its' eyes set on winning the Western Conference is in a tight race with the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars for first in the Central Division and the West.
"Our talk before the deadline was to just add players that can come in and add depth, that could give us some relief here during the injuries. Or, if it was to add a big piece that can help us both short term and long term," said Bednar. "If that fit wasn't there, we feel very comfortable with the guys that we have in the room.
"Our chemistry, again that sort of family atmosphere, has been good all year. It's something that has been growing over the past few years, and we've had a lot of additions in the offseason already. I think that we're in a good spot coming down the stretch here as far as the chemistry in our room and the chemistry on the ice as well."