Late Wednesday night–hey, I’m a school teacher, 9PM is late–my Twitter timeline started lighting up at the news that the Colorado Avalanche had traded defenseman Stefan Elliott. Elliott, an unsigned RFA, was slated to begin the season in San Antonio playing for the Rampage if, or when, he signed his new deal.
I’ve had the feeling since late July, that wasn’t going to happen.
Elliott had done pretty much all he was going to do in the Colorado organization. While a quality AHL player, he had struggled to establish himself as an NHL mainstay in his four year with the club. In that time, he had been passed on the depth chart by several players, most recently Tyson Barrie. It just didn’t seem likely that the Avalanche–or Elliott–were going to be satisfied with a fifth year player gutting it out for another season in AAA hockey.
This makes the return they got for him–at least in one amateur writer’s opinion–a steal.
Brandon Gormley was the 13th overall pick in 2010 of the (then) Phoenix Coyotes. Many felt the 6’2″ defenseman from Murray River PEI actually slipped to 13th and could’ve gone higher based on his skill set. A solid two-way player with high hockey IQ, Gormley’s one knock would be his skating ability. In 153 AHL games, he has put up 15 goals–including his first pro goal as a member of the Rampage–and added 60 assists. Gormley also has 32 games on his NHL resume, scoring 2g-2a-4pts.
Now that we’ve met the pieces, what does it all mean?
As I wrote earlier, I am of the belief that Stefan Elliott was probably never going to be a member of the Rampage. In my projected pairings last weekend, I left him off with the idea he may be headed to Europe for a season. For this reason, I can’t really buy into the notion that this is a huge “loss” for the Silver & Black. The trade did, however, return a quality player which will benefit the Rampage in one way or the other.
Gormley would need to pass through waivers to play in San Antonio, so it’s possible the Avalanche aren’t too keen on potentially losing a player they just traded for and he stays in Denver. If that does happen, someone who played in the NHL last season would need to go. Another trade is certainly possible. Another possibility is that a player like Nate Guenin or Zach Redmond are sent through waivers and assigned to San Antonio should they clear.
While neither of those guys are likely to make the average NHL fan excited, they are certainly quality AHL level players and would be a welcome addition to a very young defensive corps in San Antonio. The question remains, though, will Colorado be willing to send down a player on a one-way contract to play in the AHL for NHL money.
Whether it be Gormley, Redmond, or Guenin, their addition will certainly make the already strong Rampage blue line that much stronger. And if somehow none of those players make it to San Antonio, whether because of trades or being claimed on waivers, the job that Joe Sakic and Co. have done to build up organizational depth should make the “loss” of Elliott much easier to take.