Playoffs "important," but Sakic won't deal top picks, prospects
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Making the playoffs is “important,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said Tuesday night, but he won’t trade either of his two first-round draft picks or a top prospect to accomplish the goal.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “We’re looking at the big picture here and we love what’s coming. It’s a process and we’re not going to deviate from that plan. If there’s a player that can help us that isn’t going to include one of those or our top prospects, then we’ll look at that.”
The NHL trading deadline is Feb. 25.
Speaking with a half-dozen media members shortly before the Avalanche played Columbus at the Pepsi Center, Sakic expressed confidence in coach Jared Bednar and his staff, and said he believes the team has what it takes to end its losing ways and make it back to the postseason.
“The problems are not coaching at all,” Sakic said. “We have good systems. The biggest thing for me is our play away from the puck.”
The Avalanche were 17-7-5 on Dec. 7, tied with Nashville with 39 points for the best record in the Western Conference, though the Predators had two more wins.
They’ve since gone 5-14-3 and fallen into ninth place in the West, two points out of the final playoff spot with 31 games remaining.
“Pretty surprised,” Sakic said. “I think the one thing with our team, play away from the puck. I think we’re doing a pretty good job with the puck, but defensively we’re taking too many chances and we’re giving up too many high-quality chances and we’re not getting the big save. If we can shore up that defensive play, our play away from the puck and be a little more committed to checking, then we can turn this thing around.
“We have two good goalies,” he said of Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer, “and both have lost some confidence, but you get a win and we can right the ship.”
Sakic said he’s been talking to teams about possible trades “for the better part of three or four weeks to see how we can make our team better.”
He emphasized: “What we’re not doing is moving our high picks or (high) prospects. Right now, for any player you’re talking about they’re looking for players we’re not willing to give up. There’s things that we’re going to continue to look at, hockey trades, and see how we can get better.”
As for dealing to get into the playoffs, Sakic said he would be interested in improving the team’s scoring depth.
“If it’s for the right player for the right price, then we’re definitely going to look at that to try and help this team,” he said. “We’ve been trying to do that for a few weeks now. Right now, things seem to be slow and a lot of teams are taking a very patient approach.
“Right now we like our back end, we like our goaltending, we just have to get them playing with more confidence. If we can add scoring scoring depth, that would be a priority right now.
“(The playoffs is) our goal, it’s very important. We’ve got a group that two months ago we were in a real good position. Right now, things have slipped, but I believe in the guys in that dressing room, that we can right the ship. I know they believe it. Right now, confidence is a little low and we have to try and find a way to win some games.
“We still have 31 games to go, almost half the season.”