The NHL’s top-ranked team just added another key piece.
The Colorado Avalanche reportedly acquired defenseman Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday evening, sending prospect Drew Helleson and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Ducks will retain 50 percent of Manson’s $4.1 million salary this season.
If it wasn’t clear before, the Avalanche are officially all-in.
Trading a promising young defense prospect in Helleson, along with a second-rounder in a deep draft, for a 30-year-old shutdown defender on an expiring contract is about as “win-now” as it gets. The Avalanche are in the eye of their contention window. And with Nazem Kadri set to leave in free agency at year’s end, the time was now for GM Joe Sakic to push his chips to the middle of the table.
Manson’s play has certainly fallen off, as of late.
The veteran blueliner is no longer the bonafide top-four staple he was in his prime, with his offensive production particularly taking a dip, but he’ll still help the Avalanche accomplish their short-term needs.
While he’s not the player he once was, Manson still adds a physical element to a skilled and mobile Avalanche defense corpse in need of some shutdown presence, all while proving capable of logging around 20 minutes per night.
If prospect Bowen Byram eventually returns from the concussion issues he’s battled this season, Manson will then give the Avalanche a whopping seven intriguing NHL defenders to plug into their lineup as they choose, with a right side of Manson, Cale Makar, and Erik Johnson, in particular, looking as daunting as they come.
The Ducks, meanwhile, add some very intriguing pieces to a growing cupboard of prospects and draft capital.
Helleson, a second-round pick of the Avs in 2019, is currently thriving at Boston College in the NCAA, sitting with 25 points in 32 games as a Junior. The 20-year-old right-shot joins a Ducks organization that already boasts Jamie Drysdale, Olen Zellweger, Henry Thrun, and Jackson LaCombe in their defensive pipeline. The second-round pick is just gravy, and was likely so high in exchange for Anaheim retaining the maximum amount of Manson’s salary.
With the trade deadline less than a week away, today’s trade likely gets the ball rolling on a number of potential deals league-wide.