Sakic busy at trade deadline, picks up speed, toughness
DENVER (AP) Joe Sakic added a little more speed as the Colorado Avalanche charge toward the postseason. A little more toughness, too.
The Avalanche general manager was quite active at the trade deadline Monday, picking up speedy winger Mikkel Boedker from the Arizona Coyotes for veteran forward Alex Tanguay, along with two prospects - defenseman Kyle Wood and forward Conner Bleackley.
Hardly done, Sakic added physical defenseman Eric Gelinas from New Jersey for a 2017 third-round pick.
Two big pickups - one big vote of confidence.
''This shows us they're in it to win it and in it to go far in the playoffs,'' said Matt Duchene, whose team clings to one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference with 18 games remaining. ''This is exciting.''
It's a tightly bunched playoff race, too, with Minnesota just two points behind Colorado for the final spot. The Avs face the Wild on Tuesday night in Minnesota.
''We expect to make the playoffs,'' Sakic said at the airport, shortly before boarding a plane for Minnesota. ''That's what the moves are for, trying to help your team get better. ... We think we did that.''
It was a bittersweet day with the trade of Tanguay, a longtime forward who helped Sakic and the Avalanche win the 2001 Stanley Cup title. Tanguay has struggled this season, scoring just four times (including one last weekend in the outdoor game at Coors Field).
A tough business decision, for sure.
''Alex, giving him a chance to go to Arizona, where he can continue his career,'' Sakic said. ''Next year, we were going to move on, try to get younger.''
The team certainly understands.
''The guys really like Alex here and it's not easy to see him go,'' said Jarome Iginla, who also was teammates with the 36-year-old Tanguay in Calgary. ''It's beyond just playing. It's hard to see a teammate and a longtime friend go.''
The blazing Boedker may be one of the few forwards that can keep up with speedster Nathan MacKinnon. Those two will be paired with captain Gabriel Landeskog on the same line. Boedker had 13 goals and 26 assists with Arizona this season.
''It's exciting to get somebody of Boedker's caliber,'' Landeskog said. ''It sends a message to everybody here that they're willing up top to give us the best chance possible to win and go deep in the playoffs. That's what we want to do.''
Same goes for the acquisition of Gelinas, who has a goal and five assists in 34 games.
''He's big and physical. He's got a chip. He plays confrontational,'' Iginla said. ''I had a couple battles. He's a big guy to play against.''
Before the trade deadline, Sakic said he wasn't interested in surrendering high picks or prospects just for rental players. Boedker and Shawn Matthias, who was acquired last week from Toronto, are both impeding unrestricted free agents.
Any plans to sign Boedker and Matthias long term?
''The plan is to try and help the team this year, to make us better this year,'' Sakic said. ''In the offseason, we're going to have options, which is always nice.''
NOTES: Given backup goaltender Calvin Pickard's solid play, Sakic said Reto Berra will remain with San Antonio of the American Hockey League for the rest of the season. ''We're in a playoff push and you want to go with the goalie that's played the most and been hot,'' Sakic said. ''You don't want to send Calvin down the way he's played.''