Aarif Deen

I spent weeks trying my hardest to pinpoint every possible name the Avalanche could target for 2C. But in traditional Joe Sakic/Chris MacFarland fashion, they’ve surprised us all once again with the player, the trade and the timing. Simply put, the acquisition of Ryan Johansen is as safe a gamble as you can make if you’re the Avs. But it’s still a gamble, and that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Colorado doesn’t have a lot of assets to give up in trades. And it has several spots to fill on its roster this offseason. So on the one hand, acquiring Johansen with a 50 percent salary retention ($4 million AAV for two seasons) for seemingly nothing (a pending UFA in Alex Galchenyuk) is great. But on the other hand, Johansen is coming off an injury that cut his season short in February, in a year where his numbers dipped. And outside of a successful 2021-22 season (26 goals, 63 points), Johansen’s numbers have been trending in the wrong direction since 2019. But again, a gamble worth taking for a soon-to-be 31-year-old looking to rejuvenate his career on a Cup contender alongside a bevy of strong wingers at Colorado’s disposal.

J.J. Jerez

This is a good move for both teams. It’s not hard to realize how much Johansen’s value has dipped. So for Nashville to eat 50 percent and not have to give up additional assets to rid themselves of Johansen is a solid piece of work for a new GM in Barry Trotz looking to rebuild that roster. But for the Avs, Johansen could very well bounce back on a strong team and prove to be well worth the $4 million he’ll be paid by Colorado for each of the next two seasons. Johansen’s value tanked because he was overpaid. Way overpaid. But I’d argue he’s still a better option than any alternative on the free agent market — and that includes J.T. Compher.

His health is absolutely a factor and shouldn’t be overlooked. But Johansen also played 48-of-56 games in 2021 and 79-of-82 in 2022. Nashville made the playoffs in both years. Sign me up for this gamble. Is it risky? sure. But the reward could be huge.

Also, a 31-year-old center with a chip on his shoulder to prove the naysayers wrong has worked for this team before. I’m looking at you, Nazem Kadri.