Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland was unable to add a big name ahead of Friday’s NHL trade deadline. And Colorado was outplayed in every facet of a 6-3 loss to the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars the very next day.

These two things are not related. No matter how much the script was written in a way to make Friday’s lack of notable trades a concern.

There’s no question Colorado was interested in acquiring a top-six centerman. And with a little more luck, likely would have. It’s hard to blame the Avs management for not paying what Toronto paid for Ryan O’Reilly. And injuries and health concerns for Jonathan Toews, Sean Monahan and Adam Henrique ultimately washed away what was remaining on the market before Friday.

The Avs did add a depth center — one with playoff pedigree — to slot into the bottom six for the stretch run. Lars Eller was acquired from the Washinton Capitals for a 2025 second-round draft pick. It’s a sign that MacFarland is doubling down on depth in his attempt to piece together the right puzzle to compete in the postseason.

Rather than forcing a trade for a No. 2 center, Colorado chose to add a player that has a Stanley Cup-clinching goal on his resume.

Head coach Jared Bednar expects to use Eller as a third-line center. He even referred to him as such before he dressed in his first two games with Colorado.

“Solid, big, strong third-line center. That’s what he is,” Bednar said. “Penalty killer, good on draws, lots of experience. I’d say this is a good pickup. We need help in the middle of the ice, and with guys like [Darren] Helm and [Gabriel Landeskog] missing from our lineup—guys that we relied on heavily in a lot of draw situations, especially on the left side.”

Eller joins center Jack Johnson, American Hockey League goalie Keith Kinkaid, and AHL forward Gustav Rydahl as the four additions the Avs have made over the past week. When you include Matt Nieto and Denis Malgin, Colorado has acquired four depth skaters to fill in on an NHL roster that had little to no trust in its bottom six several months ago.

The lone trade consummated by the Avs on Friday was a minor-league deal that sent forward Anton Blidh to the New York Rangers for Rydahl, a fellow Swede. Playing his first year in North America following a lengthy 371-game career in the Swedish Hockey League, Rydahl, 28, has 15 points in 40 games in the AHL. He likely won’t see much time in the NHL this season, if at all, but is expected to shore up the Avs’ minor-league depth with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.

Eller is easily the biggest name of the bunch, and one that will more than likely play a larger role than you’d think at first glance.

“I expect him to go do what he’s done for the Caps and Canadiens and his whole career,” Bednar said. “He’s a veteran guy, right? So normally when you bring in veteran guys, you’re acquiring [them] for a reason.”

Eller has 15 goals and 49 points in 96 career playoff games. He has only missed the postseason twice in his 13-year career.

“He brings a lot of strengths that we need, and that’s why we acquired him. And we’d like him to continue to do those things,” said Bednar.

These moves seem underwhelming, but they’re ultimately all Colorado needs to work its way through what has been an underwhelming Western Conference. Sure, the Avs don’t have as much of the star power they did a season ago. But it doesn’t take away from what they do have. And it’s what many in the West — and even some of the top teams in the East — wish they had in their possession.

MacFarland addressed the lack of depth the team started the season without. But Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen, Cale Makar and Devon Toews are still hanging around. J.T. Compher is playing the best hockey of his career. Bowen Byram is rejuvenated after early-season injuries. The same goes for Samuel Girard after his early-season struggles. And Alexandar Georgiev is giving you enough in goal to make a long run.

If Gabriel Landeskog is able to return, he’ll inject the type of energy you often see from a big trade-deadline acquisition. The only difference is, he’s the captain, and the team has proof of concept with No. 92.

It all may seem like a step back from a season ago. But Stanley Cup champions don’t often go 16-4 in the postseason. The Avalanche might have to grind a little harder, face more adversity and have their backs up against the wall at times.

It doesn’t mean they can’t win again with this roster.