Avalanche Journal: My NHL Awards ballot and grades of Colorado trades, draft picks

In this week’s Avalanche journal, beat writer Bennett Durando shares his 2022-23 NHL Awards ballot. But first, a report card evaluating Colorado’s busy week of trades and draft picks.

Alex Galchenyuk to Nashville for … Ryan Johansen: B

An above-average trade because it was undeniably good business. Johansen fits a need. But does he fit Colorado’s style and system? That’s the only area worthy of scrutiny. Whether Johansen at 31 — fresh off leg surgery — has the skating ability to keep up with the Avalanche will be answered in October. But Galchenyuk was a pending UFA the Avs weren’t extending anyway. The Predators didn’t sign him either. That made the deal low-risk, even if there’s a chance it’s not a seamless fit.

Alex Newhook to Montreal for … Ross Colton from Tampa Bay, Gianni Fairbrother and No. 31 (Mikhail Gulyayev) from Montreal: A

Two trades in one to simplify things. A masterclass in flipping picks. This is the front office’s bag: identifying teams in need of a salary dump before free agency and pouncing on trade opportunities at the draft. Considering the difficulty of Colorado’s contract negotiations with restricted free agent Bo Byram, there was always a chance that his fellow RFA Newhook would become a trade chip this offseason.

The Avs got three playoff runs out of the former No. 16 pick on a cheap entry-level contract, then they turned him into something more when it was time to pay. Colton is a bottom-six commodity and a championship player. The pick and prospect are part of an effort to rebuild the farm system. The real magic was adding that first-rounder while keeping the original.

The only side effect preventing A+ status is the likely loss of UFA J.T. Compher stemming from this trade. He was going to be tricky to re-sign anyway.

Drafting Calum Ritchie 27th: B-

Draft experts tend to agree Ritchie has a high floor, making him a smart late first-round pick for an organization that needed to feel secure in at least one prospect’s likelihood of becoming an NHL player. His upside is where opinions differ. Does the OHL center possess the skill to develop into a top-six forward in the NHL? Or does he plateau as a bottom-six Swiss army knife? The risk factor is health. He projected as a top-10 pick before playing through a shoulder injury last season.

Drafting Mikhail Gulyayev 31st: A-

With the bonus pick, the Avs took a risk. And why not, immediately after a safe selection? Why not gamble on an undersized, agile defenseman whose favorite player is Cale Makar? Gulyayev has already appeared in KHL games as an 18-year-old, and he excels in Russia’s junior league. He’s under contract there until 2025, so part of the Avs’ gamble is not having their own people overseeing his development.

Awards season

The Avalanche had no winners this year, but plenty of vote-getters. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen finished fifth and sixth in Hart voting, respectively. Cale Makar, already a Norris winner, placed third this time while Devon Toews came in 14th.

Jared Bednar was fifth place for Jack Adams coach of the year award. Alexandar Georgiev was seventh in Vezina voting for best goaltender. J.T. Compher placed 13th for Selke.

In the interest of transparency, here is my ballot. Actual winners are in italics. (Writers don’t vote on the Jack Adams or Vezina.)

Hart Trophy: league MVP

1) Connor McDavid, EDM; 2) Matthew Tkachuk, FLA; 3) David Pastrnak, BOS; 4) Nathan MacKinnon, COL; 5) Jason Robertson, DAL.

Norris Trophy: top defenseman with “greatest all-around ability”

1) Adam Fox, NYR; 2) Erik Karlsson, SJS; 3) Cale Makar, COL; 4) Hampus Lindholm, BOS; 5) Brent Burns, CAR.

I use the award’s formal description for a reason. Karlsson won the prize. I was one of 41 voters who gave Fox the first-place edge. He was superior in most defensive metrics, while Karlsson doesn’t even play in some defensive situations. That should count for something in the award for best defenseman. (And it’s not like Fox’s offense was nonexistent; he averaged 0.88 PPG.)

Seattle’s Vince Dunn, who finished 11th, agrees. “I think if you want to change the definition of what the trophy is, then it should only be how many points you’re getting — but the definition of the trophy is the best all-around defenseman,” he told The Post in April. “And sometimes it’s just always looked at as points. So yeah, it can kind of be a little mismanaged that way.”

For disgruntled Avs fans: Availability is important. Makar played less than 75% of the regular season. Obviously, injuries aren’t his fault, but the award honors the best defenseman of this season. There’s little doubt that Makar is the best on the planet, and it’s a credit to him that he was a finalist despite playing only 60 games. If he had played in 70 instead, that would’ve made it a tougher decision.

Calder Trophy: rookie of the year

1) Matty Beniers, SEA; 2) Stuart Skinner, EDM; 3) Owen Power, BUF; 4) Noah Cates, PHI; 5) Matias Maccelli, ARI.

Selke Trophy: best defensive forward

1) Patrice Bergeron, BOS; 2) Nico Hischier, NJD; 3) Joel Eriksson Ek, MIN; 4) Mikael Backlund, CGY; 5) Anze Kopitar, LAK.

Lady Byng Trophy: sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct

1) Jared Spurgeon, MIN; 2) Joe Pavelski, DAL; 3) Patrice Bergeron, BOS; 4) Jaccob Slavin, CAR; 5) Anze Kopitar, LAK.

NHL All-Star team

Left wing: 1) Jason Robertson, DAL; 2) Kirill Kaprizov, MIN; 3) Artemi Panarin, NYR.

Center: 1) Connor McDavid, EDM; 2) Nathan MacKinnon, COL; 3) Leon Draisaitl, EDM.

Right wing: 1) Matthew Tkachuk, FLA; 2) David Pastrnak, BOS; 3) Mikko Rantanen, COL.

Defensemen: 1) Adam Fox, NYR; 2) Erik Karlsson, SJS; 3) Cale Makar, COL; 4) Hampus Lindholm, BOS; 5) Brent Burns, CAR; 6) Rasmus Dahlin, BUF.

Goalie: 1) Ilya Sorokin, NYI; 2) Linus Ullmark, BOS; 3) Juuse Saros, NSH.

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