November 30, 2010

Fleischmann Wants what Mauldin is Smoking

It didn’t take long for the Colorado Avalanche to try and make up for Chris Stewart’s stupidity-induced forced four-to-six-week vacation (link here). On Tuesday, the Avs sacrificed some of their blue-line depth for the greater good... although “good” is relative when talking about forward Tomas Fleischmann, whom they acquired from the Washington Capitals for Scott Hannan.

Fleischmann, who was the Capitals’ number-two center, had been a healthy scratch recently. It’s the second move in as many days for the Avs, who traded prospect Colby Cohen to the Boston Bruins for defenseman Matt Hunwick on Monday, thereby giving themselves the extra body needed in order to deal away Hannan, and potentially relegate Ryan O’Byrne to the press box where he belongs. At least that must be the master plan once regulars like Adam Foote (leg) and Kyle Cumiskey (concussion) get back to normal. Also injured for the Avs are Daniel Winnik (knee), T.J. Galiardi (wrist), Peter Mueller (concussion), and goalie Craig Anderson (groin).

"Kind of summarizes my season so far, don't you think?"

As such, aside from the perks like the huge salary, no one should really want head coach Joe Sacco’s job right now, trying to fit a bunch of square pegs into round holes and keep his team winning against all odds. The team’s forward lines now shape up like this:

Kevin Porter, Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk
David Jones, Matt Duchene, Greg Mauldin
Cody McLeod, Ryan O’Reilly, Brandon Yip
David Koci, Philippe Dupuis, ?

Look for Porter to get demoted a few lines, maybe move to the other wing, and for Fleischmann, who also plays left-wing, to take his spot alongside Stastny. Porter has gone four games without a point, while Fleischmann is on pace for a 33-point season after scoring a career-high 51 last season. However, unless you’re in the porn industry, beggars for bodies can’t afford to be choosers and the Avs are so desperate the move today probably prevents them from having to coax Darcy “Chicken” Tucker out of retirement... and that’s something considering the amount of farmland and chickens ready for the, ahem, tucking around Denver.

Still, there’s little denying that Fleischmann had been the beneficiary of increased defensive focus on the Caps’ top line. With no real top line to speak of, it remains to be seen how this experiment will work out until Colorado’s injury concerns subside.

Of course, it could end up favouring the Avs, with the opposition due to get about as confused as Sacco regarding his new lines. I mean Greg Mauldin scoring four points in a game would throw anybody for a loop... including Mauldin, who’s probably on such a high right now that his lightheadedness has little at all to do with being in Denver (well, maybe something to do with all the pot in the city). All this taken into account, the benefits, if any, are due to be of the short-term variety, especially with Fleischmann slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The trade is a band-aid on what is quickly becoming an epidemic in the Mile High City for a team that by all accounts should start to plummet in the other direction any day now.

Currently an eighth seed in the Western Conference, the Avs deserve credit for exceeding expectations for the second-straight season. However, all good things must come to an end, right? Just look at Fleischmann.

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