The Colorado Avalanche have acquired defenseman Devon Toews from the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2021 second round pick and a 2022 second round pick.
Toews is a two-way defenseman on the verge of a breakout, but he is also an RFA. With under $9 million in cap space, the Islanders could not afford Toews when they also need to sign Mat Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Despite just finishing his second NHL season, Toews is not young, and a short term deal was expected, which would send him into unrestricted free agency. While he has shown that he can be a contributor both offensively and defensively, a weak playoff run followed by an arbitration case that the Islanders weren\’t confident in persuaded them to go with the trade route. While he can be a very valuable player, two second round picks is a good return, although the team\’s last impact second rounder was Scott Mayfield in 2011, and before that, Mikko Koskinen (who is just making a difference in the league now) in 2009 and Travis Hamonic in 2008. One or both of the picks could go to unloading salary to sign Barzal and Pulock.
The Avalanche get a pretty good deal here. After trading Nikita Zadorov to Chicago they were looking for an upgrade, and they certainly get one here in Toews. They have the cap space to sign him, and he will be a good second pairing defenseman for them. They needed a right-hander, but they could move Ian Cole to the right side, maybe to play with Toews, and have the recently-extended Ryan Graves play with Erik Johnson on the third pairing, with Cale Makar and Sam Girard up top. Judging by last year\’s Brady Skjei trade and the amount of teams looking for a top-4 defenseman, not giving up a first rounder is good.
Toews, 26, scored six goals with 22 assists for 28 points in 68 games for the Islanders in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in New York, Toews has 11 goals with 35 assists for 46 points in 116 games.