Thank you for the questions, all very good ones and some very difficult to answer.
The trade deadline has come and gone as of, about an hour ago. And although we weren't able to secure any significant trade opportunity, we were very active in the discussions and had a number of partners that we were in lengthy talks with.
At the end of the process, I turned down three deal opportunities because, quite simply, the prices were too high. I will not forgo the future of the franchise by sending high draft picks or quality young players away for a short term prayer. We have done that far too much recently. My plan is to put a stop to that process and build a viable winning franchise that is poised for short and long term success. That, is a tall order, I am aware, but I have been hands off from a personnel perspective for the better part of 4 years now. I will need to roll up my sleeves and explore our options, but giving away our future at the trade deadline is not something I am interested in.
We are, however, talented in a number of areas. Unfortunately, this is a very challenging league and talent alone is not the answer, chemistry and all assets pulling in the same direction are the answer. We have a strong base, we now need to supplement that with sound direction to bring us back to our goal.
To answer your first question, what are we looking for at the deadline?, in this year's case, we have to address some injury issues that have provided setbacks. I am hopeful those are mostly behind us on the offensive end, so that we can work to build the chemistry back where it needs to be for the home stretch of the season. Adam Jones is expected to return next game, as he had a minor set back in his recovery with a bit of an unexpected additional injury that sidelined him the last two games in addition to the original injury. Casey Powell tweaked an injury that had him out the one game in Buffalo, unexpected, but better to be safe and have him miss one game than 4 games. Mike McNamara went down in the Buffalo game with what we thought was much more serious than the MRI scan showed it to be, but he will miss some time.
Our defense, while not the best in the League has become quite steady in the last few games. Dillon Ward has been solid and is still developing as a quality goaltender in this League, we all need to remember, he is a rookie and is only going to get exponentially better as time goes on and he gains more experience. The kid has the capacity to be the foundation for this franchise for a long time.
So when we start checking off boxes, our goaltending is a strength moving forward and will progress, our defense is an area of concern and I would like to get bigger and more physical back there, providing support to the goaltending. We think we have some very fast, athletic players that can work in the new system and provide transition, but we need to have some defenders that can provide grit, tenacity, and size.
Offensively, I believe we have talent, getting the talent to commit to playing well within the framework of that new system up front is paramount. We have good individuals, we need to make them a team, that is difficult from a trade deadline perspective. We are making efforts towards that end, the final result is much more plausible with Jones and Powell in the lineup.
My approach for this process is to reach out to all the teams and gauge activity, I would tell you that the activity level this year was/is low. 9 team league with most teams still in the mix makes it difficult to execute on anything, there are very few buyers OR sellers, and the cost becomes too high overall for anything, even practice players, that can now be traded because of the new structure of the League. Tough to trade for practice players who are the team's property only until the end of the year and then become free agents. The only players that become available for trade are non performing players or players with near expiring contracts that will be eligible for free agency soon, unless you are willing to overpay.
We were active in the process, talked to all other 8 teams, but you can rule out some teams right away. You don't want to trade in your division, Edmonton loves their mix and they should, not interested in a lot of moves, Calgary doesn't want to help us in anyway and neither does Vancouver, and we don't want to help them either. The fact is, the conversations are cordial and pleasant but not much is conveyed. You turn to the east and partners are more willing but they all still want to keep their core. Most players aren't offered up at all, we do exchange lists of available players in most cases but many times its more specific and to the point. And those lists can all come with catches, "you can have this guy but I need this in return" (something you probably aren't willing to give up) and then there are the discussions of needs for other teams in an effort to create three way deals, those have to work for everyone and take usually a lot more time than is afforded in the window that we have.
Your last question is probably the most relevant, what are the obstacles? There can be many, travel, salary in a capped age, age of a player, eligibility for free agency pending, willingness to commute, immigration issues, east west issues, relocation to the market issues, chemistry, AND oh yeah TALENT. All of these can affect a deal, even if you find a willing partner, with the right player, and willing to accept the "right" terms, it might not make sense from a number of logistical standpoints. This is why you see few deals done at the deadline, there are just too many factors to make it work. In Colorado we have some inherent challenges, while it is a most desirable place for player's to play it is also the longest flight from the major hubs for players, Eastern players fly from Toronto, Western players fly from Vancouver, mostly, we aren't especially close to either and its not just about flying to Denver, they have to go on the road every game. We try to have them live here but that doesn't work for every guy, and it takes its toll on lots of players that can't quite figure out the right recipe to make it work for them. I commend those players that make the sacrifice to commit to living in the city where they play, they make a ton of sacrifices every year to do it and we appreciate it. Most of those players are younger and unproven, making them harder to acquire. All that has to be factored in to making a trade.
The roster process isn't over today however, we have until Thursday to sign free agents and add to the roster and move players around, if we think that will help. I am looking to add a couple of players to the roster and a few names will be familiar names to the Mammoth because they can provide instant chemistry with the coaches and the guys on the team. The point is, they will be free, and not jeopardize our future for picks or solid players that we want for the future.
We would like to think we can make a run here and we aren't too far off, the excitement of the Calgary game at home last game, is indicative of how we want to play, great defense and timely offense. We need to STOP spotting teams 5 goals and that is a mental preparation thing that the new coaches are acutely focusing on. Our offense has great individuals, that need to buy in to the team concept or we will find players that will. You, the fans of the Mammoth, deserve better than what we have been giving you and I am committed to getting that done. I am not proud of our record recently and winning is a top priority and I need to re-engage in our success and get us back to where I am proud of.
We didn't choose to do anything at this deadline but that doesn't mean we are happy with our position. There just wasn't the right deal that would help us over the top, I, along with our new coaches, need to focus on the pieces that are here and get them to start firing on all cylinders.
Stay with us. All the best.