As with most stories on this site, all roads lead back to Nazim Qadri. It seems official that the Avs’ former second-line center is headed to Long Island. He leaves a huge void in the Avs lineup, including 35 goals against and 67 assists in the regular and postseason.
The Avs have limited options to fill the shoes left by Naz. There are interior options to move to 2C, such as Alex Newhook, JT Compher or Mikko Rantanen. They will enter the market and possibly the young Sony Milano from Anaheim Ducks. He could also reunite with Paul Stastny. A veteran like Jonathan Toews could be a rent-seeker from the day of the loss. Chicago Blackhawks.
However, one name stands out above the rest. This player hasn’t seen much success and scoring in his career, but he will qualify in Colorado. The first name is the same as the author: Ivan Rodriguez.
The 29-year-old season calls the Steel City home, b Pittsburgh Penguins For the past three seasons. Earlier with the fight Buffalo SabresRodriguez came to the Sabers out of the Boston University system with little success from 2015-2017. He spent the next three years putting up solid performances in the Sabres’ system, scoring 21 goals and 42 assists.
He requested a trade with a competitor and moved up the ranks to the aforementioned Penguins. He will play just seven games in 2020 after being traded before Covid shortened his season. He had a short 2021 season off the ice, playing just 35 games before falling to the rest of the team in the first round. New York Islands.
However, he made a dramatic comeback in the 2021-22 season. In his 82 regular season games, Rodriguez played alongside such renaissance veterans as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He had a career year with 19 goals and 24 assists. That included seven power-play goals in an average of just under 16 minutes of ice time.
Ivan Rodriguez (PIT9) made his presence felt in the Penns thriller 7-4 NYR.
Scored 2 goals and a first rate assist with a 78% xGF% in 5v5.
— JFreshHockey (@JFreshHockey) May 8, 2022
It is also a strong defensive unit. Just last season, he had 33 tackles to go along with 30 blocks and 89 tackles. Of all the market players outside of Kadri, Rodriguez should be high on the Avs list to replace Naz.
The key to his game is his faceoff ability that could impact the Avs. The Avs struggled mightily at faceoff points last season, averaging a 47.3% faceoff winning percentage (FOW). Rodriguez’s career FOW is 45.1%, which some might not consider impressive at first glance. However, his days in Pittsburgh have gradually improved and he can at least make an impact at the point in an Avs uniform.
Rodriguez is also a player who could come to Denver on the cheap. The last three contracts they received were all “confirmed” one-year deals under $2M. The Avs certainly have the space to pull this off inside and they don’t need to move any guys to make it happen. Keeping players like Sam Girard and JT Comper in the current system will provide depth critical to the Avs’ title run. Especially on the back end, getting back the same defense to help lift the trophy is huge for the Avis, who are on their way to making back-to-back title runs.
Back to Pittsburgh’s No. 9 – There are many theories that his numbers are simply inflated by playing with superstars like Crosby and Malkin. His cheaters look like he’s underperforming and scoring the 43 points he scored last season. While playing with those guys, Rodriguez has built himself into a strong middle pairing player that fits well in the Avs organization.
If he were to join Colorado, his projected linemates would work well together, like Crosby and Malkin. Any combination of Rantanen, Arturi Lehkonen, Gabriel Landskog and Valery Nichushkin would give Rodriguez many of the same advantages as his former teammates.
Joe Sakic, while not the general manager of the AVs, was happy to offer similar “make sure” deals, according to Rodriguez. Look at the recent success of guys like Nichuhskin and Jack Johnson. Sakic could put a word with new GM Chris MacFarland to shoot with another “sure-fire” deal in Colorado.
He’s a good move to replace Kadri if he has to go. Rodriguez will play a second-line center role, similar to the success he had last season in Colorado. If it doesn’t work on a one- or two-year contract, you can move on to the next one. It’s worth the risk and if it all works out for Rodriguez and the Avalanche, it could definitely pay off.