Lightning traded Ross Colton to Avalanche for pick #37: what he brings to Colorado

The teams announced Wednesday that the Lightning are trading forward Ross Colton to the Avalanche in exchange for the 37th pick in the 2023 draft. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Colton scored 16 goals and had 16 assists in 81 games last season.
  • As a junior, he scored the goal that clinched the 2021 Stanley Cup.
  • The Avalanche kept both of their first-round picks (27th and 31st).

the athleteInstant Analysis:

What Colton Brings to Avalanche

Colton was a productive player on the Lightning, who would likely want to keep up front but was up against the salary cap. The Avalanche took advantage of Tampa Bay’s tight financial situation—something they had done in previous acquisitions—to bring in a player who could provide immediate assistance.

Colton primarily played the winger this past season in Tampa Bay, but Avalanche General Manager Chris McFarland referred to him as a center in the team’s press release. If this is how the team intends to go, Nathan McKinnon, Ryan Johansen and Colton will be in the middle on the top three lines.

Colton had 30 points in each of his two full seasons in the NHL and scored 22 goals and 39 points in 2021-22. He brings postseason experience with him, too: He was on Tampa Bay’s 2021 Cup-winning team and scored the game-winning goal in a series against Montreal. He’s never had more than 13 minutes of ice time per game, so there may be room for him to grab a bigger role for the Avalanche. – spore

What colorado gives up

The Avalanche made this trade for a No. 37 pick in this week’s draft, which they acquired in the Alex Newhook deal on Tuesday. This means that for Newhawk, Colorado has added Colton, a No. 31 pick and AHL defenseman Gianni Fairbrother. Colorado still has two late first-round picks in the draft, so it’s possible McFarland isn’t done making moves. – spore

Read more: The Athletic has live coverage of the 2023 NHL Draft.

ripple effects

The Avalanche would have to agree to a contract with Colton, a restricted free agent. Colorado will now likely not use the flexibility of its cap for the pending payment of unrestricted free agent JT Compher, which will now almost certainly hit the open market on July 1, according to a source familiar with the matter. It appears his time in Colorado is about to expire.

The Avalanche can still use their six best forwards to complete their roster, and they must fill out portions of the bottom six. With a couple of first-round picks in his pocket and a bit of financial wiggle room heading into free agency, MacFarland will have an opportunity to fill those holes. – spore

what are they saying

“Ross is a hardworking two-way center with a championship pedigree,” McFarland said. “He’s a physical force in his game, he’s very competitive and his versatility will make him a valuable addition to our squad in many ways.”

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(Photo: Sergey Belsky/USA Today)

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