The Colorado Avalanche are Stanley Cup Champions. Avs GM Joe Sakic has done an excellent job building a roster that dominated not only in the regular season but in the playoffs as well. Samuel Girard was a part of that dominance but unfortunately found himself sidelined due to a broken sternum. he suffered in Game 3 of the second round of the playoffs against the St. Louis Blues. The Avalanche were deep enough to move on without the services of Girard to clinch the cup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now looking toward the offseason, can New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello pry the top-four defenseman from Joe Sakic who has a laundry list of tasks to complete of his own this summer?
At the beginning of the 2021-22 season, it had been rumored Girard could be made available in order to pave a clear path for Bowen Byram to play full-time at the NHL level. However, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun shot down the notion, and later, Byram took a leave of absence after battling concussion symptoms that also revealed he felt like he couldn't continue to play hockey.
Well, Byram returned to the Avalanche after receiving a clean bill of health, and when the Avalanche found themselves without Girard, they turned to their 2019 first-round (fourth overall) draft pick. The 21-year-old defenseman showed great strides in his game playing an important role in the Avalanche's cup-clinching run. With Byram's emergence, Girard could become expendable with Devon Toews and Byram on the left side.
The Avalanche have a number of contracts they need to sign this summer and proper planning by Sakic should ensure his team can consistently compete for a cup year after year. Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic states:
"If the Avs want to retain any of pending unrestricted free agents Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri or Valeri Nichushkin, or get a head start on Nathan MacKinnon’s extension (he’s UFA in the summer of 2023), then Girard seems to be the odd man out."- Eric Duhatschek
Girard is signed for the next five seasons carrying a $5 million AAV. The Avalanche have been open about wanting to retain their current pending unrestricted free agents and you know Nathan Mackinnon's next contract is going to be a whopper. The Islanders are in the market for a left-handed defenseman to pair with Noah Dobson and also want to bring more offense from the blue line. Girard checks both boxes and at the ripe age of 24 years old, he makes for a perfect long-term solution for the Islanders' second pair.
If available, Girard will certainly draw a lot of interest. The Avalanche don't have any draft picks until the third round of the 2022 NHL Draft with the Islanders owning Colorado's second-rounder, and the Arizona Coyotes owning their first-round pick as part of the Darcy Kuemper trade. Maybe Sakic is intrigued by the Islanders' 13th overall selection, and maybe Anthony Beauvillier is included in a "hockey deal." Either way, Girard won't come cheap as a multi-30-point player from the blue line.
There seems to be a growing list of possible defensemen available that Lamoriello can add to his own blue line. From Jakob Chychrun and Oliver Kylington to Nicolas Hague and Girard, Lamoriello has plenty of options to make something happen. Add Girard as the latest name that Lamoriello should be picking up the phone to inquire about.