Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild Pick & Prediction MARCH 8th 2024

Brandon Duhaime was all-in with the Wild, but Friday night in Denver, the 26-year-old forward will be wearing a Colorado uniform when Minnesota faces the Avalanche.

Duhaime was traded to Colorado on Thursday, a move made hours before Minnesota’s 5-2 win at Arizona. He will be ready to suit up along with the three other players Colorado acquired Wednesday and Thursday.

Duhaime was popular in the Wild locker room, but now he will be facing off against those friends and former teammates. Minnesota entered Thursday nine points out of the second wild card in the Western Conference, so Duhaime was flipped for a 2026 third-round draft choice.

“We put ourselves in a position to see guys have to leave, and I think that’s on us players,” Wild forward Marcus Foligno said. “We’ve got to blame ourselves when you lose buddies. I’ve been a part of it in Buffalo every trade deadline, and it’s not fun.

“It’s a crappy time and (Duhaime) was pretty down when he had to go. But he’s got a great opportunity in Colorado, for sure, and just a guy in the room that’s going to be missed.”

Foligno has missed the past 12 games with a groin injury but is expected to return to face the Avalanche. The lineup could get a further shakeup if Minnesota moves any other players before the Friday trade deadline.

Adam Beckman was recalled from Iowa of the AHL as the Wild placed Marcus Johansson (lower body) on injured reserve. Beckman joined the lineup against Arizona and logged an assist in 12:58 of ice time during his NHL season debut.

Colorado made significant changes before getting Duhaime, the biggest of which being the acquisition of forward Casey Mittelstadt from the Sabres. The Avalanche had to give up young, talented defenseman Bowen Byram for Mittelstadt, who will slot in as the second-line center.

Mittelstadt and Duhaime are expected to play Friday, as well as the other two players picked up, defenseman Sean Walker and fourth-line forward Yakov Trenin.

The Avalanche made the moves to add offensive depth, something that was lacking in their first-round playoff exit last season. Ryan Johansen, who was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Walker deal, was brought in to add punch as the second-line center ahead of this season but wasn’t a fit.

“You’re not winning in this league without depth. You’re just not,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “We had a good team last year. We had 51 wins last year. We were lacking depth and you saw what happened. There’s no guarantee the depth gets you where you want to go. But I know this — you’re not getting to where you want to go without it.

“There’s no question we’re a deeper team today than we were yesterday.”

Colorado’s depth will be helped if forward Valeri Nichushkin returns Friday night. Nichushkin has not played since Jan. 10, five days before he entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. He has been skating with the team this week and is poised to return.

Nichushkin’s return will help the Avalanche, as Logan O’Connor is likely to miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

–Field Level Media

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