Avalanche acquire Mittelstadt, Walker in separate trades

MacFarland said acquiring Walker was crucial with Colorado giving up Byram to get Mittelstadt.

“It was certainly part of the equation,” he said. “It would have been really, really hard to do, to move ‘Bo.’ It was hard to move Bo, period. He’s an amazing human being, and a great hockey player. So that’s one of the tougher things we’ve ever had to do. But definitely getting a really good defenseman in return was certainly part of the equation for us, yes.”

The Avalanche (39-20-5), who defeated the Detroit Red Wings 7-2 on Wednesday, are tied with the Winnipeg Jets for second place in the Central Division, two points behind the first-place Dallas Stars.

Johansen was in his first season with Colorado after being traded by the Nashville Predators for Alex Galchenyuk on June 24, 2023. He has 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 63 games this season, and 578 points (202 goals, 376 assists) in 905-regular-season games with the Avalanche, Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets.

The 31-year-old, who was the No. 4 pick by Columbus in the 2010 NHL Draft, is in the seventh year of an eight-year, $64 million contract ($8 million AAV) signed with Nashville on July 28, 2017. He can become an unrestricted free agent after next season. He was placed on waivers by Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The Flyers (32-23-8) are third in the Metropolitan Division, six points behind the second-place Carolina Hurricanes and four points ahead of the New York Islanders.

Later on Wednesday, they announced they had signed defenseman Nick Seeler to a four-year, $10.8 million contract ($2.7 million AAV). He could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Byram has one season remaining on a two-year contract he signed with the Avalanche on July 1, 2023, and can become a restricted free agent after next season. The 22-year-old has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 55 games this season.

Selected by the Avalanche with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Byram has 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists) in 149 regular-season games. He has 12 assists in 27 Stanley Cup Playoff games and won the Stanley Cup in 2022.

MacFarland said trading Byram put “a pit in my stomach” but that it was the right move because it enabled the Avalanche to upgrade at forward.

“I think it just was a matter of it just it wasn’t working [with Johansen] and we had to fix it,” he said.

The Sabres (29-29-5), who lost 2-1 at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, are sixth in the Atlantic Division and nine points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who hold the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

“… Obviously he’s a guy with lots of potential,” Sabres coach Don Granato said of Byram. “This is the way teams are build, and you see us with a better focus defensively in this building tonight against top players (against the Colorado Avalanche). Those are the areas this franchise has improved in, and we’ve targeted. It’s nice to see we’re making improvements.

“… So, it was a swap of two very, very accomplished young hockey players with talent. We’re certainly happy to have him.”

Sabres forwards Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs have known Byram since they were kids.

“He’s one of my best friends. I’m really excited to add him to this team, he’s going to fit in so well,” Cozens said. “And he’s just such a great player with so much potential. He’s not even close to his ceiling yet. He’s gonna fit in so well with this group on and off the ice, and just very excited to see him get here.”

NHL.com independent correspondents Ryan Boulding and Heather Engel contributed to this report

First appeared on www.nhl.com

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