It came as a bit of a surprise to many Colorado Avalanche fans when the team struck a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers last fall, acquiring forward Maxime Talbot in exchange for forward Steve Downie. During his short time with Colorado, Downie had proven to be a player who was highly skilled with his speed and puck control, but also tough as nails. He is the type of player who can provide a spark when the team is having a hard time getting revved up. Considering what Downie brought to the table, news of him being dealt received a fair amount of scrutiny. When Talbot joined the Avalanche, many fans viewed him as someone who would have to make a considerable impact to prove his worth.
The given reason for the trade was that Colorado needed a forward whose specialty was killing penalties, which is exactly what Talbot is. Although Colorado's penalty killing at the time was doing fairly well, head coach Patrick Roy and Executive VP of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic thought they needed to boost that particular area if the team was going to have lasting success when playing shorthanded. From the outside, it was difficult to understand to reasoning, but it is there if you look closely enough.
The Avalanche are loaded with fast, gifted forwards who can make magic happen with the puck. They certainly have more guys like that than players who's calling card is playing a tough, in your face, make your life miserable brand of hockey. The Downie/Talbot trade was an example of trading from a position of strength to shore up a position of weakness. As good as Downie is, the Avalanche have many players with a similar skill set to Downie's. Talbot, on the other hand, brought an element of his game that not many other Avalanche forwards have, namely his defensive play. The bottom line is that by trading away Downie for Talbot, the Avalanche were not saying that Talbot was an outright better player, but rather that he filled a need that Downie didn't. Besides, as any general manager could confirm, you have to give value to get value.
Given the price Colorado paid for Talbot, we can safely assume that he will continue to be a key contributor next season. He will likely spend most of his time on the third and fourth lines when the team is at even strength. But of course, the area where he has made a reputation for himself is on the penalty kill. Additionally, his playoff experience is still particularly valuable to the team. He was one of the few players on the Avalanche this past season that wasn't making his first appearance in the playoffs. Overall, Talbot isn't a flashy player, but he is a grinder, and every team needs players like that as well. That is why Colorado has him.
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