In order to do that I think we need to establish a priority on what the Avs should be looking to get in return for their players. So I'm going to go through that now. I recommend everyone taking a look at the Avs futures page to see what the Avs have, and what they need. In my opinion the Avs are pretty heavy on D and center prospects and woefully understocked on LW and G prospects.
Many Avs fans want to see the Avs get an established number one goalie. I just don't think that's going to happen. The only hands down #1 goalie that could possibly be for sale is JS Giguere. I would love to have Giggy, but I seriously doubt the Ducks are going to be giving up a Conne Smythe and Stanley Cup winning goaltender just because he's struggled a little this season. What the Avs really should be looking to get is a top goaltending prospect that can develop into a top notch goaltender. especially since the Avs have the best goalie coach in the league; Jeff Hackett.
Image taken from Avalanche CountryThe next thing the Avs should be looking to acquire is cap space. The Avs will be cutting about $11M off their payroll in the offseason, from expiring contracts (Sakic, Arnason, Laperriere, Leopold, Tjarnqvist, Guite). and with the $3M they already dodidn't spend this season the Avs are looking at $14M in cap space for next season. This is a substantial amount, but some of that money is going to go into bringing a couple of those players back and filling out the roster. However if the Avs can free up another $3-5M they could make a serious run at some of the major free agents out there, which, when added to some promising youg guns, is a formula for a quick turnaround. This is why the Avs should be looking to try and trade Clark, Salei and Tucker. Getting rid of those three would open another $8M in cap room. That's enough for a guy like Bouwmeester.
The next priority for the Avs is draft picks and prospects. This is a deep draft and so draft picks will be vital to restock this teams farm system. Luckily the Avs have drafted and evaluated talent pretty well under Francois Giguere so the fans should be pretty confident there. For prospects they should really be looking at LWs (and, of course, goalie).
So that being said let's look at who the Avs could, and should, go after. I'm limiting teams to ones that have been mentioned in trade talks and trying to evaluate their needs. The scout info will mostly be coming from The Master Beater's blog, Terri Frei's blog and my own speculation. It looks like Boston has a ton of interest in Avs players, along with Montreal, San Jose, Philadelphia, Washington (who might want a defenseman that doesn't take back-breaking penalties at the most inopportune time)and Chicago. I don't think Detroit will trade with CO, mainly because it would be a bad PR move for the Avs (and I don't think many of the Avs pieces would really help Detroit, other than Budaj. FYI: Budaj winning a cup in Detroit would be my absolute nightmare scenario.) I'm going to Add both Buffalo and the NYR because both their defenses could desperately use some help, and that's the Avs main bargaining strength. I also think the Avs could end up trading with the Blue Jackets
Goaltending Prospects: Of the teams listed above most Avs fans probably would want either Jaroslav Halak (MTL) or Tuukka Rask(BOS). As much as I like both prospects I think both are long shots. The Bruins traded away Hannu Toivonen in order to keep Rask. MTL GM Bob Gainey has been very reluctant to trade Halak away.
Luckily there's some other good goaltending prospects out there. My favorite on the list (for no good reason) is Jhonas Enroth (BUF). (picture courtesy of mainehockeyjournal.com). I think he would be available if the Avs parted with a top defender (Salei) and a young backup for Ryan Miller, whose in Buffalo for a while (say Budaj). It might take a little more too (draft picks?) but I think he would be worth it.
Another goalie, that might be available for less would be a different Boston Goalie prospect Kevin Reagan. Other goalie prospects, from the above teams, that would be of interest: Thomas Greiss (SJS), Matt Zaba (NYR), and Semen Varmalov (WSH). (Ok I'll admit I'm interested in Varmalov partially because the potential for Semin/BJ jokes when the Avs play the BJs is off-the-charts, but he's supposedly good too). I think the Avs should stay away from anyone who isn't close to NHL-ready so I ignored prospects still in the OHL and other lower leagues.
I've already gone over caps space: trade Tucker ($2.25M) and Clark (a still ridiculous $3.5M) for cap space. If the Avs can get some decent picks/prospects for Salei ($3M) they should do it too, but they don't have to be as quick on the trigger with him.
Draft Picks: Not much to say here, other than the top 8 I don't know much about the draft, and I certainly am not in the game of projecting 3rd round picks.
Other Prospects: Wingers are needed, especially on the left side, but the Avs don't have the pieces to get a top LW prospect (like Kyle Beach (CHI)), but they could get guys like: Billy Sweat (CHI), Jaime McGinn (SJS), Lukas Kaspar (SJS), Philippe Gogulla (BUF), Justin Jokinen (BUF), the entire Rangers Farm system , Andreas Nodl (PHI), or Oscar Osala (WSH). . I would be pretty happy with any of those guys in return for now.