Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is being realistic. He knows this season is going to lead to a trip to the playoffs and his focus is now on building his team into a contender for the 2017-18 campaign.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog and star forward Matt Duchene's names will continue to swirl around the rumor mill up until the March 1 trade deadline, and given how a trade involving either player is not guaranteed to happen this season, their names will float around during the summer, too.
The Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders are among the teams that have expressed interest in either Landeskog or Duchene, or both, but a trade is not imminent.
Beyond those players, the Denver Post reports the Avalanche has other assets that could be moved this season outside of pending unrestricted free agents, like Jarome Iginla and Fedor Tyutin.
"I think in general, you can look up and down the lineup and nobody's really had a great first half of the season," Sakic told the Post. "Hopefully we get that in the second half. There are a lot of guys that have struggled and it's the whole group."
Duchene understands all the trade talk comes with the territory, but it doesn't mean it's easy to hear.
"It's part of the game," Duchene told the Post on Friday. "It's part of the business. When you're in the position we're in, you expect things like that."
The Avs do not have much salary cap space to work with, which could make trying to move certain players, like Iginla ($5.333 million cap hit) or Carl Soderberg ($4.75 million cap hit), a little challenging, but that won't stop the banter over the next two months.
"Rumors are going to be flying around," Landeskog told the Post, "but whether things change or not, we have to show up and play and make sure we're responsible for the way our team finishes up this year."