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Avalanche trades first-round pick, Ryan Johansen to Flyers for defenseman Sean Walker

The Colorado Avalanche has joined the arms race in the Western Conference, bolstering an area of strength with the addition of defenseman Sean Walker from the Philadelphia Flyers.

Colorado traded a 2025 first-round pick and center Ryan Johansen, for Walker, a right-handed defenseman who is having a career year in his first season with the Flyers and a 2026 fifth-round pick. The Avs’ first-rounder is top-10 protected.

RELATED: Avalanche analysis: Colorado better after two big trades, but play for another Stanley Cup comes at significant cost

Shortly after announcing that deal Wednesday afternoon, the franchise made another big trade that saw the Avs send defenseman Bo Byram to the Buffalo Sabres for forward Casey Mittelstadt.

Walker, 29, has six goals and 22 points while averaging a career-best 19:36 of ice time for the Flyers, who are in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but have been adamant about still being a seller before the Friday afternoon deadline. Walker is a pending unrestricted free agent in the final year of a four-year contract that carries a $2.65 million cap hit.

The Avalanche added Johansen in a trade this offseason with the hope that he would fill the No. 2 center role behind Nathan MacKinnon, but it hasn’t worked out. He has one more season left on his contract at $8 million — Nashville retained half of that in the trade with Colorado.

The Flyers subsequently waived Johansen after executing the trade.

“Ryan, he put everything he had into it,” Avs general manager Chris MacFarland said. “It just wasn’t working, for whatever reason. He’s a really good person, but definitely the cap logistics of it was an important part. The Gabe [Landeskog] situation is still very much unknown at this point and managing that part and having the [Devon Toews] extension kick in was definitely part of the math calculation as well because we’re going to be tight.”

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