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Avalanche additions of Yakov Trenin, Brandon Duhaime look vital after Logan O’Connor injury news

The Colorado Avalanche was aggressive leading into the NHL trade deadline this past week, adding four new players to a roster that was already considered one of the best in the league.

There was a little more context about why after practice Sunday when Avs coach Jared Bednar announced Logan O’Connor is done for the season with a hip injury. Adding Yakov Trenin and Brandon Duhaime in a pair of deals the day before the deadline looked like solid moves at the time, but now both players appear to be a more vital infusion of depth and less luxury pickups.

“They’re big bodies. They’re battle-tested,” Avs GM Chris MacFarland said. “I think they make us harder to play against. We’ve seen both of them in the division a lot over the years. Brandon is a big, physical guy that can skate and kill penalties. I think Trenin is a guy that brings versatility in that he can move around and do different things.”

Trenin played in O’Connor’s most typical spot in the lineup Friday against the Minnesota Wild — next to Ross Colton and Miles Wood on what will be the team’s third line moving forward. Bednar said both players could get a look in that role, and relatively new addition Zach Parise will be a candidate when he returns from a lower-body injury as well.

The Avs identified two needs before the deadline. One was obvious: an upgrade at the No. 2 center position. Enter Casey Mittelstadt, and then Sean Walker as a replacement for Bo Byram, the cost for adding Mittelstadt.

The second target was adding bigger, heavier players for the bottom half of the forward corps. The fact that Duhaime and Trenin arrived on the same day wasn’t lost on them.

“I think that’s just a tap on the shoulder to say play your game and don’t change,” Duhaime said. “I plan on doing that.”

Added Trenin: “Both of us, I think we fit this system. It is very fast forwards and lots of forecheck, get the puck back and go to the net. It’s good for our game and I think we fit pretty good here.”

Both Duhaime and Trenin were thrown into a game with the Avs with little prep time — no practices, just a morning skate and some video work to give them a crash course on how the team likes to play.

Duhaime was playing against his former team, which was an odd wrinkle. Both were playing against their former coach. John Hynes coached Trenin in Nashville as he became an NHL regular, while Duhaime had him with the Wild this season.

“I like (Hynes) a lot as a coach,” Trenin said. “He’s very, very passionate. He’s very systematic, like you always need to be dialed into the details. It was good for me.”

That sounds pretty similar to what players say about Bednar. The Avs coach also pointed out that teams Colorado might see during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs have similar types of players, and the club’s decision-makers felt an urgency to beef up.

Both Trenin and Duhaime immediately became fixtures in the penalty-killing rotation. Trenin also took nine faceoffs after registering only 50 in games with Nashville this season. If Trenin doesn’t slot in next to Colton, he could be an option to center the fourth line at some point.

“I used to play center almost my whole life and in the minors for Nashville,” Trenin said. “I still had it in my head, but I just had to dig and find it.

“It was definitely hard. New system, and I was used to a little bit different D-zone (coverage). A few shifts where I was a little confused. …  I watched my shifts and it looked better than I felt on the ice. We’re going to build on that and just keep growing as a team.”

Trenin had a chance to take a stroll around Washington Park on his off day. Both he and Duhaime felt better after a day to take a deep breath and then practice before this upcoming four-game road trip through Western Canada and then St. Louis.

O’Connor has been arguably the Avs’ best depth forward this season, but getting Trenin and Duhaime, not to mention the pending arrival of another option in Nikolai Kovalenko, could help Colorado cope with a key loss much better than it might have a week ago.

And the expectations in Denver remain the same — Stanley Cup or bust.

“I’m excited for it,” Duhaime said. “Coming into this group, everyone sees how good they are. I just want to come in and play my game and try to help this team with keeping their momentum.

“You dream about that as a kid. Now we’ve got the opportunity in front of us, so it’s exciting.”

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