Avalanche keeping all options open

Updated: February 23, 2012, 11:44 AM ET
By Craig Custance

For Colorado Avalanche GM Greg Sherman, it was about the big picture when it came to Steve Downie. He wasn't focused on the drop in offensive production from the former Tampa Bay Lightning winger, one that puts Downie at just 28 points in 55 games. Or the minus-15 after Downie was a plus player every previous season in Tampa.

Sherman saw a rugged player who scored 22 goals (to go with 208 penalty minutes) at 22 years old and was fantastic for the Lightning during the playoffs last season at 23. Downie had 14 points in 17 playoff games in helping the Lightning advance to the Eastern Conference finals. He saw a player who was a former first-round pick and still is just 24 years old.

So when it came time to spin his defensive depth into help up front, a decision made easier with the expected growth of Stefan Elliott and Tyson Barrie, Sherman looked for a skill set that complemented the young talent Colorado already has at forward.

"We felt that Steve fit the profile of what we're trying to surround our team with," Sherman said when we chatted on Wednesday. "He's a versatile player, that's an obvious attribute he brings to the ice."

And now, Colorado has options. Not just as the trade deadline closes in but as Sherman looks to take the next step in building the Avalanche this summer.