The Colorado Avalanche have one of the most impressive cores in the entire NHL. Nathan MacKinnon leads the way, dominating his opposition as a legitimate Hart Trophy contender. Cale Makar is one of the best young defensemen in the league. He is certainly among the best offensive blueliners in the game today. And you can't forget about Mikko Rantanen and Devon Toews, either.

Colorado has an incredible collection of talent. At the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline, however, they could add another piece to this puzzle. The Avalanche could find themselves active on the trade front ahead of the March 8th deadline. And it may come as a necessity given their standing in the Central Division.

The Central Division is rather competitive in 2023-24. Currently, the Avalanche find themselves in third place with 79 points. Ahead of them are the Dallas Stars and the Winnipeg Jets, who each have 83 points. Both teams have made important trades. Dallas received Chris Tanev from the Calgary Flames, while Winnipeg picked up Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens.

Like both those teams, Colorado certainly has a major need of their own. And with the NHL Trade Deadline just days away, now is the time to strike. Here is the fatal flaw the Avalanche must fix by March 8 if they want to strengthen their roster for the playoff push to come.

Fixing a failed experiment

Colorado Avalanche center Ryan Johansen (12) celebrates his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at United Center.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche made a move to address their need for a second-line center over the summer. They traded for Ryan Johansen from the Nashville Predators. Colorado was making a bet on the veteran center iceman. Johansen played just 55 games in 2022-23, scoring 12 goals and 28 points.

Over a full 82 games, that's a 42-point pace. It certainly was a down season for the 31-year-old Vancouver native. But it was a down season that the Avalanche hoped he could bounce back from. Especially if he could remain healthy in 2023-24. Unfortunately, things just haven't worked out as hoped.

Johansen has remained healthy this season. In fact, he is one of just four players to have played every game for Colorado this season. However, he has 13 goals and 23 points on the year. Over a full 82 games, this is merely a 30-point pace. A drop-off from what we saw from him a season ago.

The Avalanche have given Ross Colton a shot at playing second-line center. He is on pace for a career season, to be fair. The former Tampa Bay Lightning forward has 13 goals and 31 points this season. His previous career highs are 22 goals and 39 points from the 2021-22 season, to put it in perspective.

At the end of the day though, Colorado needs a more bona fide second-line center. The massive drop off in offensive production from Nathan MacKinnon to Ross Colton and Ryan Johansen is their fatal flaw. And this is something the team needs to address at the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline.

There certainly are options out there for the Avs. Colorado could take an interest in Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton, for instance. Another name to keep an eye on is Anaheim Ducks veteran Adam Henrique. They could also reunite with Arizona Coyotes forward Alex Kerfoot, who began his career in Denver.

Either way, the Avalanche need to address their center depth ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. Center depth is certainly important in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And it gives the team an injection of offensive firepower if they acquire the right player. Let's see what the Avalanche do between now and March 8.