Short-handed Colorado Avalanche add defensive depth, acquire Josh Manson, 30, from Anaheim Ducks

The Colorado Avalanche made the first major move ahead of next week's NHL trade deadline, acquiring Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson on Monday in exchange for unsigned prospect Drew Helleson and a 2023 second-round draft pick.

The two teams made the announcement on social media Monday night.

Manson, 30, is a pending unrestricted free agent who had drawn interest from several clubs. Anaheim retained 50% of Manson's $4.1 million cap hit in the transaction. While the Ducks are only three points out of a playoff spot, given Manson's age and Anaheim being in rebuilding mode, it was unlikely he factored into the plans for new general manager Pat Verbeek.

Helleson, 20, was a second-round pick in 2019 and is currently playing for Boston College. The right-shot defenseman just had the most productive season of his collegiate career as a junior, netting four goals and 25 points in 31 games. He was also part of Team USA's 2021 world juniors roster that won gold and just represented the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics.

Colorado has been near the top of the league standings all season and is eyeing not only the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but a long playoff run ahead. The team recently announced defenseman Samuel Girard will be sidelined four weeks by injury, opening the door for Manson. The veteran projects to slide into the Avalanche's top-four rotation as a stay-at-home defender who can add some physicality to complement Colorado's finesse.

The trade deadline is March 21.