Avalanche

Cal Foote, son of Avalanche legend Adam Foote, a likely first-round NHL draft pick
During a joyous occasion in 2001 at the Pepsi Center, Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote was being interviewed at his locker stall when 2-year-old Callan Foote approached his dad for a congratulatory hug. The interview continued, as did the hug. The Avs had just defeated the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and Adam Foote couldn’t let go of the moment with his first-born son. Sixteen years later, the former Avalanche captain will share a similar moment with Callan, who now goes by Cal. A 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman of his father’s ilk, Cal is all but certain to hear his name called in the first round of the NHL draft at the United Center in Chicago. He’s rated 12th among draft-eligible North American skaters, and third among defenseman. He is exactly what the Avalanche need — a possible franchise defenseman who is effective in all three zones — but probably not worthy of fourth overall, the Avs’ first pick. However, Cal is bound to be selected sooner than his father, who went No. 22 to the Quebec Nordiques in 1989. “I know both of my parents are going to be proud,” Cal said recently from Denver. “They’re going to be excited, like my brother and the rest of the family. I know they’re going to be excited about what lies ahead.” Cal, a product of the Littleton Hawks (Double-A) and Colorado Thunderbirds (Triple-A), recently completed his second season with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, and his first with younger brother Nolan Foote on the team. Nolan, a 16-year-old forward, was the Rockets’ youngest player who contributed 19 goals and 35 points in 52 games. Cal had 57 points (51 assists) in 71 games. “It was unreal. It was special for not only him and I, but my parents,” Cal said of playing with Nolan, a possible first-round NHL pick in 2019. “First time we’ve played hockey together. He had a great year and I’m excited for what he has to offer next year.” The Footes will likely play together in Kelowna again next season — unless the team that drafts Cal has different ideas. “My goal is to develop as much as I can and try to improve on my weaknesses and raise my game,” Cal said. “You want to make the next level as a kid but I might not be ready to make that jump. I want to be back in Kelowna; I’m excited for our year up there and playing with my brother again.” Adam Foote declined to talk about his son and the draft besides saying, “it’s Cal’s time and I’ve decided not to be interviewed by media until after he has been drafted.” Cal said he interviewed with all 31 teams, including the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, but didn’t meet with any team twice. With the Avalanche, he interviewed with general manager Joe Sakic’s advisors. Sakic wasn’t in the room, he said. “It was cool for me,” Foote said of his meeting with the Avalanche. “I grew up, obviously, a fan of them for many years. It was special to be in the room with them.” Foote is the latest NHL product of the Thunderbirds, who previously developed alums Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets), Jaccob Slavin (Carolina Hurricanes), Gustav Olofsson (Minnesota Wild) and Brandon Carlo (Boston Bruins). Thunderbirds director and 16-under coach Angelo Ricci, a former University of Denver forward, coached each of those players. “Cal has the potential to be right up there with all of those players,” Ricci said. “One thing I always continue to stress is all these young men didn’t rush the process. They each took their time and allowed the proper development process to work for them. It’s really great to see. I am so proud of these guys. And another special piece of it is all these guys have worn a ‘C’ or ‘A’ for me, which speaks volumes about their character.” Related ArticlesJune 19, 2017 NHL draft: Avalanche could trade No. 4 pick or choose another forward June 19, 2017 Analysis: Avalanche enters NHL’s crucial offseason stretch with significant needs June 18, 2017 Avalanche exposes Calvin Pickard to expansion Vegas Golden Knights June 15, 2017 NHL announces draft order; Avalanche has seven selections June 15, 2017 Paul Stastny, Kelly Cup to appear at Dawg Bowl VII hockey fundraising event Adam Foote coached both his boys with the Thunderbirds. “I remember watching the old Thunderbirds practices and seeing guys like Carlo out there,” Cal said. “He was always a guy I looked up to, especially being a late (month) birthday and going to the WHL. And I played with Slavin’s younger brother, Josiah, and (Jaccob) is obviously having a lot of success. It’s cool to see. And Olofsson, I got the chance to sk [...]
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NHL draft: Avalanche could trade No. 4 pick or choose another forward
Avalanche director of amateur scouting Alan Hepple said Monday that the team could trade the No. 4 overall pick for multiple picks if it does not select “the best available player” at that position at the first round of the NHL draft Friday in Chicago. Colorado, which finished with a league-low 48 points last season, is in a roster rebuild but an elite young defensemen is at the top of the needs list. Problem is, the draft’s highest-rated defensemen don’t appear worthy of the No. 4 overall pick. Right-shooting Cale Makar of Canada is the top North American defenseman but is rated ninth among North American prospects. Finland’s Miro Heiskanen, a lefty, is the top European defenseman, but No. 4 overall among his peers. The Avs, who have selected just two defensemen in the first round of the draft’s past 10 years, might trade down to select Makar or Miro Heiskanan — or even home-grown product Cal Foote of Englewood, who is No. 3 among North American defensemen and projected to go between picks 10 and 15. “There’s always a chance of trading back,” Hepple said. “We would have to see what we’re given, what’s presented to us, and we’ll take it from there. We’re ready for that scenario.” If Colorado keeps No. 4 in the first round, it could be a forward for the fifth consecutive year. The Avs’ last four first-rounders were forwards Tyson Jost (No. 10, 2016), Mikko Rantanen (No. 10, 2015), Connor Bleackley (No. 23, 2014) and Nathan MacKinnon (No. 1, 2013). The Avs didn’t have a 2012 first-round pick and their last first-round defenseman was Duncan Siemens in 2011 (No. 11). Siemens has played just four NHL games. “At the time of that fourth pick, it will be the best player available,” Hepple said. “And you know what? There could be a D gone before then. So we’ll just have to see.” Foote, a right-handed shooter, is the eldest son of former Avalanche defenseman and team captain Adam Foote. Cal is 6-foot-4 and nearly 200 pounds, with a size-16 shoe. He played with the triple-A Colorado Thunderbirds before choosing the major-junior route and the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. “We’ve got a good book on Cal, from his dad and things like that,” Hepple said of the younger Foote. “We know a lot about him. He’s gotten better over the last two, three years and he’s going to keep (developing). His skating’s got to (improve) but he’s big enough, smart enough and a good puck-mover. Like I said, we know him very well.” Wherever Foote is drafted, he’ll likely return to Kelowna next season. But if the Avs keep the No. 4 pick, the player they select has a chance to play in the NHL immediately. “There’s always pressure in that first round. We want that guy to play, we want that guy to be somebody to come in and make an impact,” Hepple said. “It might not be right away. But definitely down the road. … There’s a development time to those guys. We want smart players, we want fast players. The NHL now, it’s a track meet every night. It’s fast. And not only do you have to skate fast, you gotta think fast. That’s what we’re looking for now.” The Avs have seven total picks, including the first selection in rounds 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 on Saturday at the United Center. They traded their third-round pick to New Jersey for defenseman Eric Gelinas on Feb. 29, 2016. Colorado obtained the 21st pick of the fourth round (114th) from the New York Rangers a year ago for defenseman Nick Holden. [...]
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Avalanche exposes Calvin Pickard to expansion Vegas Golden Knights
In advance of Wednesday’s NHL expansion draft in Las Vegas, the league announced each team’s protected list Sunday morning. The Avalanche protected 11 players, including goalie Semyon Varlamov, and left the likes of goalie Calvin Pickard, forward Mikhail Grigorenko and defenseman Mark Barbario available to the Vegas Golden Knights. Each team will lose one player to the Knights. In alphabetical order according to position, the Avs protected forwards Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto; defensemen Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson and Nikita Zadorov; and Varlamov in net. Varlamov, who was traded from Washington to Colorado in 2011 by Vegas general manager George McPhee, the former Capitals’ GM, is coming off two surgeries to his groin/hip area and his save percentage has declined the past three seasons, going from .921 to .914 to .898. He is under contract for the next two seasons, at a $5.9 million cap hit. Related ArticlesJune 15, 2017 NHL announces draft order; Avalanche has seven selections June 15, 2017 Paul Stastny, Kelly Cup to appear at Dawg Bowl VII hockey fundraising event June 15, 2017 Avalanche removes Francois Beauchemin from roster with buyout June 14, 2017 Colorado Eagles in discussions to become the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate June 13, 2017 Avalanche not identifying players protected from NHL expansion draft Protecting Varlamov, 29, over Pickard, 25, could be simply a show of support for the veteran goalie, because it is believed McPhee has no interest in working with the Russian for another time in a different city. Pickard isn’t considered a bona fide NHL starting goalie, but a highly serviceable backup and outstanding teammate. The Golden Knights also are expected to select goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fleury is under contract at $5.75 million over the next two seasons, and that’s another reason why Vegas won’t consider Varlamov. It is highly doubtful the Knights would choose two goalies with a combined cap hit of nearly $12 million through 2018-19. First- and second-year players and unsigned prospects are exempt from the expansion draft. So up-and-coming Avs players Mikko Rantanen, Tyson Jost and Andrei Mironov, among others, are not in Wednesday’s picture. Here’s a complete list of Colorado’s unprotected players: forwards Troy Bourke, Gabriel Bourque, Rene Bourque, Joe Colborne, Turner Elson, Felix Girard, Grigorenko, Samuel Henley, John Mitchell, Jim O’Brien, Brendan Ranford, Mike Sislo, Carl Soderberg; defensemen Barberio, Mat Clark, Eric Gelinas, Cody Goloubef, Duncan Siemens, Fedor Tyutin, Patrick Wiercioch, Joe Cannata; goalies Pickard, Jeremy Smith. [...]
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NHL salary cap set at $75 million for 2017-18 season
NEW YORK — The NHL salary cap has been set at $75 million for this season in a slight increase over last year. The league and NHL Players’ Association announced the cap and the salary floor of $55.4 million in a joint statement Sunday. The figures are set by the league’s hockey-related revenue. It’s an increase of $2 million from the $73 million cap last season, as players elected to use their escalator clause to raise it. Even a slight increase can help several teams that are up against the cap, like the Chicago Blackhawks and Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals. For budget teams, the floor increased just $1.4 million from $54 million. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights must spend at least to the salary floor in their first season. [...]
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Colorado Eagles in discussions to become the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate
The Avalanche might move its primary minor-league interests from San Antonio to less than an hour drive north of Denver, to Loveland, joining forces with the Colorado Eagles, who could become the Avs’ American Hockey League affiliate as early as 2018-19. The Eagles, the Avs’ current ECHL affiliate who recently won the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions, are mulling opportunities for AHL membership, according to president and general manager Chris Stewart, and hoping to increase their partnership with Colorado’s NHL team. The ECHL is considered Double-A, a level below the AHL. “There have been some discussions,” Stewart said of Eagles’ AHL venture with the Avalanche. “Obviously, the proximity and logistics, there’s a lot of sense for an affiliation that could possibly take us to the American Hockey League. I can’t confirm anything at this point, by any means, because there are way too many moving parts.” The Eagles’ AHL opportunity became available because of the NHL expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who will share the AHL’s Chicago Wolves with the St. Louis Blues in 2017-18 before the Blues sign elsewhere. There will be 31 NHL teams next season, but just 30 AHL teams. St. Louis could conceivably replace the Avalanche as the San Antonio Rampage’s parent team in 2018-19. The Avs will continue to place their top prospects in San Antonio for the upcoming season, and beyond if the deal with the Eagles doesn’t work out. Because the Avs remain under contract with the Rampage, they declined to comment about the Eagles and the AHL. “We are interested. The Avalanche has some interest,” Stewart said of the possible AHL relationship. “Whether or not that works with their San Antonio agreement or not, I don’t know. Like I said, there are a lot of moving parts. But we would want that affiliate at another level.” He added: “When you’re talking with the NHL, and especially the Avalanche, which has done so much for the good of hockey in the state of Colorado, I don’t want to step out of line. We’re very respectful of the Avalanche and what they’ve done for hockey, and the Eagles, as hockey continues to grow in this state.” The Eagles play at the 5,289-seat Budweiser Events Center, a county-owned facility, and have sold out 431 home games in 14 seasons. The Budweiser Events Center opened in 2003 and seats 7,200 for concerts but just 5,289 for hockey. The Hershey Bears led the AHL in attendance this past season with an average of 9,309, but 18 teams averaged just less than 6,000. Related ArticlesJune 15, 2017 Paul Stastny, Kelly Cup to appear at Dawg Bowl VII hockey fundraising event June 5, 2017 Colorado Eagles sweep South Carolina Stingrays to win first Kelly Cup May 25, 2017 Luke Salazar is back skating in his home state, seeking ECHL title with Colorado Eagles May 24, 2017 Avalanche prospects helped Colorado Eagles reach the upcoming ECHL Finals “I don’t believe that the AHL would accept the building as it sits today,” Stewart said of the Eagles’ arena. “I’m not just talking about seats. The facility in general, the locker rooms, I do think there would have to be some mitigation done to the building to help facilitate an American Hockey League franchise if we went in that direction.” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic and AHL commissioner David Andrews attended Eagles home games last season. “People saw those gentlemen there, watching the game,” Stewart said. “They’re public figures, and there with a sharp, keen eye, wanting to see how we presented the game. They liked it, from what everything they had to say to myself and (Eagles owner) Martin Lind. We love to put on a good show and our fans are electrifying. They really bring energy into that building every night.” [...]
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Avalanche removes Francois Beauchemin from roster with buyout
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin will not return to the Avalanche next season. The team announced Thursday morning it will buy out the final year of the 37-year-old’s $4.5 million annual contract, with no salary-cap benefit for 2017-18. The move opens a roster spot and allows Colorado to protect another player from next week’s expansion draft. Beauchemin had a no-move clause, automatically putting him on the protected list. According to TSN hockey journalist Pierre LeBrun, Beauchemin’s agent Bob Sauve said the Avs never asked the player to waive his NMC for the expansion draft. Beauchemin spent two seasons with the Avs after being acquired from Anaheim as an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2015. He had 34 points (eight goals) in 2015-16 but slipped to 18 points (five goals) last season. He played in 163 of a possible 164 games for Colorado and was named alternate captain by first-year coach Jared Bednar last season. Because Beauchmin is over age 35, the Avs cannot spread out a buyout benefit, thus his $4.5 million salary will count against the team’s cap next season. However, the team only owes Beauchemin on a two-thirds ratio, $3 million, and will pay it in $1.5 million increments next season and in 2018-19, according to CapFriendly.com. The same situation unfolded last season with defenseman Brad Stuart, whose entire $3.6 million salary counted against the cap after the Avs bought out then then-36-year-old. For next Wednesday’s expansion draft in Las Vegas, the Avalanche will protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender or eight combined forwards/defensemen and a goalie. All first- and second-year players are exempt, along with unsigned prospects. Colorado is bound to protect defensemen Erik Johnson (NMC), Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov, and possibly Mark Barbario if it goes the 8/1 route. Related ArticlesJune 15, 2017 NHL announces draft order; Avalanche has seven selections June 15, 2017 Paul Stastny, Kelly Cup to appear at Dawg Bowl VII hockey fundraising event June 14, 2017 Colorado Eagles in discussions to become the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate June 13, 2017 Avalanche not identifying players protected from NHL expansion draft June 13, 2017 Lunch Special: What is Matt Duchene’s future with the Avalanche? [...]
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Buffalo Sabres hire Phil Housley as head coach
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Phil Housley began his Hall of Fame playing career in Buffalo. It is also where he will open his NHL head-coaching career after being hired by the Sabres on Thursday. Housley’s hiring completes an offseason overhaul for the Sabres in replacing coach Dan Bylsma, who was fired along with general manager Tim Murray in April. He represents the first significant move made by first-time general manager Jason Botterill, who took over the job last month. Housley takes over a team that stagnated under Murray in extended its franchise-worst playoff drought to six seasons. With a 33-37-12 record, Buffalo finished last in the Atlantic Division, 26th overall, and with two fewer wins than last season. Related ArticlesJune 16, 2017 Looming expansion draft turns up trade chatter around NHL June 15, 2017 NHL announces draft order; Avalanche has seven selections June 15, 2017 Jonathan Drouin traded by Lightning to Canadiens for Mikhail Sergachev June 14, 2017 650,000 fans at parade cheer Penguins for Stanley Cup win June 14, 2017 Colorado Eagles in discussions to become the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate Housley has spent the past four years as an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators. He is credited for overseeing a highly skilled and speedy group of defensemen that helped Nashville make its first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. Botterill was forced to place his coaching search on hold to wait for the Predators’ season to end, which came with a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday in Game 6. “Based on his experience as a player and coach, we think Phil is uniquely qualified to be our head coach and help us achieve our organizational goals,” Botterill said in a statement released by the team before a late-afternoon news conference. “His approach to the game aligns with the way we envision our hockey team playing, and we’re excited to see where his leadership will take us.” It’s a home coming for Housley, who was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 1982 draft by Buffalo and spent his first eight of his 21 NHL seasons playing for the Sabres. He also had a connection to Botterill from their playing days. Though Botterill was mostly a minor-league journeyman, he and Housley both played for the Calgary Flames from 1999-2001. Housley has head-coaching experience but not at the NHL level. He was head coach of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2013 World Junior championships. Starting in 2004, Housley spent nine seasons coaching Stillwater Area High School in his native Minnesota. As a player, Housley’s 1,232 career points (338 goals and 894 assists) rank third among American-born players and fourth among all NHL defensemen. [...]
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Paul Stastny, Kelly Cup to appear at Dawg Bowl VII hockey fundraising event
Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation’s Dawg Bowl VII is a week away (June 22-25) at The Edge Ice Arena in Littleton. The 42-team hockey tournament includes the Mainline West Top Dawgs — a top-tiered team exclusively consisting of current and former professional players — and a smorgasbord of off-ice activities to benefit Front Range hockey families in need. The free public event raised a record $140,000 (before expenses) last June and the generous folks at Dawg Nation are looking to exceed that this year. Photo provided by Heather KarasHeather Karas, widow of Jeff Karas, a former Littleton Hawks and Colorado Select hockey coach, hoists Dawg Nation’s women’s division championship trophy with Butch Mousseau’s widow Macaire Mousseau. Jeff Karas died of leukemia in 2013 and Butch Mousseau of head trauma in March. The Avalanche, Colorado Eagles and DU Pioneers are among Dawg Nation’s most affluent supporters, and NHL teams such as the Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers have donated signed sweaters and other auction items. The Colorado Eagles are expected to have the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions on hand, and one of the biggest silent auction items will be a team-signed/framed Denver Pioneers’ NCAA championship sweater. Last year, one of the top-tiered teams featured a quarter of DU’s team, including Highlands Ranch’s Troy Terry. The Top Dawgs include former Avalanche players Paul Stastny (playing Friday only), Brett Clark and Aaron MacKenzie, along with Eagles captain Sean Zimmerman and veteran Eagles forward Darryl Bootland, a 2000 Avalanche draft pick. Their games are Friday, June 24 at 6:50 p.m., Saturday, June 25 at 11:20 a.m. and 7:10 or 8 p.m. There will be a sled hockey game Saturday between members of the U.S. national team and others, plus the Survivor Game featuring the ceremonial puck drop by Flight for Life crash survivor Dave Repsher. If you love the game, you will love this event. For more information, click here.  [...]
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Jonathan Drouin traded by Lightning to Canadiens for Mikhail Sergachev
The Tampa Bay Lightning got the young defenseman they have been looking for in Mikhail Sergachev, even though it cost them highly skilled forward Jonathan Drouin. Tampa Bay acquired the soon-to-be 19-year-old Sergachev from the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday in a trade that checks off one box on general manager Steve Yzerman’s offseason checklist and could provide short- and long-term benefits. Dealing Drouin helps the Lightning ahead of the Vegas expansion draft and in their tight salary-cap situation, and adding Sergachev potentially strengthens their blue line for the next decade. “Our biggest need and our biggest goal was to acquire a puck-moving young defenseman, and we were able to do that,” Yzerman said on a conference call. “We wanted this type of game that Sergachev plays: an offensive defenseman, big, strong, good skater, moves the puck well. We were looking for that type of player and we were able to find a fit.” Related ArticlesJune 15, 2017 NHL announces draft order; Avalanche has seven selections June 15, 2017 Buffalo Sabres hire Phil Housley as head coach June 14, 2017 650,000 fans at parade cheer Penguins for Stanley Cup win June 14, 2017 Colorado Eagles in discussions to become the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate June 13, 2017 Avalanche not identifying players protected from NHL expansion draft Along with Sergachev, Tampa Bay got a conditional 2018 second-round pick that previously belonged to Washington and Montreal a 2018 conditional sixth-rounder. Yzerman said the condition is that if Sergachev plays 40 NHL games between the regular season and playoffs next season, no picks are exchanged. That’s an insurance policy on the Lightning’s part if Sergachev needs another year of seasoning in junior. If he’s ready now, even better. “We think we’re getting a young defenseman that’s going to have an impact in the NHL for a long time,” Yzerman said. “Whether that’s this year or two years from now, time will tell. I think he’s going to be a good player in the league for a long time.” In parts of three seasons with the Lightning, Drouin already showed he could adapt to the pro game. The 22-year-old set career highs last season with 21 goals, 32 assists and 53 points and has 95 points in 164 career games. Hours after the trade, the Canadiens signed Drouin to a $33 million, six-year contract that means he will count $5.5 million against the salary cap through 2022-23. Agent Allan Walsh said, “It’s his childhood dream to play for the Montreal Canadiens.” “It’s just really surreal,” Drouin said at a news conference in Montreal. “I’m still kind of in shock that it actually happened.” Drouin had a rocky tenure with the Lighting since being the third pick in 2013, asking for a trade in 2015-16 and coming back to play a prominent role this past season in the absence of injured captain Steven Stamkos. Asked about trading Drouin within the Atlantic Division, Yzerman said there’s risk in every trade but was doing what’s best for the Lightning and wishes his former player all the best in Montreal. Yzerman colored this as a need-for-need hockey trade. “We were looking for a defenseman, and we had to give up a forward to do that,” Yzerman said. “Ultimately Jonathan’s an extremely talented young man. I expect he’s going to have a long and successful career.” While it wasn’t the central goal of the deal, trading Drouin means Tampa Bay can protect an extra forward in the expansion draft and has more salary-cap space moving forward with other players in need of new deals. Previously, the Lightning would have potentially had to expose either Vladislav Namestnikov or Alex Killorn and can now keep them away from the expansion Golden Knights. They could lose a defenseman, perhaps Braydon Coburn or Jason Garrison, but Sergachev is exempt. “We were able to acquire a player that we do not have to protect,” Yzerman said. “It gives us a little more clarity there.” Chris O'Meara, The Associated PressTampa Bay Lightning’s Jonathan Drouin celebrates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference finals Friday, May 20, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. Sergachev was the ninth pick in the 2016 draft and is just beginning his entry-level contract with a cost-controlled cap hit of $1.74 million for the next three years. Considered one of the top defensive prospects in hockey, the Russian had 10 goals and 33 assists for 43 points with the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires this past season and was a point-a-game player as they won the Memorial Cup. “He’s got good size, heR [...]
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NHL announces draft order; Avalanche has seven selections
The NHL on Thursday announced the official order of selection for next week’s draft at the United Center in Chicago. The two-day draft will begin with the first round Friday, June 23 at 5 p.m. (NBCSN). Rounds 2-7 are Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. (NHL Network). Barring trades, the Avalanche will make seven selections. Colorado will pick fourth in the first round and first in Rounds 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7. The Avs, who finished with the NHL’s fewest points last season, traded their third-round pick to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Eric Gelinas on Feb. 29, 2016. Gelinas, 26, finished last season in the minors and is not expected to be given a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. 2017 Avalanche draft positions First round: No. 4 (fourth overall) Second round: No. 1 (32nd) Fourth round: No. 1 (94th) Fourth round: No. 21 (114th) (Obtained from NYR for D Nick Holden) Fifth round: No. 1 (125th) Sixth round: No. 1 (156th) Seventh round: No. 1 (187th) [...]
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650,000 fans at parade cheer Penguins for Stanley Cup win
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup championship, the first an NHL team has won back to back in almost 20 years, spawned by far the biggest victory parade of any of the franchise’s five titles. An estimated 650,000 people turned out along a downtown parade route that ended with a rally at Point State Park, city public works and public safety officials said Wednesday. A sunny day with temperatures in the 80s didn’t hurt, as the smell of sunscreen was as pungent as the Penguins’ love in a city that boasts, officially, only 305,000 residents. “These guys are fierce competitors,” coach Mike Sullivan told the crowd from a stage in the triangular park formed by the confluence of the city’s three rivers. “They just know how to win.” Roughly 400,000 fans attended last year’s celebration, which was the biggest for any of the team’s Stanley Cup championships to that point. The Penguins won the cup Sunday against the Nashville Predators with a 2-0 win in Game 6. And judging from signs and chants from the crowd, this championship was sweetened by the adversity the team overcame. Playoff MVP and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was knocked out for the better part of two games with a concussion against the Washington Capitals, and the Penguins played without their best defenseman, Kris Letang, who had neck surgery before the playoffs. As the players took the stage to PPG Paints Arena announcer Ryan Mill’s introductions, fans also learned that Ian Cole, another defenseman, played through a broken hand and broken ribs. And Brian Bonino, who broke his leg blocking a shot but still finished Game 2 of the finals before missing the rest, hobbled around on crutches while taking selfies with fans. A couple of bittersweet story lines punctuated the festivities: 40-year-old veteran Matt Cullen, who has won two Cups since joining the Penguins as a free agent last season, has hinted he might retire, prompting fans to chant, “One more year!” And, perhaps the best story of the playoffs was how former starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury regained that job when rookie Matt Murray was injured during warm-ups in the first game of the playoffs. Fleury was in net for nine of the 16 victories the Penguins needed to win the Cup before Murray returned from injury to replace Fleury after a shaky third-round game against Ottawa and was in net for Pittsburgh’s final seven playoff wins. Fleury, one of the most popular Penguins with fans and teammates, is likely to leave when the new Las Vegas franchise drafts its players or in an offseason trade. Phil Kessel, another fan favorite since the Penguins acquired him from Toronto two seasons ago, drew some of the biggest cheers. Fan Kristen Pearce, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, drove down to honor Kessel, a Wisconsin native, and was lucky enough to have him autograph her jersey and her sign, which read, “We drove from Wisconsin to see our Stanley Cup champion!” Some fans lined up the night before, and most waited several hours for the parade to start. Karla and Don Donahue drove 30 miles from Freeport to claim their seats in Point State Park at 2:30 a.m. This was the third victory parade for the Donahues, who also attended in 2009 and 2016. Karla Donahue said if they aren’t at the games they’re watching on TV. “If we’re somewhere else, it’s on the radio,” she said. “We haven’t missed a game in years.” The Penguins also won the Cup in 1991 and 1992. They became the first team to repeat as champions since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998. [...]
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Avalanche not identifying players protected from NHL expansion draft
Unlike many NHL teams, the Avs on Tuesday declined to identify the players they will protect for the June 21 expansion draft. Each team will lose one player to the Golden Knights, and each team can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender; or eight combined forwards/defenseman and a goaltender. All first- and second-year players — such as Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost — as well as all unsigned draft picks, are exempt from selection. Veteran players with a no-movement clauses, such as Avs defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson, must go on his team’s protected list — unless they wave their NMC. An Avs spokesman Tuesday said the team won’t say if it has asked any of its players to waive their NMC. [...]
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A Stanley Cup hat trick? The Penguins’ stars could light the way to a three-peat.
By Isabelle Khurshudyan, The Washington Post NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the first day of training camp, Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan addressed this Pittsburgh team’s long odds. It had been nearly two decades since any NHL team repeated as a Stanley Cup champion, and it had never happened in the salary cap era. Even the Chicago Blackhawks, three-time winners with a core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith hadn’t managed to win in back-to-back years. But Sullivan didn’t see a reason why the Penguins couldn’t do it, especially considering the roster experienced little turnover from the 2016 championship team. Seeds of doubt could’ve been planted when injuries piled up, particularly the loss of top defenseman Kris Letang. But after the Penguins made history with a no-name blue line that is arguably the least impressive to ever win a Stanley Cup, Pittsburgh has shown anything is possible. So, will Sullivan give next season’s Pittsburgh team the same spiel and use the possibility of a three-peat as motivation? “I don’t know, we’ve got to rethink that,” Sullivan said. “We’ll probably sit in the summertime and try to figure out a way to inspire this group again.” Sullivan said that entering this season, he and his coaching staff predicted some of the challenges Pittsburgh would have in its repeat bid, starting with a short offseason after playing until mid-June. To go along with that, several Penguins players participated in the World Cup of Hockey before the season. As the reigning champions, Pittsburgh was also a team that got its opponent’s best effort in every game. Letang’s neck injury then left the team without one of the league’s best offensive defensemen and forced the Penguins to go with a blue-line-by-committee approach in the playoffs. There have been five three-peats in NHL history, and the last team to do so was the New York Islanders, when they won four titles in a row from 1980 to 1983. According to Bovada, the Penguins are early favorites to win again next season with 9-1 odds. The main characters will stay the same with captain Sidney Crosby, center Evgeni Malkin, Letang and winger Phil Kessel. But 12 players are up for new contracts with six players entering unrestricted free agency. Bruce Bennett, Getty ImagesThe Pittsburgh Penguins pose for a group photo with the Stanley Cup Trophy after they defeated the Nashville Predators 2-0 in Game Six of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Bridgestone Arena on June 11, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. Chris Kunitz, a three-time Stanley Cup-champion, seems unlikely to be back at 37 years old. This also likely marked 40-year-old center Matt Cullen’s last NHL game. Center Nick Bonino may also depart in free agency, leaving the Penguins with considerable holes in their bottom-six, a strength of the team’s balanced lineup. Carter Rowney played regularly this postseason, and young center Oskar Sundqvist could also be in line for a bigger role. Rookie forward Jake Guentzel, who led Pittsburgh in goal-scoring this postseason, played half of the year in the American Hockey League, and he’ll likely get a regular NHL role next season. On the blue line, Pittsburgh could lose Trevor Daley, who averaged more than 20 minutes per game this season. The goaltending tandem will see change with Marc-Andre Fleury reportedly agreeing to waive his no-move clause for the expansion draft so that the Penguins can protect 23-year-old starter Matt Murray. Related ArticlesJune 12, 2017 DU Pioneers, defending NCAA hockey champions, finalize incoming freshman class June 12, 2017 Sidney Crosby’s leadership helps Penguins’ youngsters succeed June 11, 2017 Penguins end Predators magical postseason run June 11, 2017 Penguins win 2nd straight Stanley Cup, beat Predators in Game 6 June 10, 2017 Predators leaning on Pekka Rinne to force Penguins back to Pittsburgh “You know, when we went to the Final in 2008 and then won in 2009, then you think that we’re going to do this a lot,” Fleury said. “All of this time in-between, it was tough and it was frustrating to not bring another championship, you know? But I think we learned from that. I’m glad we still had the same group of guys altogether.” Any three-peat bid would feature a slightly altered core, one that now includes Murray and young forwards Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust. But if Pittsburgh could repeat this season with a banged-up roster and one of the hardest paths to the final series, the Penguins have earned the right to be considered favorites again next season, when the team could cement its status as one of the NHL’s great dynasties. “I’m sure down the road, people will look back and put us wherever they want to put us, [...]
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