With the news coming yesterday that Avalanche forward Peter Mueller would be out indefinitely thanks to receiving a concussion during a pre-season game the other night, the Avs are potentially in the hunt for a replacement. While there’s not too much left going on with the free agent wire, scouting for trade possibilities could be in the best interests of the Avalanche front office if they’re unsure of when the now concussion susceptible Mueller will be out.
One team jumps out immediately for readily-available help and The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater starts sniffing around heavily at the New Jersey Devils to see what they could offer Colorado.
The Devils have three forwards who are definitely available and whom the team would probably dearly love to move. They are former Av Brian Rolston, Jamie Langenbrunner and Dainius Zubrus. While I loved Rolston as a player in Boston and Minnesota, he is coming off a terrible first year in Jersey after signing a huge contract (he’s got two years left on a deal with a $5.062 million cap hit). He’s also 35. His age and contract make it highly, highly improbable the Avs would even think of trying to get him back. But he is a left winger who is capable of good hockey I believe, and the Avs have tons of cap room.
Still, assuming Rolston is a no-go, Langenbrunner and Zubrus are possibilities. Neither really fits in with the “Young Guns, rebuild with youth (and do it on the cheap)” new philosophy of Avs management. But the Avs can’t live in this dream world of doing it with kids all the time, when injuries strike. Sometimes you need some quick veteran help, and these two could give some.
We’ve talked a lot about the Devils and their need to shed salary as well as about who they’d be looking to deal, but Langenbrunner is the one guy that gets left out of the discussion and with good reason. Langenbrunner is the captain of the Devils and after going through a seemingly tumultuous year with former coach Jacques Lemaire has a clean slate to deal with in John MacLean.
Chances are that if anyone is going to be dangled to Colorado, Rolston will be the first and foremost discussed guy. Whether or not the Avs would want a guy making over $5 million on the cap for the next two seasons that could be on a fast downside of his career seems unlikely. Getting under the salary cap can create strange bedfellows, however, and if Peter Mueller is slated to be out for a while, Colorado and New Jersey make sense as potential trade partners.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: