Duncan Siemens

First rounder round-up: Landeskog, Siemens, and Miller sign entry-level deals

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Both the Colorado Avalanche and the New York Rangers did a little planning for the future today as they signed their 2011 first round draft picks to entry-level deals. Colorado signed 2nd overall pick Gabriel Landeskog and 11th overall pick Duncan Siemens to three-year entry-level deals worth $832,500 per season and $277,500 signing bonus per RDS reporter Renaud P Lavoie. Likewise, the Rangers were able to reach an agreement with their first round selection, 15th overall JT Miller. Terms of Miller’s deal have not been released, but like Landeskog and Siemens, it’s a three-year entry-level deal.

Signing an entry-level deal is only the first step for three players who are traveling very different paths. Both Landeskog and Siemens will head to Colorado’s training camp in September, but the organization and fans have different expectations for the two prospects.

Duncan Siemens will get the opportunity to go through his first NHL training camp, but it would be shocking if he stayed with the big club this season. More than likely, the defenseman will head back to the Saskatoon Blades to continue his development at the junior level. Last season, Siemens had 5 goals, 38 assists, and 121 PIMs with an extremely talented Blades team. Stay-at-home defenders usually take a little longer to fully develop their game and Siemens is no different. If he can continue to add muscle and round out his offensive game over the next few years, he’ll be a nice addition to the Avalanche blueline.

On the other hand, Landeskog will have every chance to make the NHL out of training camp. Entering the draft, the Swedish left-winger was widely regarded as the “most NHL ready” player in the entire draft. His leadership and high-end skill should help him make the transition sooner rather than later. But there’s another factor that will help push Landeskog into the NHL next season: his cap hit. No, not because he has a rookie salary that is relatively cheap; because his approximate $3.75 million cap hit will help the Avs hit the cap floor. Adrian Dater has the specifics of the two Colorado contracts:

“Both players’ base salaries — if they make the Avs’ roster this coming season — will be $925,000. But their salary cap number would be considerably higher. In Landeskog’s case, he’ll have a $3.575 million cap hit if he makes the team — with his base salary, an $850,000 signing bonus and $1.8 million in other potential bonuses built into the contract. Siemens has a similar deal, but exact figures beyond the base salary were not available.”

For the Rangers, their first round prospect JT Miller has still a different path than Siemens and Landeskog. The 18-year-old spent last season with the U.S. Under-18 team before signing his entry-level deal today. Originally slated for the University of North Dakota, Miller de-committed in favor of the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. The gritty forward that loves to throw the body will continue to improve his overall game in the OHL over the next few years. If he can improve his skating, he could end up as a valuable player creating energy and chipping in some points for the Rangers.

Signing entry-level deals is only the first step for all of these prospects who have plenty of pro potential. If they play this season in juniors, the three-year contracts will be delayed and the clock will not start ticking on their deals. The next step is for each player to continue developing and fulfilling all of the promise that will have both the Rangers and Avalanche organizations excited for years to come.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.