Matt Duchene wants John Tavares money for his second contract

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Matt Duchene will probably be compared to John Tavares for the rest of his NHL career.

That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to year-by-year draft debates. While the New York Islanders took Tavares with the first pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Duchene shot up the ranks to become the third pick – and second forward/center – to be chosen when Colorado nabbed him.

From that day forward, Duchene and Tavares will be linked like Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin and many other draft day pairings. (I’m guess that no one will waste much time with the Alexandre Daigle-Chris Pronger debate, though.)

Two very different centers with remarkably similar results

If there’s one thing that distinguishes Duchene – at least in my mind – it’s his blazing speed. Those dynamic wheels were on display during the 2011 NHL All-Star Game when Nicklas Lidstrom fed him with a beautiful lead pass as Duchene scored a downright pretty breakaway goal.

On the other hand, Tavares is known for producing impressive offense despite a lack of high-end skating ability. He has a knack for finding ways to score goals with his high hockey IQ, great hands and overall imagination.

Despite key distinctions, the two forwards produce remarkably similar results. Duchene has a slight edge in overall points (51 goals, 122 points) while Tavares scored a couple extra goals (53 goals, 121 points). With those nearly identical numbers in mind, Duchene wants other figures to be in line: their second contract salaries. That would mean something in the range of Tavares’ six-year, $33 million deal.

Duchene told The Denver Post that he isn’t worried about the situation, though.

“If I take care of business, that’s a reward. That’s not something that you aim for. It’s not a destination. It’s a byproduct,” he said matter of factly.

(snip)

“J.T. and I are pretty close. I didn’t talk to J.T. about it, but I talked to our agent, Pat Brisson, about it, and we weren’t sure what was going to happen right after he signed, whether it was going to be potentially something for me, but I didn’t really care either way,” Duchene said. “I love playing the game and the money is obviously nice, but I’ve never let that be a distraction for me. Not once. I’m not worried about it whatsoever.”

The Tavares contract might be a lofty comparison, but it could be worse

For those who believe that Duchene doesn’t have the same high-end potential as Tavares, $5.5 million per year might seem like a scary figure. To some extent, it is.

That being said, the Avalanche would be better off if Brisson and Duchene use Tavares as a comparable rather than one of Duchene’s teammates. If the Duchene camp takes the approach that Drew Doughty’s did with Anze Kopitar in regards to Paul Stastny’s $6.6 million per year rate, then cash-conscious Colorado could have reason for concern.

***

Interestingly enough, both the Avalanche and Islanders have reason to believe that 2011-12 will be far different than cellar-dwelling seasons in 10-11. Colorado might want to follow the Isles’ lead in wrapping up their budding star center, although the Avs’ situation isn’t as simple because of certain commitments.

Either way, Duchene will get his numbers – both in points and salary – so the big question for each concern is “How much?”

The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight, here are the odds for every team and TV information

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Saturday night is going to be a big night for the 14 NHL teams that did not qualify for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs because one of them will be the lucky winner of the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, giving them the No. 1 pick in the draft.

While there probably isn’t going to be a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews at the top of this year’s class, the top-two prospects (Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier) both have huge potential.

The Colorado Avalanche, owners of the NHL’s worst record in 2016-17, have the best odds at winning the lottery. The Avalanche last selected first overall in 2013 when they picked Nathan MacKinnon. New York Islanders have a less than one percent chance of winning.

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights have a 10.3 percent chance of winning the top pick.

Here is everything you need to know about tonight’s lottery

When: 8 p.m. ET, just prior to faceoff of Game 2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals second-round playoff series

TV: NBC

Odds for every team in the lottery:

Colorado Avalanche — 18.0%

Vancouver Canucks — 12.1%

Vegas Golden Knights — 10.3%

Arizona Coyotes — 10.3%

New Jersey Devils — 8.5%

Buffalo Sabres — 7.6%

Detroit Red Wings — 6.7%

Dallas Stars — 5.8%

Florida Panthers — 5.4%

Los Angeles Kings — 4.5%

Carolina Hurricanes — 3.2%

Winnipeg Jets — 2.7%

Philadelphia Flyers — 2.2%

Tampa Bay Lightning 1.8%

New York Islanders — 0.9%

The NHL draft will be held on Friday, June 23 (first round) and Saturday, June 24 (rounds two through seven) at United Center in Chicago.

Paul Carey replaces Brett Connolly for Capitals in Game 2

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After dropping Game 1 of their second-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, the Washington Capitals are making a minor lineup change on Saturday for Game 2 of the series when Paul Carey replaces Brett Connolly on the team’s fourth line.

Carey, 28, appeared in only six games for the Capitals this season and did not record a point. He has one goal and one assist in 32 career NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche and Capitals, and appeared in three playoff games for the Avalanche back in 2014.

Given how Connolly’s ice time has been decreasing over the past few games this postseason it probably should not be too much of a surprise that he is now being removed from the lineup. After logging at least 10 minutes of ice time in each of the Capitals’ first three playoff games, he has not played more than 6:12 in each of the past four.

Coach Barry Trotz said on Saturday that he likes Carey’s speed in the lineup against the faster Penguins.

Connolly scored 15 goals in 66 regular season games for the Capitals this season.

In other Capitals lineup news, there is no change in the status of defenseman Karl Alzner as he will remain out of the lineup. He has been sidelined since Game 3 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury. Nate Schmidt will continue to take his place.

Scott Darling trade ‘worth the risk’ for Hurricanes

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The Carolina Hurricanes made a somewhat surprising move on Friday night when they acquired goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a third-round draft pick in 2017.

On the surface it looks like a good move for both the team and the player. Goaltending has been a major thorn in the Hurricanes’ side for several years now, while Darling has probably earned the opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL after performing extremely well as Corey Crawford‘s backup in Chicago.

The risk for the Hurricanes is that Darling will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and they will have to get him signed to a new contract before then to avoid potentially losing him (and the third-round pick they sent to Chicago) for nothing.

Shortly after the trade on Friday, Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said all of that was worth the risk because the team has accumulated so many draft picks in this year’s class.

“This is a bit of a gamble but one we believed was worth taking,” Francis told Chip Alexander of the News & Observer. “This is why we accumulated these picks and we still have 10 left. It was worth the risk.”

He added that they would “like to get something done sooner rather than later.”

The duo of Cam Ward and Eddie Lack finished the 2016-17 season with a .901 save percentage, 26th in the NHL. The Hurricanes have finished higher than 25th just once in the past five years. The Hurricanes have solid young core of talent in place and a defense that allowed the fifth fewest shots on goal in the entire league this season. Solidifying the goaltending position would go a long way toward ending the team’s current eight year playoff drought.

 

2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Saturday, April 29

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The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoff continues on Saturday with a pair of games on NBC.

All of the action starts at 3 p.m. ET when the New York Rangers try to even their series against the Ottawa Senators. Later, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Washington Capitals at 8 p.m. ET.

Here is all of the information you need for today’s games.

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Time: 3:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

Announcers: John Forslund, Brian Boucher

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

Announcers: Mike Emrick, Ed Olczyk, Pierre McGuire