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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.

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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?”

Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

Some Twitter reaction to the goal:

Bruins’ Bergeron ruled out for Saturday’s game against Wild

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The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).

He’s considered day-to-day at this point.

Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.

“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.

“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.

Jets will take one more crack at re-signing Andrew Ladd

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
Associated Press
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Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.

According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.

Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.

At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.

Can they top that? Time will tell.

Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.

Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.

Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.

The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.

Flyers’ Neuvirth (lower body) will be between the pipes vs. the Devils on Saturday

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) of the Czech Republic stops a shot from the Dallas Stars in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Michal Neuvirth will make his first start of the month in Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

The 27-year-old missed five games with a lower-body injury. He was activated off the injured list earlier this week and served as Steve Mason‘s backup in Thursday’s game against Buffalo.

Neuvirth has an 11-6-2 record with a 2.14 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage in 2015-16.

He’s put up some solid numbers against the Devils in his career. Neuvirth has a 5-2-4 record with 2.03 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in games against New Jersey.

Steve Mason, who’s coming off a 41-save performance in a win over Buffalo, hasn’t been as good against Saturday’s opponent.

Mason is 0-7-0 lifetime against the Devils.

Puck drop is at 1:00 p.m. ET.