Anaheim Ducks v Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche avoid arbitration, sign Jamie McGinn for two years


Despite the sort of breakout run that might encourage some teams to splurge, the Colorado Avalanche avoided the awkward salary arbitration process and signed Jamie McGinn to a two-year, $3.5 million contract, according to Adrian Dater. (That means he’ll receive $1.75 million per season.)

McGinn saw his development explode once he was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Avs. In just 17 games with Colorado, McGinn scored eight goals and 13 points – making more than a few Sharks fans wonder if the team got fleeced in the process.

McGinn is the latest example of the Avalanche making cost-efficient deals with their many free agents this off-season. Matt Duchene struggled mightily at times last season, but a two-year, $7 million pact is an enticing investment considering his skill set. Steve Downie was surprisingly affordable as well, costing Colorado just $5.2 million for two seasons. However you feel about Erik Johnson, his flaws are a lot easier to stomach considering that he’s a big-minutes defenseman (with still some potential to improve) at just $3.75 million per year. The jury’s out on whether P.A. Parenteau can approach his 80-point breakthrough during his final season with the New York Islanders, but four-years and $16 million is very economical if you factor in the unruly nature of the free agent market.

(About the only deal I don’t really like is David Jones’ four-year, $16 million contract, but that’s still not a disaster. Probably not, at least.)

According to Cap Geek, the Avalanche would have $54 million committed to the salary cap with McGinn’s deal factored in. If the floor remains at $55 million once the new CBA wraps up, the team won’t have to add much more salary to meet minimum requirements.

Colorado certainly wasn’t dominant last season, but they picked up steam with additions like McGinn and Downie. If those players can maintain – or even improve – their solid work from last season while Duchene and others improve, the Avs can be an interesting dark horse in the West.

Video: Marc Staal was no match for Alex Ovechkin on this goal

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks on against New York Islanders during the second period at Verizon Center on October 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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After being held without a point in his first two games of the season, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.

That includes his goal on Saturday night in the first period against the New York Rangers.

It’s one that will probably make the personal highlight reel for Ovechkin, but it certainly won’t make the highlight reel for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

To say that this head-to-head matchup turned out to be a mismatch would be … well … a bit of an understatement.

As Ovechkin crossed the blue line into the Rangers zone he started to toe-drag around Staal, only to stop midway through and just rip it from outside the circle, using Staal as a screen and beating Henrik Lundqvist for the goal.

It is probably not a good sign when the defenseman has his back to the shooter when the puck is released.

That goal gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead.

Red Wings’ Abdelkader out with lower body injury

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 15: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.

The official word from the team is that he is sidelined with a lower body injury.

He will be replaced in the lineup by Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou has appeared in three games this season and yet to record a point.

He was not only in the lineup on Friday in the Red Wings in their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, but also scored his first goal of the season and played a season-high 17:55.

After scoring 19 goals and recording 23 assists in 82 games in 2015-16 the Red Wings signed a seven-year $29.7 million contract extension.

According to general manager Ken Holland (via Helene St. James) he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Former Canadiens coach Jacques Demers hospitalized

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers has been hospitalized.

Demer’s director of parliamentary affairs confirmed Saturday that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, had been admitted to a Montreal hospital, but couldn’t immediately provide any details.

Demers had a stroke in April. He was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.

Demers led the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached Quebec, Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the NHL, and Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Quebec in the WHA.

Ales Hemsky returns to Stars lineup tonight

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 24:  Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 24, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Stars defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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When the Dallas Stars take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday evening one of their top forwards will be making his 2016-17 debut.

The team announced on Saturday afternoon that forward Ales Hemsky will be activated from injured reserve after missing the first four games of the season due to a groin injury at the World Cup of hockey.

He is expected to skate on the Stars’ top line on Saturday night alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

Now 33 years old, Hemsky isn’t quite as dynamic as he was during his prime years in Edmonton, but he is still an extremely skilled playmaker that is a solid fit in Dallas’ system. He is entering his third year with the Stars and has 71 points (24 goals, 47 assists) in 151 games with the team.

With Hemsky now activated and back in the lineup, the Stars also announced on Saturday that veteran forward Jiri Hudler has been placed on IR retroactive to Oct. 15 due to illness.