The Colorado Avalanche will have a familiar face back in the lineup on Thursday when Milan Hejduk returns from a neck injury to face the Wild.
Hedjuk, 37, has been out of action since taking a hard check against Columbus on Mar. 3.
“I woke up and I couldn’t move,” Hejduk said told the Denver Post.
The former Colorado captain skated on a line with Paul Statsny and Gabriel Landeskog at practice on Wednesday. It’s unclear if that trio will stick together, as David Jones has primarily skated alongside Stastny on right wing this year.
Hejduk has appeared in 20 games for the Avs this year, scoring 3G-6A-9PTS while averaging just over 13 minutes per game.
His situation will be one worth monitoring as we get closer to the Apr. 3 trade deadline.
Even though he’s spent his entire career in Denver, his best years are behind him and he has a no-movement clause, Hejduk could be an interesting acquisition for teams looking to add veteran savvy for the playoffs.
He’s a UFA at season’s end and clearly has a diminished role in Colorado. What’s more, the Avs sit 14th in the Western Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Nail Yakupov, the first overall draft pick only five years ago, has become an unrestricted free agent.
The 23-year-old winger was not extended a qualifying offer by the St. Louis Blues, thus providing him UFA status. He played 40 games for the Blues in 2016-17, battling a knee injury and scoring just three goals.
Yakupov wants to remain in the NHL, saying in May he has zero plans to return to Russia. It’s possible he could re-sign with the Blues at a lower salary than his qualifying offer would’ve been.
If not, there are 30 other teams he can speak with now.
Yakupov is currently in the conversation with Alexandre Daigle and Patrik Stefan in terms of biggest first overall busts in NHL history.
The Blues did extend qualifying offers to five players: defensemen Colton Parayko and Petteri Lindbohm, forwards Magnus Paajarvi and Oskar Sundqvist, and goalie Jordan Binnington.
Anton Forsberg, the former Columbus goalie Chicago acquired in the Brandon Saad-for-Artemi Panarin blockbuster, has signed a two-year extension with the ‘Hawks.
Forsberg, 24, came to North America in the ’13-14 campaign and has spent most of his time with Columbus’ AHL affiliate. He helped the club capture the Calder Cup in 2016, and that performance was part of the reason Chicago GM Stan Bowman went out and acquired him.
In the aftermath, Bowman said Forsberg would get the “first crack” at the No. 2 gig behind Corey Crawford. The ‘Hawks have been without a backup since sending Scott Darling to Carolina.
While Forsberg is the favorite for the gig, he’s not a lock. He only has 10 games of NHL experience — a pretty small sample size — and lost out on a similar opportunity with Columbus. Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo were battling to be Sergei Bobrovsky‘s understudy, with Korpisalo eventually winning out.
In other Chicago news, the club gave depth forward Tomas Jurco a one-year extension today. Jurco was acquired from Detroit at last year’s trade deadline and appeared in 13 games for the ‘Hawks, scoring one goal. He didn’t dress for the club’s first-round playoff sweep at the hands of Nashville.
No word yet on financials for either guy.
Gustav Olofsson, the Minnesota defenseman taken in the second round of the ’13 draft, has signed a two-year, $1.45 million extension, per the Star-Tribune.
Olofsson was a restricted free agent, having just wrapped his entry-level contract. This new deal will pay him $725,000 per season and, importantly, it’s of the one-way variety.
The Star-Tribune reports Olofsson is expected to play in the Wild’s top-six defense next season, especially since GM Chuck Fletcher appears primed to trade one of Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Matt Dumba. Fletcher needs cap space to finalize new deals for RFA forwards Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund.
Speaking of contracts, the Wild opted against making a qualifying offer for d-man Christian Folin. This means he’ll be able to test free agency, though it’s reported Minnesota might try to re-negotiate with him as a UFA.
The Hockey Hall of Fame will welcome five players and two builders into its doors as part of the 2017 class.
Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Danielle Goyette were officially inducted as players on Monday afternoon, while former Canadian collegiate coach Clare Drake and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs were inducted under the builders category.
Overall it is an extremely impressive class of players. Selanne, Andreychuk and Recchi are all among the top-20 goal scorers in league history, while Goyette was a 10-time gold medalist for the Canadian women’s hockey team, including twice at the Olympics. Drake was the long-time coach of the University of Alberta Men’s ice hockey team, coaching the team to six University Cup championships in 28 years. He coached the Edmonton Oilers for one season in 1975-76 when they were still in the WHA. Overall his coaching career spanned 40 years at various levels of Canadian hockey.
Selanne’s induction seemed to be an obvious one, but for Andreychuk and Recchi it ends what were pretty lengthy waits to finally have their names called.
Prior to Monday’s announcement, Recchi, Selanne and Andreychuk were the only retired players in the top-30 of the NHL’s all-time points list to not already be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The only active players in that group are currently Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton, and both seem like locks to eventually get in once their careers end (Jagr certainly is a lock).
Pierre Turgeon, 31st all time with 1,327 points, is now tops among retired scorers to not yet be inducted into the Hall of Fame.