Avs GM Sherman ‘believes in the foundation’ of last-place club


What could’ve been a busy deadline day for the Colorado Avalanche — the NHL’s last-place team — ended up being a quiet one, with only veteran blueliner Ryan O’Byrne getting shipped out of town.

And according to Avs GM Greg Sherman, that was by design.

“I believe in this hockey team and I believe in the foundation that we have here,” Sherman told the Denver Post. “We all believe in it, from our entire operation on down.”

Despite Sherman’s outlook, many thought the Avs might blow it up heading into Wednesday’s deadline.

The only players with no-movement clauses were veterans Milan Hejduk and JS Giguere, and there was buzz around the likes of pending UFA Chuck Kobasew (though he’s currently dealing with back stiffness), defenseman Erik Johnson and the team’s highest-paid player, Paul Stastny.

But Sherman didn’t deal.

Though that’s not to say he didn’t field inquiries.

“There were several calls that I received regarding players on our team, but players on our roster that I believe in and our organization believes in,” he explained. “We did get inquiries throughout the day, and it shows what we have in place here. We have a very good young core.

“The foundation is very solid, and on days like today you get affirmation of that.”

The Avs do have some good talent. On paper, they should be in decent shape heading into next season.

If the organization calls a mulligan on this year and starts fresh, it’ll have great depth at center (Stastny, Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene) and a full compliment of wingers once Steve Downie comes back from a torn ACL.

Semyon Varlamov has been solid in net, and reigning Calder Trophy winner (and team captain) Gabriel Landeskog is still only 20 years old.

Also, the club already has 20 players under contract next season for $54 million, $10 million shy of the cap ceiling. Sherman could look to upgrade his defense via free agency — which has been an issue this season — or acquire someone via trade, with the flexibility to take on salary.

All of this, of course, is contingent upon folks buying what Sherman is selling.

Avs fans have been angry at the club’s direction over the last few years (related: the Avs sit 26th in the NHL in attendance) and to hear a GM say he’s sticking with the core of a last-place club?

Yeah, that might not go over so well.

NHL on NBCSN ’15-16 coverage begins tonight with doubleheader

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After months of waiting, we’re finally ready to begin the 2015-16 campaign and NBCSN will kick off its coverage with a doubleheader tonight.

The action will begin with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Chicago has been called a dynasty by some for winning the Stanley Cup three times over the last six campaigns, but one thing that the Blackhawks haven’t done is successfully defend a title. The last team to do so was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 before the salary cap era kicked off. That change was on display this summer as the Blackhawks were forced to move or otherwise walk away from Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad in the name of cap compliance.

Even after losing all those pieces of their 2015 championship team though, Chicago has emerged from the summer with much of its core intact. It also has some promising new players, such as 23-year-old KHL star Artemi Panarin, who is attempting to make the leap to the NHL after outscoring former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on his way to leading SKA St. Petersburg to a KHL championship.

The New York Rangers should be a great first test for the Blackhawks as they begin their new quest. The Rangers advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the last four years, but they haven’t earned a championship since 1994. With Henrik Lundqvist set to celebrate his 34th birthday in March, the Rangers’ window for winning the Cup in front of their all-star goaltender is closing and thus the stakes are high for New York this season.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will air the San Jose Sharks’ contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. This is the second straight year that these two teams have been matched for the opener, but this time it’s under much different circumstances.

A year ago, Los Angeles had its sights set on defending its title while the Sharks were seeking revenge after suffering a reverse sweep in the first round against the Kings. In the end, neither team had the season they were looking for as they both fell short of the playoffs.

For the Sharks, that miss ended a playoff streak that dated back to the 2003-04 campaign while Los Angeles suffered its first major setback since it celebrated its first championship in 2012. Both teams have to be hungry to bounce right back this season and given that each both of these squads are certainly capable of obtaining that goal. First though, they need to settle the latest chapter of their rivalry.

PHT Morning Skate: Remembering 10 years of Crosby, Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Here’s a detailed look back at Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin‘s first 10 years in the NHL. (NHL.com)

Speaking of Crosby, he’s signed a multiyear partnership with adidas. (Newswire)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play a key role in easing Connor McDavid into the NHL. (Edmonton Sun)

After two polar opposite seasons, the jury is still out on Patrick Roy as a head coach. (Denver Post)

Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys pulling off pranks on his teammates. “I play better when I’m looser, laughing and having fun,” he said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Art McDonald, a Canadian who won recently won a Nobel Prize, talked to the committee members about the Toronto Maple Leafs. (SB Nation)