Matt Duchene

Avs re-sign Duchene: five years, $30 million


The Colorado Avalanche made a big splash on Thursday, signing Matt Duchene to a five-year contract extension.

According to Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press, the deal is worth $30 million overall, good for an average annual cap hit of $6 million.

“Matt already is and will be a big part of our team’s nucleus for the long term,” Avs vice president Joe Sakic said in a statement. “We all felt that it was important for us to secure his rights for several seasons.

“With his great skills, speed and character, he represents the identity we want the Avalanche to be.”

Duchene, 22, has been arguably the face of the franchise since debuting as an 18-year-old in 2009-10.

As the Avs noted in their press release, he already ranks 30th on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 193 points in 266 career games.

Last year, Duchene tied for the Avalanche scoring lead with 43 points, leading the club with 26 assists.

This new extension is likely a reward for the deal Duchene signed last June.

Eyebrows were raised when he inked a modest two-year, $7 million deal, but it now appears both club and player were on the same page, looking to ink a more lucrative extension down the road.

“In 2009, I was thrilled to have been selected by the Avalanche, my favorite team,” Duchene told the Avs website. “I have worn this uniform with pride in my first four professional seasons in Denver, and I appreciate the organization believing in me for the long-term future.”

With the signing, Duchene will become the club’s second-highest paid player — only Paul Stastny has a higher ($6.6 million) cap hit.

He’ll also be making slightly more than fellow 2009 draftee John Tavares (Tavares went first overall, Duchene third), as Tavares pulls an annual cap hit of $5.5 million on his six-year, $33 million deal.

Finally — it’ll be interesting to see how the Duchene deal affects Colorado’s future negotiations. Two big contracts are on the horizon, as both Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog are set to become RFAs in 2014-15.

O’Reilly made $10 million over two years on his last deal (thanks to Calgary’s offer sheet, which Colorado matched). Landeskog will be in the final year of his entry-level deal.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).