Matt Duchene

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

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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: On Hockey Day in America, Auston Matthews did this . . .

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11:  Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.

Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.

On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.

As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.

Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages

Video: After a slow start, Evander Kane is on a roll for the Sabres

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For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.

Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.

He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.

(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)

Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Sharks

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 9: Dominic Moore #28 of the Boston Bruins defends Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks during the first period at TD Garden on February 9, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.

The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress

Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?

Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions

Video: Trouba called for a hit to the head on Stone

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Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.

The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.

Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.

As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.