DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 1: Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on during a timeout against the Dallas Stars on November 1, 2013 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Avs sign Varlamov to five-year, $29.5 million extension

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The 2013-14 campaign is one Semyon Varlamov won’t soon forget.

On Thursday, Varlamov re-upped with Colorado on a five-year, $29.5 million extension — one that carries a $5.9 million annual cap hit, putting him among the NHL’s 10 highest-paid netminders starting next season.

“Undoubtedly, Semyon has been an impact player for us this season,” said Avalanche vice president Joe Sakic said in a statement. “At only 25 years old, he is entering the prime years of his career and he wants to be part of this franchise moving forward.

“We are very excited to have come to terms with him and the fact that he has agreed to a five-year extension demonstrates his commitment to the Avalanche and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The extension will signify a big raise for Varlamov, who is currently in the final of a three-year, $8.5 million deal with a $2.83M cap hit.

Varlamov has posted a 26-9-5 record with a 2.43 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and one shutout in 42 games (39 starts) this season. He was selected to represent Russia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and, should he maintain this level of play, will likely be in Vezina consideration at year’s end.

Of course, Varlamov came under heavy scrutiny this season after he was charged with third-degree assault following allegations of assaulting his girlfriend at their home on Oct. 30. Those charges were later dropped —  “it became clear we didn’t have a belief we could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” Denver district attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said, per the Denver Post — but Varlamov’s accuser stood by her story, saying she was “saddened” by the D.A’s decision.

UPDATE: Interesting note here about Colorado’s cap situation for next season, from ESPN’s Craig Custance…

The Avs also have a decision to make with pending UFA center Paul Stastny.

 

Kings place Ehrhoff on waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Los Angeles Kings head for the piuck during the first period at Staples Center on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.

In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.

According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.

The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.

Report: Kadri’s throat-slashing gesture being reviewed by NHL

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Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.

The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.

The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.

Fix coming? Blues activate Schwartz after 49-game absence

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After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”

He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”

Well, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.

The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).

The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

‘Very upset’ Jokinen blasts NHL’s handling of Abdelkader-Barkov hit

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You can add Jussi Jokinen to the list of Florida Panthers livid with Justin Abdelkader‘s hit on Aleksander Barkov.

“I’m very upset,” Jokinen said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t know if I’m too emotional because that’s my best friend on the team. It looked really dangerous.”

Barkov was knocked woozy by a big Abdelkader check during Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Panthers on Monday. The hit forced the young Finn from the game, and also forced him to miss yesterday’s contest in Buffalo.

Abdelkader wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit and, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t contact him at all.

It’s also worth pointing out that Abdelkader wasn’t penalized at the time of the incident.

But that didn’t stop Nick Bjugstad and head coach Gerard Gallant from calling the hit “cheap,” with Gallant suggesting Abdelkader left his feet to make the hit, and caught Barkov in the jaw.

Jokinen put the onus on the league to wipe out checks of this nature.

“There are too many hits like that an no suspensions,” he explained. “Fans want to watch Barkov, not those guys. The league has to do a better job of taking those hits out of the game.”

Florida and Detroit next play on Mar. 19, in case you’re wondering.