Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson (6) saves the empty net goal by the Minnesota Wild during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Patrick Roy doesn’t thinks Avs’ defense is far behind Kings


The Colorado Avalanche are coming off of a breakout season that pushed the question from if they can make the playoffs to what steps can they take to close the gap between them and the championship Los Angeles Kings.

One thing they might do is add a complimentary defenseman to help give their team the depth it needs to play at that level.

“We’re not that far away on defense,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said, according to the Denver Post. “You look at (Erik) Johnson, who had a really good year, we have (Tyson) Barrie, who played really well at the end of the season, and we have Nick Holden, who we think is a solid defenseman.

“Are they where (the Kings are)? The answer is no, but now the (question) is, ‘Who are we going to add?’ You cannot just add the top players. You have to have a great mix, and you look at some teams as a model, and I think L.A. is a good example. If we could get the good mix — stay-at-home, physical defensemen playing with high-skill defensemen — I think that’s the approach that we’d like to have, and I think we’re heading in a pretty good direction.

“I think the future of our franchise on the defensive side of the game is a lot better than people think it is.”

Colorado might even target Willie Mitchell or Matt Greene to help close that gap as one or both of them could end up on the unrestricted free agent market after winning the Stanley Cup with the Kings.

Meanwhile, the Avalanche are also trying to retain pending unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny and re-sign restricted free agent Ryan O’Reilly while staying within their budget parameters.

Leafs prospects Nylander and Kapanen heading to AHL

William Nylander
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The Toronto Maple Leafs trimmed their training camp roster by 16 players on Sunday.

Two of the Leafs’ top prospects, William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, are heading to the the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

For the full list of cuts, click here.

Nylander was Toronto’s first round pick, eighth overall, in 2014.

The 19-year-old scored an impressive 14 goals and 32 points in 37 games with the Marlies in 2014-15.

Kapenen, 19, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade.

He had one goal and one assist in a brief four game stint with Pittsburgh’s farm team last season.

The rebuilding Maple Leafs have no issue being patient with their top young prospects. Both players could make their NHL debut at some point this season, but they may have to wait a little while longer before they become regulars at the next level.

The Leafs now have 24 players on their training camp roster. They have until Tuesday to put the finishing touches on their lineup. Toronto needs to cut at least one more player.

Torres suspended pending hearing

Raffi Torres, Cory Schneider
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According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Raffi Torres has been suspended pending his disciplinary hearing with the league for his hit on Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Torres was assessed a match penalty for targeting Silfverberg’s head on Saturday night.

The 33-year-old missed all of last season with a knee injury, and it looks like the start of his regular season will be delayed once again.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have come back into the game, but he was held out for precautionary reasons.

Ducks center Ryan Kesler didn’t hide his feelings after the contest.

“(Torres) is the same player every year,” Kesler told reporters. “He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”