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Another loss, and another bunch of discouraging quotes from the Avs

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The Avs lost 2-0 to Minnesota on Tuesday night — the sixth time this year they’ve been shut out — which put them at 11-19-1 on the year.

That’s the worst record in the NHL. Colorado is mired in the league basement, four points back of the 29th-place Coyotes, with the fewest goals scored (65) and the eighth-most goals allowed (99).

As Brough wrote two days ago, nothing is going right for this team.

“We’re still losing games, which is frustrating,” goaltender Semyon Varlamov said after the Wild loss, per the Denver Post. “We’ve lost four in a row. It’s embarrassing.”

Varlamov’s quote was telling, but hardly the only negative one. Matt Duchene said the Avs’ power play, which went 0-for-5 against Minnesota, was “awful.” Head coach Jared Bednar said it was just another example of a season-long issue — “we’ve been struggling all year to create offense.”

It’s really been a season of lowlights:

— The Avs’ longest winning streak of the season is two. It happened twice. Once at the start of the year (season-opening victories against the Stars and Penguins), and once in mid-November (wins over Minnesota and Columbus).

— They suffered one of the worst losses in franchise history two weeks ago, a 10-1 drubbing in Montreal that captain Gabriel Landeskog accurately summed up as an “ass-whooping.”

— Injuries haven’t helped. Landeskog missed a bunch of time with a lower-body ailment, and Erik Johnson is sidelined with a broken fibula.

— This isn’t the first time Duchene and Bednar have called out the group. The former said his team was “awful” in a shutout loss to Dallas on Dec. 3, and the latter has constantly harped on the Avs’ lack of intensity.

With a points percentage of 0.74, the Avs are in serious danger of eclipsing one of the worst teams in franchise history — Joe Sacco’s 2010-11 side, which finished with just 30 wins and 68 points. Colorado finished 29th in the league that year.

That finish, of course, netted the Avs the No. 2 overall pick, which they used to select Landeskog. And after winning the Calder trophy, Landeskog was named team captain, cementing him as a franchise cornerstone.

Now, though, Landeskog is the leader of a core group that’s come under heavy scrutiny (most notably by former head coach Patrick Roy). There have been rumblings of a potential shakeup for a while, though GM Joe Sakic has remained defiant, saying he has faith in the group.

“It’s not a core thing,” Sakic said. “It’s a team thing.”

Of course, Sakic said that back on Dec. 1, when the Avs were 9-11-1. Since then they’ve won just two of 10 games, and suffered that humiliating defeat in Montreal.

Which begs the question — how much longer can this go on without some kind of change?

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins