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Sakic doesn’t plan on trading MacKinnon, Rantanen or Jost

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The Colorado Avalanche, by pretty much any measure, are one of the worst teams in the NHL this season and on track to be one of the worst of in the NHL over the past 10 years. It has become increasingly clear that general manager Joe Sakic has quite a bit of work to do when it comes to fixing the mess the current team is in.

Given the team’s current spot in the standings and its consistent regression over the past three years, it is inevitable that some sort of trade is going to get made in the not-too-distant future, likely involving one of the team’s core players.

Before the Avalanche’s overtime win over the New York Islanders on Friday night, Sakic said (via Terry Frei of the Denver Post) that he will continue to explore trades that will help the team down the line and that the team has to get young.

Along with that, he also named three players that he does not plan on moving. The list includes Nathan MacKinnon, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Mikko Rantanen, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2015, and Tyson Jost, their first-round pick from this past season.

Here is Sakic, via the Denver Post:

“Well, I don’t plan on moving a guy like MacKinnon, (Tyson) Jost, (Mikko) Rantanen, especially with their age,” Sakic said. “We have a lot of good pieces here. Will I be listening to different ideas on how to improve us and maybe get us younger and get more depth here? Yeah, we’re going to do that.”

Given the skill level, age, potential, and contract status of those three players it is a very good place to start.

It also means that he would at least consider trading any of captain Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene or Tyson Barrie. Any potential move involving one of those players would be a massive shift in the structure of the team because they are still three of the four or five best players on the roster.

Such a move would also carry a great deal of risk. Not only because it’s tough to get back fair value for a player like a Matt Duchene if you decide to follow that path and move him, but also because of who is making the trade. The latter point is not something that should be taken lightly.

When hockey teams like the Avalanche go bad, the focus tends to fall on the best players, and Colorado is no different. That core group has faced intense criticism for two solid years now for the team’s shortcomings, even though the biggest issue remainss an alarming lack of depth at both forward and defense (and especially on defense).

The problem spot has been off the ice, specifically when it comes to the construction of the roster. This is, for all intents and purposes, Joe Sakic’s team. Twenty-two of the 28 players that have appeared in a game this season for the Avalanche were acquired under Sakic’s watch, with most of them coming over the past two years. Whether it be draft picks, free agents, trades, this roster belongs to Sakic. And it is not very good.

He also already made one significant change to the team’s core when he sent Ryan O'Reilly to Buffalo before the 2015-16 season and the return, to this point, has underwhelmed. You can not do that again with another core player.

The question you have to ask if you’re the Avalanche is — and really this is true of any team in this situation — do you trust the people that helped create the mess, to fix the mess?

More: MacKinnon wins it in overtime for the Avalanche

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

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Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

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Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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