Marian Hossa

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Reports: Matt Duchene still wants trade from Avalanche

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Winning might fix a lot of things, but can it repair a bridge that has been burned?

In the case of Matt Duchene and the Colorado Avalanche, the answer may very well be “No.”

On Monday, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston declared as much during an intermission interview with Jeff Marek (no video or audio available at this time). Elliotte Friedman backed up such sentiments in his latest “31 Thoughts” piece for Sportsnet, deeming it “unlikely” that winning would patch things up.

The most promising element might be that the Avs seem to be a little more open-minded when it comes to the sort of return they’re expecting for the speedy forward:

I do think they are doing work on non-NHL prospects of potential trade partners — especially left-handed defenders. That might be a way to break the trade stalemate, providing Colorado’s scouts like what they see.

Getting NHL teams to shake loose quality defensemen who are already on their rosters is easier said than done, but it’s easier to sell management and fans on guys who haven’t made an impact yet.

(Although that’s not always true, of course, as sometimes people tend to inflate a prospect’s chances when their work lives largely in their imaginations.)

Really, whatever it takes to get Duchene out of his misery, what with sad-looking photo shoots and comments from Peter Forsberg/other childhood heroes.

Other NHL teams – not to mention Avs GM/other Duchene hero Joe Sakic himself – should take this as another reminder to be careful how they handle players, even if they’re shopping them. Whether it comes down to official statements or allowing things to “leak,” you can really damage a relationship if you lack a certain level of finesse.

History repeating?

Allow a digression: it’s difficult not to think of how the Avalanche had a falling out with Ryan O'Reilly when considering the Duchene situation. There’s the possibility that it provides a window into Duchene’s thinking.

Back in 2015, PHT looked at resurfacing reports about tension between the two forwards toward the end of ROR’s time with Colorado. Duchene explained that O’Reilly was a great teammate “at the rink” and seemed irritated that the two-way forward was trying to break through what seemed like a $6M ceiling in Colorado.

So, in Duchene’s mind, he might have taken less money than he could have in accepting $6M per year.

Imagine, then, the frustration he felt in being a team player and then seeing his team dragging his name through the mud. Even if his take wasn’t that dramatic, the treatment came across as harsh.

Would a few early wins really smooth all of that over?

Either way, even that narrative is fading out, as the Avalanche are on a two-game losing streak to fall to a more modest 4-3-0 so far in 2017-18. That’s still a quantum leap from the historic lows they hit last season, but Duchene can be excused if he doesn’t believe that putting the team before his feelings will open the door for some deep run.

***

Look, it’s understandable that the Avalanche want to get a great return for Duchene. Sports are littered with quarter-on-the-dollar trade where contenders give up junk for struggling teams’ best players.

On the other hand, every now and then, the planets align for fair NHL trades. Ryan Johansen goes for Seth Jones. Brandon Saad and Artemi Panarin meet specific needs for their respective new (old-new) squads. Even Dany Heatley for Marian Hossa was pretty reasonable, considering the circumstances the then-Atlanta Thrashers were facing.

Still, trades are fun, and it’s tough not to feel a little jealous of the NBA’s frenzy, where super teams aligned and realigned seemingly on a weekly basis.

It would just be straight-up fun to see Duchene try to take the Columbus Blue Jackets to another level or make the Nashville Predators seem downright scary. One might even change Duchene’s soundtrack from Simon & Garfunkel to the theme for Dawson’s Creek in rapt anticipation.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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PHT’s Central Division preview: Blackhawks, Wild, Predators, and more

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For ages, it felt like the Central Division was the reigning champion as the toughest division in the NHL.

The Metropolitan Division seemed to knock the Central off its perch, right down to the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Still, much of those stumbles seemed self-imposed, as the Dallas Stars struggled, the Winnipeg Jets disappointed, and the Colorado Avalanche were jaw-droppingly bad.

Let’s take a look at PHT’s material on the Central Division with the 2017-18 season set to begin.

Click here for the Atlantic Division preview.

Click here for PHT’s staff predictions.

Chicago Blackhawks

Poll/looking to make the leap

Colorado Avalanche

Poll/looking to make the leap

Dallas Stars

Poll/looking to make the leap

Minnesota Wild

Poll/looking to make the leap

Speaking of signings, the Wild inked a deal with Daniel Winnik today:

Nashville Predators

Poll/Looking to make the leap

St. Louis Blues

Poll/looking to make the leap

One other Blues note:

Winnipeg Jets

Poll/looking to make the leap

End of Leafs’ LTIR drama? Lupul reportedly fails another physical

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It looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks can both let out sighs of relief regarding prominent players and LTIR.

Reports indicate that Marian Hossa will indeed go to LTIR, and reporters including Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston pass along word that the same appears to be true regarding Joffrey Lupul.

In fact, NHL executive Bill Daly confirmed that Lupul failed his second, independent physical, so to LTIR goes his $5.25 million cap hit:

To understate things, the situation got a little contentious between Lupul and the Maple Leafs. He called Toronto out in an Instagram post for “cheating,” although he apologized a few days later.

Lupul turned 34 in late September. His contract expires after 2017-18, so it’s at least conceivable that he could play again. Seeing him fail multiple physicals doesn’t make that possibility seem any less remote. It says a lot that he’s suffered enough ailments that he could be sidelined for a number of reasons.

If this is it for Lupul, credit the winger for being more than “that guy who was involved in a weird number of Chris Pronger trades.” Lupul enjoyed a couple strong postseason runs, made an All-Star roster, and generated 420 points during his career.

There will be the thought of what could have been (both during his injury-ravaged playing days and in these years when he hasn’t played at all), but Lupul should keep his head held high.

And, hey, Twitter needs levity at this time, so he inadvertently contributes in that regard, too.

Report: Blackhawks allowed to place Marian Hossa on LTIR

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The Chicago Blackhawks will be allowed to place veteran forward Marian Hossa on injured reserve, according to Scott Power of The Athletic.

This offseason, the Blackhawks raised some eyebrows when they placed Hossa on the long-term injured list because of a skin disorder.

There was skepticism surrounding the move because Hossa, who has a cap hit of $5.275 million, is “only” scheduled to make $1 million per year starting this season.

Eventually, after the announcement was made, everyone moved on to something else until Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul wrote about the Maple Leafs cheating on player physicals. Lupul had just failed his physical and the Leafs were set to put him on long-term IR so that his salary wouldn’t count towards their salary cap.

Lupul backtracked as best he could, but it was too late, as the NHL decided to do their own investigation into his failed physical and Hossa’s inability to suit up.

The NHL had an independent physician take a deeper look into Hossa’s case, and it looks like they’ll be able to sit him out for as long as they have to.

The ‘Hawks are over the salary cap by over $500,000, so this definitely benefits them.

Related:

Hossa was a “special player” and the ‘Hawks are going to miss him

Blackhawks place Rozsival on long-term injured reserve

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Michal Rozsival has been placed on long-term injured reserve, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday.

The news comes weeks after Rozsival failed his physical at the beginning of training camp.

Rozsival was sucker punched by Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie late last season, and his agent has told The Athletic that Rozsival is still dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

With this move, the Blackhawks roster is down to 27 players — 16 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies. Rozsival was entering a one-year deal with a cap hit of $650,000, per CapFriendly.

The Blackhawks, as of Monday evening, were still awaiting word from the NHL on whether Marian Hossa, who underwent an independent medical exam, will be eligible for LTIR.