James O'Brien

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Grigorenko

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If Mikhail Grigorenko were to make any roster in 2015-16, his best chance probably would be with the Colorado Avalanche.

After all, Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy has seen firsthand what Grigorenko can accomplish at his best … albeit in the QMJHL.

Regardless, Grigorenko didn’t cloak his excitement about being reunited with Roy, when asked by the Denver Post back in July.

“I can’t wait for the opportunity to have him as a coach again,” Grigorenko said. “I had my best years in Quebec and it was great having Patrick as a coach. He was great to me and taught me a lot of things on and off the ice. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me already, and I can’t wait to have him as a coach again.”

At 21, it’s too early to call this a make-or-break chance for Grigorenko, yet it’s a golden opportunity for him to show that the Buffalo Sabres dropped the ball regarding his development.

Let’s be honest, though: Griogrenko has more going for him than the pedigree of being a first-round pick (12th overall in 2012) and a good head start with his head coach. While the Sabres flinched at giving him a one-way contract for next season, that’s exactly what he received from Colorado.

The bottom line is that the Avalanche have every incentive to give the prospect a chance to succeed, so now Grigorenko just needs to take the bull by the horns.

Related: Will Zadorov make the Avs next season?

It’s Colorado Avalanche day at PHT

Tampa Bay Lightning v Colorado Avalanche
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As the Colorado Avalanche enter their third year of the Joe Sakic-Patrick Roy front office era, they seemingly remain a lab test for the league’s stat debates.

The Avalanche were once again a squad whose possession stats peaked at “really bad, but at least not Buffalo Sabres bad” in 2014-15.

The difference between missing the postseason this past season and 2013-14’s triumphant run may have just been some combination of Semyon Varlamov being less superhuman and Colorado experiencing bad luck.

To the stat-leaning public, this was an example of a team playing over its head one year and then crashing to reality last season.

To Roy, it was a rare failure, as he explained to NHL.com.

“I’m here to win the Stanley Cup,” Roy said. “I’m not in Denver to see us missing the playoffs, I’m here to see us winning. I really want to make sure that’s the last time we’re missing the playoffs. It makes you very humble. First time I missed the playoffs as a coach in junior and the NHL.”

The Avalanche might be humbled, yet they’re also sticking to their guns by defying conventional wisdom as far as strategies and team-building go.

Off-season recap

A year after respectable possession player and scorer Paul Stastny left town, the Avalanche traded away their other forward best known for being a rare beacon of light on a team that’s a fancy stats nightmare: Ryan O’Reilly.

One cannot totally blame the Avs for parting ways with a player who seemed out the door for some time, yet it perpetuates the theme that the Avalanche are bucking growing trends around the league.

That said, Carl Soderberg isn’t chopped liver, although he – like O’Reilly – will fetch quite a bounty for his work next season.

Actually, the haul for O’Reilly is quite intriguing: could Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko pay immediate dividends for the Avs? Considering how often this franchise invests in fading veterans, nabbing a couple potential blue chips could be crucial.

Francois Beauchemin is a fine defenseman, yet at 35, many wonder if he’ll be a letdown along the lines of Brad Stuart. Again, many of these moves ultimately fit into Colorado’s M.O.

***

The Avalanche seem content to do things their way, which makes them polarizing for some. However you feel about management’s broader moves, it’s foolish to count out a team that still boasts fascinating prime-age talent in Varlamov, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie and more.

PHT Morning Skate: Daniel is (barely) still ‘The Shooting Sedin’

Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Looking back at Daniel Briere’s legacy as a trailblazer. (The Hockey News)

Let’s check back in on the best UFAs still available, shall we? (NHL.com)

Speaking of the latest on a common theme, let’s take another look at perceived winners, losers and tweeners from the off-season. (NHL Numbers)

Want to kill time on a taxing Tuesday? Try to match these hockey nicknames with their “owners.” (Greatest Hockey Legends)

This one’s a month old, but still relevant: what can the Los Angeles Kings expect from Milan Lucic? (Jewels from the Crown)

Watching the Sedin twins play a game of “H-O-R-S-E” was a little rough at times. In fact, for a while there, it seemed like the moniker of “The Shooting Sedin” might just transfer from Daniel to Henrik Sedin:

Report: Blackhawks’ Danault could miss 3 months after hip surgery

philldangetty
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Chicago Blackhawks prospect Phillip Danault could miss about three months after undergoing hip surgery, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazarus reports.

(Do note that the Blackhawks haven’t confirmed or denied the 22-year-old’s status just yet.)

Danault saw his first bit of NHL action in 2014-15, failing to score a point in two regular season games.

The 26th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft spent the last three seasons with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, where one would assume he’d likely end up for much (if not all) of 2015-16.

Whenever he blossoms, the Blackhawks would like him to remind fans of Marcus Kruger, as CSNChicago.com reported back in July 2014:

“They told me they want me to be a Kruger,” Danault said. “So I’ll try to mold myself after Marcus Kruger.”

The Blackhawks still don’t have Kruger locked up to a new contract, so they might ask Danault to do that impression sooner rather than later. Before that happens, he’d need to have a clean bill of health, of course.

Beleskey wants to get started: ‘I could end the summer right now’

Matt Beleskey
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Hockey fans aren’t the only ones counting down the days until training camp and the start of the regular season.

That moment of anxiety is striking more than a few NHL players in mid-August, and new Boston Bruins forward Matt Beleskey is really feeling it, as he told the team website.

“I could end the summer right now and start camp tomorrow,” Beleskey said. “I’m ready to go. This is always the hardest part of the summer, when you’ve been training and you’re kind of sick of that. I just want to get out there and start playing.”

The five-year, $19 million contract he signed this summer certainly represents an upgrade for the 27-year-old, but it’s not quite on the absurd level that many players have received following hot contract years in the past.

It’s still the kind of deal that will leave many people pleading with him to “prove it,” however, so that must make a summer full of golf and fishing feel a little more restless than usual.

Beleskey also must be a little intrigued about where he’ll end up in the Bruins’ lineup. Do you put him with David Krejci to try to be something of a Milan Lucic fill-in or do you add scoring depth by using Beleskey on the third line?

That’s interesting stuff to ponder, but as we fidget the next two months away, maybe Beleskey can do us a solid and share some more dog photos.

Now that is regular-season form.

(H/T to Rotoworld)