Tag: Cory Sarich

Stefan Elliott

Avs going with vets over youth on defense; assign Elliott to AHL (Updated)


The Colorado Avalanche are getting older — and bigger — on defense.

Having already dropped blueline prospects Chris Bigras (18 years old) and Duncan Siemens (20) from training camp, the Avs dispatched 22-year-old Stefan Elliott to AHL Lake Erie on Wednesday.

Elliott, the 49th overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has appeared in 57 games with Colorado over the last two seasons, scoring 13 points in 39 games in 2011-12, and four in 18 games in 2013. Along with Bigras (the 32nd overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft) and Siemens (11th overall, 2011), Elliott is part of the Avs’ eventual youth movement on defense.

His reassignment leaves Colorado with nine defensemen in camp and, judging by those still in attendance, it’s clear new head coach Patrick Roy is looking for players with more seasoning and experience to play right now.

Nate Guenin, a 30-year-old journeyman, is still in the mix after spending all last year with AHL Norfolk, as is 26-year-old Nick Holden, a longtime Columbus farmhand.

It’s possible Roy is looking for bigger, more physical defensemen after stressing the need to clear the front of the net during training camp. Guenin is 6-foot-3, 207 pounds while Holden is 6-foot-4, 207.

The club also acquired 6-foot-4, 207-pound veteran Cory Sarich in a trade with Calgary this past summer.


Roy has revealed his top-six defense for this season to the Denver Post, adding that he’ll carry eight blueliners to start the season. The top six are Erik Johnson, Andre Benoit, Ryan Wilson, Tyson Barrie, Jan Hejda and Cory Sarich, with Matt Hunwick, Guenin and Holden battling for the final two spots.

Roy: ‘I don’t want to necessarily be the head coach’ in Colorado

Patrick Roy

The way Patrick Roy sees it, there shouldn’t be a boss-employee relationship between him and the Avalanche players.

“I don’t want to necessarily be the head coach of this team,” Roy told the Denver Post following the opening day of Colorado’s training camp. “I want to be their partners. I want to have an exchange with them, and feel they can have an open conversation with me on anything that we’re going to do.”

It’s an interesting approach.

Wednesday was a day heavy on instruction — Roy routinely stopped practice and screamed “useless” when describing defensemen that stand around in front of the goal — as the rookie bench boss began work with his team, one of the youngest in the NHL.

Colorado has the NHL’s youngest captain, 20-year-old Gabriel Landeskog — and will have one of the league’s youngest players when Nathan MacKinnon, who just turned 18 on Sept. 1, makes his NHL debut.

Other members of the kiddie corps include two 22-year-olds, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly, who are expected to shoulder a major load offensively.

All told, the club only has seven guys — Alex Tanguay, PA Parenteau, David Van Der Gulik, Jan Hejda, Cory Sarich, Nate Guenin and JS Giguere — who are 30 or older, but Roy is looking forward to the challenge of instructing the younger players.

“We did a lot of teaching today, but I enjoyed that a lot,” Roy said. “I enjoyed what I saw.

“I was very impressed with our game today.”

Colorado’s defense could lead to an avalanche of goals against

Erik Johnson, Mike Brown

One thing the Avalanche weren’t very good at last season was preventing opponents from scoring goals. They were 27th in goals allowed which was a leading reason why they wound up in the NHL Draft lottery and picking first overall.

A big part of the blame for that fell on their defensemen. Bad news Avs fans: Not much has changed back there.

The two subtractions from last year’s team were Shane O’Brien and Greg Zanon. The latter was brought in to be a defensive stopper and failed to do much stopping at all. Meanwhile, O’Brien struggled to get into the lineup most of the season.

The only addition made to this year’s team was Cory Sarich who came over in a four-player swap with Calgary and he played rough third-pairing minutes on an equally defensively inept Flames team. He also wasn’t very good.

There are a couple of young guys who offer hope and will get thrown into the fire more this season.

Tyson Barrie is just 21-years-old but he led the team in average time on ice over his 32 games (21:35). Incredibly, he also led all defensemen in points with 13. His advanced numbers were strong which means he could (should?) see more responsibility on the blue line.

Likewise, Stefan Elliott, 22,  should get more time this season. In 18 games last season he had a goal and three assists and, like Barrie, put up respectable advanced numbers. The play of those two made it acceptable to part ways with Zanon and O’Brien.

The rest of the group with Hunwick, Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson, and Andre Benoit all offer complementary parts but not an overly dominating game.

Johnson should be the best of the bunch but has never taken the reins as a true No. 1 defenseman. Hejda is their “defensive stopper” and Wilson has a steady all-around game. Benoit and Hunwick could wind up fighting for the sixth spot with Sarich.

Long story short, it’s a flawed bunch with a pair of hopeful youngsters and a third, Duncan Siemens, waiting down the road. Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere had better be ready for another busy season in goal.

It’s Colorado Avalanche day on PHT

Gabriel Landeskog

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Colorado Avalanche

There may not have been another team this summer who embraced what it meant to go “back to the future” the way the Colorado Avalanche did.

They fired coach Joe Sacco and replaced him with Patrick Roy. Then they brought former captain Joe Sakic on board as the Executive VP of Hockey Operations all while GM Greg Sherman sits by nervously waiting for the ax to fall on him. Even former defenseman Adam Foote was also added as a defensive coach.

With all that change in the team, it seems to have invigorated some interest in what’s a fascinating young team. With Roy’s addition, the Avalanche will either be entertaining because they’ll be a fun, young team to watch or because Roy will lose his mind when they struggle. Win/win?

Offseason recap

Their front office and coaching stuff was only part of the fun. They brought back former Sakic linemate Alex Tanguay in a deal with Calgary that also saw Cory Sarich come to Denver. David Jones and Shane O’Brien headed out the door to make that happen.

The NHL Draft saw them land offensive powerhouse Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 overall pick. The team has already said MacKinnon will be right there to start the season and having him joining up with recently extended forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene gives Colorado one hell of a young core.

With focus on the youth, not much attention has been paid to long-time veteran Milan Hejduk who is hoping to catch on with another team. That must be awkward with all of his old teammates coming back to roost in the organization.

Free agency saw them not do a whole lot adding depth along the blue line with Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Nate Guenin (Anaheim), and Nick Holden (Columbus) joining the team. The latter two will likely spend more time in Cleveland in the AHL than Denver.

All that aside, hope everyone has their popcorn waiting for the moment Coach Roy blows his top the first time. It’s going to be great.


Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Flames look to keep pending RFA’s Backlund, Brodie

Calgary Flames v Los Angeles Kings

The Calgary Flames will look to keep a quartet of pending restricted free agents, and, as Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun reports, the paper work had to be filed by Tuesday.

Here is a snippet of what Sportak wrote on Monday. Read the full version here.

The first order of business is the offer sheets to the RFA class which consists of centre Mikael Backlund and defencemen T.J. Brodie, Chris Butler and Mark Cundari from the NHL roster. (That said, all of that paperwork is likely already filed.)

All four of those players are seen as key parts going forward for the rebuilding club. In fact, all four will be expected to take a bigger role with the Flames next season.

Backlund and Brodie are two players the Flames would be smart to bring back, especially at this stage in the franchise.

Both are original draft picks of the Flames, having worked their way up through the American Hockey League ranks with the Abbotsford Heat, and are still in the early stages of their NHL careers.

Last season, Backlund, a 24-year-old center, contributed 16 points in 32 regular season games for Calgary. Brodie, a 23-year-old smooth-skating defenseman with huge offensive upside, had 14 points in 47 games.

The Flames had been busy in the days leading up to the NHL Draft.

Last week, the Flames picked up right winger David Jones and defenseman Shane O’Brien from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Alex Tanguay and defenceman Cory Sarich.

It has also become evident that general manager Jay Feaster is trying desperately to trade forward Mike Cammalleri.