Tag: Duncan Siemens

Erik Johnson, Mike Brown

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


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.

Lightning prospect Brett Connolly injured at Team Canada WJC camp

Brett Connolly

August is usually when things get quiet hockey-wise, but for the World Junior Championship teams, it’s their time to see what they’ve got talent-wise. Team Canada’s development camp is under way in Edmonton, and while the rosters aren’t set yet for the Canadians, they’re able to get a good look at what they’ve got for now.

The one thing you want to avoid in these situations is injuries, and Team Canada got a scare tonight as 2010 Tampa Bay Lightning first round pick Brett Connolly left the ice with what appeared to be a leg injury when he was tripped up from behind by 2011 Colorado Avalanche first round pick Duncan Siemens.

NHL.com’s Mike Morreale has the update from Edmonton on how Connolly is doing.

Team Canada head coach Don Hay doesn’t believe the “lower body” injury to be serious despite the fact he needed the assistance of two persons to exit the ice surface and reach the trainer’s room.

“I was talking to the doctor and we’ll re-evaluate (Friday), but right now it doesn’t look as bad as maybe first thought,” Hay said. “It may be a bad bruise. He’ll be able to recover to play over the weekend.”

It’s good that Connolly isn’t hurt as bad as was initially thought, and for the Lightning they’re even happier to hear that. While Connolly may not have been likely to challenge for a roster spot this year, hopes are very high for him to eventually be a big scoring contributor for them in the future.

Connolly was a key member of Team Canada’s WJC team last year in helping them to win the silver medal and being one of seven players from last year’s team at this summer’s development camp means he’s in line to earn a spot on the 2012 WJC team. Canada will be looking to get revenge against Russia after being upset in the gold medal game 5-3 back in January.

With the event being held in Edmonton and Calgary this time around, Team Canada’s home ice advantage in the tournament will be immense as will the pressure to win gold for the first time since 2009. Losing in the finals the last two years to the United States and Russia is leaving a bad taste in the mouth of Team Canada. Making sure their best players are in shape and healthy is key, and Connolly will be a big part of this year’s team. If Team Canada can get things figured out and keep the injuries away, they’ll enter the tournament once again as heavy favorites expected to take home the gold in January.

First rounder round-up: Landeskog, Siemens, and Miller sign entry-level deals

Duncan Siemens
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Both the Colorado Avalanche and the New York Rangers did a little planning for the future today as they signed their 2011 first round draft picks to entry-level deals. Colorado signed 2nd overall pick Gabriel Landeskog and 11th overall pick Duncan Siemens to three-year entry-level deals worth $832,500 per season and $277,500 signing bonus per RDS reporter Renaud P Lavoie. Likewise, the Rangers were able to reach an agreement with their first round selection, 15th overall JT Miller. Terms of Miller’s deal have not been released, but like Landeskog and Siemens, it’s a three-year entry-level deal.

Signing an entry-level deal is only the first step for three players who are traveling very different paths. Both Landeskog and Siemens will head to Colorado’s training camp in September, but the organization and fans have different expectations for the two prospects.

Duncan Siemens will get the opportunity to go through his first NHL training camp, but it would be shocking if he stayed with the big club this season. More than likely, the defenseman will head back to the Saskatoon Blades to continue his development at the junior level. Last season, Siemens had 5 goals, 38 assists, and 121 PIMs with an extremely talented Blades team. Stay-at-home defenders usually take a little longer to fully develop their game and Siemens is no different. If he can continue to add muscle and round out his offensive game over the next few years, he’ll be a nice addition to the Avalanche blueline.

On the other hand, Landeskog will have every chance to make the NHL out of training camp. Entering the draft, the Swedish left-winger was widely regarded as the “most NHL ready” player in the entire draft. His leadership and high-end skill should help him make the transition sooner rather than later. But there’s another factor that will help push Landeskog into the NHL next season: his cap hit. No, not because he has a rookie salary that is relatively cheap; because his approximate $3.75 million cap hit will help the Avs hit the cap floor. Adrian Dater has the specifics of the two Colorado contracts:

“Both players’ base salaries — if they make the Avs’ roster this coming season — will be $925,000. But their salary cap number would be considerably higher. In Landeskog’s case, he’ll have a $3.575 million cap hit if he makes the team — with his base salary, an $850,000 signing bonus and $1.8 million in other potential bonuses built into the contract. Siemens has a similar deal, but exact figures beyond the base salary were not available.”

For the Rangers, their first round prospect JT Miller has still a different path than Siemens and Landeskog. The 18-year-old spent last season with the U.S. Under-18 team before signing his entry-level deal today. Originally slated for the University of North Dakota, Miller de-committed in favor of the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. The gritty forward that loves to throw the body will continue to improve his overall game in the OHL over the next few years. If he can improve his skating, he could end up as a valuable player creating energy and chipping in some points for the Rangers.

Signing entry-level deals is only the first step for all of these prospects who have plenty of pro potential. If they play this season in juniors, the three-year contracts will be delayed and the clock will not start ticking on their deals. The next step is for each player to continue developing and fulfilling all of the promise that will have both the Rangers and Avalanche organizations excited for years to come.