Report: Avs may file for arbitration against O’Reilly (Update: They have)

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After playing things cool the past two seasons, relations between the Colorado Avalanche and forward Ryan O’Reilly may be about to get heated up again.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Avs may file for club-elected salary arbitration on O’Reilly, a restricted free agent. Two seasons ago, the two sides butted heads on a contract until the Calgary Flames signed O’Reilly to a two-year, $10 million offer sheet the Avs quickly matched.

This time around, things could get a bit hairy for Colorado if they go down this road with O’Reilly.

In order for Colorado to retain his rights to negotiate with him, they have to make a $6.5 million qualifying offer to him. The Avs could negotiate a long-term deal with him or they can take him to arbitration. As McKenzie noted, the latter choice isn’t made very often and if O’Reilly agrees to go to arbitration, he can pick a one or two-year award.

At worst for O’Reilly, the arbitrator could side with the Avs and award him an amount lower than $6.5 million. The worst that can be is 85-percent of that total ($5.525 million). Still a good haul but not what he could’ve gotten had the Avs just qualified him.

On the other hand, O’Reilly could win his case and the Avs could be on the hook for a cap hit exceeding $7 million for one or two years. It’d be tough for the Avs to make a case against a guy who had 28 goals and 64 points last season while playing a strong two-way game.

Things didn’t go well when the two tried to work out a deal two years ago and going through this sort of rigmarole again could lead to a holdout or a trade demand.

Update (6:12 p.m. ET): Right after posting this, the Avs have indeed filed for arbitration.

This doesn’t have to have a dire ending for either side. An arbitration hearing is the last straw, but they can get a deal worked out before a hearing even happens. Going this route just provides some closure in some way, although O’Reilly can still be signed to an offer sheet between July 1-5. That wasn’t the case under the old CBA.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.