Brad Stuart

Avs make trio of moves, bring aboard Colborne, Wiercioch and Tyutin

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Colorado opened free agency with three pretty cost-effective moves.

The Avs first inked former Sens d-man Patrick Wiercioch to a one-year, $800,000 deal, then signed rangy Calgary center Joe Colborne to a two-year, $5 million deal with a $2.5M average annual cap hit.

Joe Sakic wasn’t done there, however. The Avs GM then scooped up veteran blueliner Fedor Tyutin — bought out by Columbus earlier this week — to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Colborne, 26, went unrestricted after Calgary failed to make him a qualifying offer. He’s coming off a career year in which he posted personal bests in goals (19) and points (44), averaging just over 15 minutes a night in 73 games played.

Tyutin, 32, struggled through a down ’15-16 campaign — he only played in 61 games, and was made a healthy scratch by head coach John Tortorella — but there were reports of teams looking to add him at the trade deadline, specifically Detroit.

Wiercioch, like Colborne, wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer, which ended his time in Ottawa. The 25-year-old had a disappointing ’15-16 campaign in the Canadian capital, recording just five assists in 52 games. Wiercioch did, however, have strong possession numbers at even strength in three of his five seasons with Ottawa.

He and Tyutin will now both contend for minutes on a new-look Avs blueline, after Sakic traded away Nick Holden and bought out Brad Stuart.

 

Colorado shakes up blueline again, will buy out Stuart

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Brad Stuart‘s time is up in Colorado.

Per the Denver Post, the Avs are set to buy out the veteran defenseman of the final year of his contract — a two-year, $7.2 million deal with a $3.6M average annual cap hit.

Because Stuart is 36, Colorado won’t receive any salary cap relief with the buyout. It will, however, save $1.2 million in cash (two-thirds of Stuart’s salary is to be paid out over the course of this year and the next.)

A 16-year veteran, Stuart barely played for the Avs last year, missing extensive time with a back injury (and subsequent surgery). He appeared in just six games all told.

With this move and the trade of Nick Holden to the Rangers at the draft, Avs GM Joe Sakic has opened up some spots on defense. The goal is to have some of the organization’s young prospects make the leap to full-time NHL status.

Sakic told the Post that Nikita Zadorov (21 years old), Chris Bigras (21) and ’11 first-round pick Duncan Siemens (22) will have “every opportunity to try and make this team.”

Sakic added that 25-year-old Eric Gelinas, acquired from New Jersey at last year’s trade deadline, is also in the mix for minutes.

On that note, it’s probably worth mentioning the Avs passed on qualifying d-man Brandon Gormley and won’t re-sign UFA blueliner Zach Redmond.

That would seemingly put some pressure on Sakic to get a deal done with pending RFA Tyson Barrie. Though Barrie has been the subject of trade rumors over the last months, the Avs have said they’re not dealing him away.

Justin Schultz headlines list of RFAs not extended qualifying offers

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After hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this month, Justin Schultz could soon be joining another NHL team.

The Penguins didn’t extend Schultz a qualifying offer Monday, which means he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Already facing a cap crunch, Pittsburgh, had it opted to give Schultz a qualifying offer, would have to match his entire $3.9 million salary from his one-year contract in 2015-16.

The Penguins acquired Schultz from Edmonton just prior to the trade deadline, with GM Jim Rutherford praising his offensive upside, while admitting Schultz needed work in the defensive end.

Schultz played in 15 playoff games for Pittsburgh, adding an assist in the Cup-clinching win. However, it was shortly after winning the championship that it appeared his price tag would be too much for the Penguins.

Related: The Penguins are playing Schultz to his strengths

More notables:

Joe Colborne

The Calgary Flames did not offer the 26-year-old Joe Colborne a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. He hit career highs in goals (19) and points (44) — also with a career-high shooting percentage of 19 per cent.

He wrapped up a two-year deal, worth $1.275 million.

The Flames also didn’t qualify center Josh Jooris and goalie Joni Ortio.

Ortio split the 2015-16 season between the Flames and their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat. With Calgary, he had a 7-9-5 record with a .902 save percentage, and was waived to go down to the minors, where he also struggled.

In a bid to bolster their goaltending situation, the Flames acquired Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues at the draft.

Brett Connolly

Once the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Brett Connolly didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Boston Bruins, after scoring nine goals and a single-season career high 25 points in 71 games with this season.

He was playing on a one-year, $1.025 million contract.

From CSNNE.com:

He struggled to produce offense even though he spent long stretches playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand last season. Still, he was the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft and the Bruins gave up two second-round picks to Tampa Bay for him less than two years ago, so the move is somewhat unexpected.

Landon Ferraro

Another interesting decision from the Bruins, who claimed Landon Ferraro off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings in November. The 24-year-old forward, on a one-year deal worth $600,000 for 2015-16, had five goals and 10 points — all with the Bruins as a member of their bottom-six group of forwards — this past season.

After getting claimed by Boston but before he played a game for that franchise, Bruins coach Claude Julien described Ferraro as a “reliable” player.

Linden Vey

Jim Benning, at his first draft as the Canucks general manager, used a second-round pick to acquire Linden Vey from the L.A. Kings, but the Canucks did not qualify him Monday.

That doesn’t come as much of a surprise, with Vey reportedly expecting the Canucks not to make him a qualifying offer.

The 24-year-old Vey scored four goals and 15 points in 41 games this past season, after he was recalled from AHL Utica.

Prior to the beginning of this past season, Vey was put on waivers and eventually sent down to the minors, before getting recalled. In his first season with the Canucks, he entered training camp and was immediately given first-unit power play duties. He ended up scoring 10 goals and 24 points that season.

Off the ice, however, Vey has been troubled by family turmoil. Last month, it was reported in The Province newspaper that Vey’s father, Curtis, was set to go to trail on charges of conspiracy to murder his wife.

Brandon Pirri

The Ducks acquired Brandon Pirri from the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline. A year removed from a 22-goal season in Florida, Pirri then had three goals and five points in nine games with the Ducks.

From the Orange County Register:

Pirri is arbitration eligible and with 14 combined goals with the Ducks and Panthers last season, he could get a bump up from his $975,000 salary and the Ducks appear to want that slot open for a cheaper, more multi-dimensional forward.

— Brandon Gormley

According to the Denver Post, the Colorado Avalanche didn’t tender a qualifying offer to 24-year-old defenseman Brandon Gormley, once a 13th overall pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010.

He has been unable to turn that into an established position at the NHL level.

He struggled in Colorado, eventually getting put on waivers. He split time between the Avalanche and San Antonio Rampage in the minors.

According to the aforementioned report, the Avalanche also plan to buy out the contract of 36-year-old defenseman Brad Stuart.

Not old news: Artemi Panarin wins 2016 Calder Trophy

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Jacob Tremblay announced that Chicago Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin won the 2016 Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year for 2015-16.

The other finalists were Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) and Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia Flyers).

Panarin scored 30 goals and his 77 points topped all rookies by a healthy margin. His strong season generated bonuses that are putting quite the squeeze on the Blackhawks.

“Ghost” didn’t win, although he did get a boost at the bank:

As expected, it was a pretty close race. Panarin is the first Blackhawks player to win the Calder since Patrick Kane:

2015-2016 Calder Trophy Voting

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Artemi Panarin, CHI 1258 (88-41-16-3-2)
2. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI 955 (33-53-42-12-8)
3. Connor McDavid, EDM 858 (25-45-48-15-8)
4. Jack Eichel, BUF 449 (2-9-25-72-25)
5. Dylan Larkin, DET 170 (1-0-8-23-51)
6. Max Domi, ARI 92 (0-2-2-12-32)
7. John Gibson, ANA 62 (0-0-5-9-10)
8. Colton Parayko, STL 52 (1-0-4-4-10)
9. Sam Reinhart, BUF 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
10. Anthony Duclair, ARI 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Jaccob Slavin, CAR 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Calder Trophy Winners Since 1990

Year Winner Runner-up
2016 Artemi Panarin, Chi. S. Gostisbehere, Phi.
2015 Aaron Ekblad, Fla. Mark Stone, Ott.
2014 Nathan MacKinnon, Col. Ondrej Palat, T.B.
2013 Jonathan Huberdeau, Fla. B. Gallagher, Mtl.
2012 Gabriel Landeskog, Col. R. Nugent-Hopkins, Edm.
2011 Jeff Skinner, Car. Logan Couture, S.J.
2010 Tyler Myers, Buf. Jimmy Howard, Det.
2009 Steve Mason, CBJ Bobby Ryan, Ana
2008 Patrick Kane, Chi. N. Backstrom, Wsh
2007 Evgeni Malkin, Pit. Paul Stastny, Col.
2006 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Sidney Crosby, Pit.
2004 Andrew Raycroft, Bos. Michael Ryder, Mtl.
2003 Barret Jackman, St.L Henrik Zetterberg, Det.
2002 Dany Heatley, Atl. Ilya Kovalchuk, Atl.
2001 Evgeni Nabokov, S.J. Brad Richards, T.B.
2000 Scott Gomez, N.J. Brad Stuart, S.J.
1999 Chris Drury, Col. Marian Hossa, Ott.
1998 Sergei Samsonov, Bos. Mattias Ohlund, Van.
1997 Bryan Berard, NYI Jarome Iginla, Cgy.
1996 Daniel Alfredsson, Ott. Eric Daze, Chi.
1995 Peter Forsberg, Que. Jim Carey, Wsh.
1994 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Jason Arnott, Edm.
1993 Teemu Selanne, Wpg. Joe Juneau, Bos.
1992 Pavel Bure, Van. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1991 Ed Belfour, Chi. Sergei Fedorov, Det.
1990 Sergei Makarov, Cgy. Mike Modano, Min.

Avalanche jump back into Wild Card spot with win over Oilers

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Gabriel Landeskog came back at the right time for the Colorado Avalanche.

Landeskog had a goal and an assist in his return from a three-game suspension as the Avalanche beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 Sunday night for their third straight win.

“I felt good. It’s tough watching,” Landeskog said. “I was hungry and ready to go. But the guys have done a great job throughout the road trip to make sure we’re in a great spot and I was just hungry to come out and help out.”

The Colorado captain’s offense was badly needed with his team currently without their two leading scorers, injured centers Matt Duchene and Nathan McKinnon, and in the midst of a heated playoff race.

Tyson Barrie and Blake Comeau also scored for the Avalanche, currently one point ahead of Minnesota for the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Calvin Pickard had 26 saves.

“We played really well,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. “I thought we had a great start and our power play was outstanding. Our puck possession was outstanding, we were able to hold on to the puck in the O-zone and we had a lot of shots. I was very happy with the performance of the team.”

Matt Hendricks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for Edmonton, which snapped a two-game winning streak.

“Tonight was one of those games where it was a desperate team battling for the playoffs,” Oilers forward Mark Letestu said. “It really showed early on. Their pace was higher than ours.”

With the loss, the Oilers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for the 10th consecutive year.

“We may not be a playoff team, but we have playoff fans,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “At some point, we have to reward them.”

Landeskog and Barrie scored in the second period to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead.

Landeskog took a feed from Carl Soderberg in front and showed good patience before sending a backhand shot past sprawling goalie Laurent Brossoit at 1:19. Barrie;s point shot deflected off of defender Mark Fayne and into the Edmonton net with 8:29 left.

Hendricks got the Oilers on the scoreboard with his second goal in two games at 2:53 of the third. Mark Letestu battled hard in front to sweep a puck to Hendricks, who tapped his second goal in as many games into a wide-open net.

However, Comeau deflected Erik Johnson‘s shot to restore Colorado two-goal lead at 9:09.

Nugent-Hopkins closed the scoring as he converted a pass from Connor McDavid with just under 7.6 seconds remaining.

Brossoit finished with 22 saves to fall to 0-3-1 this season.

There was no scoring in the first period, with Colorado putting 12 shots on Brossoit and the Oilers taking eight shots on Pickard.

NOTES: It was the third and final game of the season between the two teams this season, with Colorado winning all three. … The Avalanche have suddenly been hit by the injury bug, with Matt Duchene (knee), Nathan MacKinnon (knee), Eric Gelinas (elbow), Brad Stuart (back) and Jesse Winchester (head) all out, although Landeskog did return after serving a three-game suspension. … The Oilers have been injured pretty much all year, currently without Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee) and Adam Pardy (hand).