Chris Bigras


Alain Vigneault got an interesting call from Patrick Roy this past summer


Patrick Roy quit the Colorado Avalanche due to “philosophical differences” with GM Joe Sakic. That much we know for sure.

And while those differences were never explained in full detail, it sure sounds like one of them — and let’s face it, there were probably a bunch of them — was the assessment of defenseman Nick Holden.

To refresh your memory, Sakic traded Holden to the Rangers in June, and all the Avs got in return was a fourth-round draft pick in 2017.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault remembers the trade well.

“It was funny, we were coming back from (the draft in) Buffalo, I got a call as I got off the plane in Ottawa from Patrick Roy saying to me, ‘You just got one of my better defensemen,'” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“And I don’t know why Pat called me out of the blue.”

Yeah, funny.

For the record, we’re not suggesting that the Holden trade tore the Colorado Avalanche apart. At the end of the day, it was a minor trade. But it may have been illustrative of the philosophical differences between Roy and Sakic. The former was clearly a Holden fan. The latter thought he was worth a fourth-round pick.

According to Vigneault, Holden has been a good early fit with the Rangers (4-2-0). The 29-year-old, whose cap hit is just $1.65 million, has logged over 20 minutes a game while skating mostly on the top pairing with Ryan McDonagh, who’s been excellent to start the season.

It remains to be seen if Holden and McDonagh, both left shots, will remain together all year. McDonagh spent most of last year with right-shooting Dan Girardi or Kevin Klein, but those two are currently paired with Brady Skjei and Marc Staal, respectively. The healthy scratches last game were both rights shots, Adam Clendening and Dylan McIlrath, the latter of whom is reportedly on the trading block.

So a lot could still change with this Rangers defense, which came into the season under a powerful microscope. The early returns have been encouraging, though. (Or, at the very least, not as poor as many had expected.)

Meanwhile, the Avs’ back end remains a work in progress. Sakic said the Holden trade would open up opportunities for youngsters Nikita ZadorovChris Bigras, and Duncan Siemens; however, the latter two didn’t make the team out of camp and Zadorov has averaged just 16:25 of ice time so far.

In Colorado’s first five games, new coach Jared Bednar has leaned heavily on Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, and Francois Beauchemin, with support from Zadorov, Eric Gelinas and free-agent additions Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Wiercioch.

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.

Report: Avs could be targeting Jets’ Trouba

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By looking at their roster, it’s no secret that the Colorado Avalanche would like to upgrade their defense going into next season.

Tyson Barrie, who is one of the better puck movers on the Avs blue line, is a restricted free agent and there are rumblings that Colorado might not be interested in bringing him back at the salary he’s looking for. The Avalanche also have an older Francois Beauchmin, and Erik Johnson, who had a down year in 2015-16. Nick Holden, Eric Gelinas, Nikita Zadorov and Chris Bigras are under contract next season.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they’re looking to add pieces on defense.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, one of their potential targets is Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba.

“Tyson Barrie‘s future there is not that certain but I don’t think [the Avalanche] want to trade him until they can add some help,” said Friedman during his “Headlines” segment on Saturday. “I believe one of the targets is Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba. I’m not saying Winnipeg’s going to do it, but I think that’s a player Colorado would like to get its hands on.”

Trouba’s points-per-game have decreased in each of his three seasons in the NHL, but it would still likely take a significant offer to get him out of Winnipeg.

The 22-year-old had six goals, 21 points and a plus-10 rating while averaging 22:03 of ice time per game. Like Barrie, Trouba will also become an RFA on July 1st.

With three defensemen scheduled to make over $5.5 million next season (Toby Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers), the Jets might not want to pay Trouba big money so soon. Byfuglien’s new contract extension, which comes with a cap hit of $7.6 million, kicks in next year.


Trouba to meet with agent to ‘strategize’ for contract talks with Jets

Avalanche make a deal with the Devils, acquire Eric Gelinas for a draft pick

Associated Press

The Colorado Avalanche have been the busiest team on a quiet trade deadline day.

The Avs acquired defenseman Eric Gelinas from the New Jersey Devils for a third-round pick in 2017.

This move comes less than an hour after Colorado picked up Mikkel Boedker from Arizona.

Gelinas showed some promise in his first year (2013-14) when he scored seven goals and 29 points in 60 games. Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, he and coach John Hynes never seemed to be on the same page this season.

“I was never under the impression that my coaches had confidence in me,” Gelinas told a french-language radio station in Montreal just moments ago.

Gelinas had been a healthy scratch in nine consecutive games.

He should become a regular on a Colorado team that’s lacking depth on the blue line.

The Avs currently have Francois Beauchemin, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden, Chris Bigras, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Zach Redmond on their roster.

Gelinas is signed through next season at a cap hit of $1.575 million.

Colorado’s busy afternoon might be over.


Avs waive veteran d-man Guenin, again

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Less than a month after exposing Nate Guenin to waivers, the Avs are at it again.

On Friday, Colorado placed the veteran defenseman on the wire (per TVA), just hours after he was scratched from a 4-3 win over Ottawa on Thursday night.

Guenin, 33, has only appeared in 29 games for the Avs this year, going pointless while averaging just over 13 minutes per night. It’s a far cry from the ’14-15 campaign, in which he posted career highs in games played (76), assists (13) and points (15).

Guenin appears to have been passed on the depth chart by Andrew Bodnarchuk and Chris Bigras, both of whom played against the Sens (another defenseman, Zach Redmond, was a healthy scratch along with Guenin).

Per General Fanager, today’s move might be more about shedding a contract than anything else: