Avs look to bolster defense corps with veteran Francois Beauchemin

Ken Campbell
Francois Beauchemin  (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche needed someone to defend, so they went out and got a defenseman who established a career-high in goals last season when they signed Francois Beachemin to a three-year deal worth a reported $4.5 million per season.

This, however, will be a good addition for the Avalanche, at least in the short term. Beauchemin is a veteran defenseman who can help stabilize the blueline corps in Colorado. The 11 goals last year was nice, but the Avs don’t necessarily need him to score that way with the likes of Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson providing much of the offense they need from the back end. Read more

CHL Import Draft: who is coming over?

Oliver Kylington (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The CHL’s Import Draft was held today, giving every major junior team on the continent a chance to pick up some prime European talent. Franchises are allowed to play two Euros on their roster, but no goaltenders. Teams that have a European player taken in the first round of the NHL can select a third player’s rights as well, in case the first-rounder ends up leaving.

With that out of the way, let’s look at how things went down. Consider this a non-comprehensive list, as I am cobbling together commitments or denials as I receive them from various sources in the industry.

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Colorado goes with big-time upside at the draft

Ryan Kennedy
A.J. Greer (left) and Nicolas Meloche (photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SUNRISE – It would have been pretty easy for left winger A.J. Greer to have returned to Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire this season and plunder the prep ranks. Instead, the Quebec-born power forward went to Boston University, where he was a teenaged freshman on a premier team.

Early on, Greer was a fourth-liner at best, sometimes a healthy scratch while teammate Jack Eichel destroyed the college ranks. But Greer persevered and by the time Boston was playing for the national title, he was a scoring winger on the second line. Now, he has been rewarded at the draft, as Colorado took him 39th overall.

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Eichel, O’Reilly and Legwand greasing skids for Hodgson buyout in Buffalo?

Ken Campbell
Ryan O'Reilly (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – There probably hasn’t been an NHL player involved in more trade rumors than Ryan O’Reilly has been for the past couple of years. So the fact that it finally happened on draft day shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

O’Reilly is a guy the Colorado Avalanche loved. On the ice. When it came to crossing swords with him over a contract, that’s an entirely different story. And like the Boston Bruins did with Dougie Hamilton, the Avalanche did not relish the idea of going through a difficult negotiation that might go sideways, so they dealt him.

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Rumor Roundup: Lucic trade talk heating up

GettyImages-469162426-MilanLucic

Considering the increased trade speculation entering the 2015 draft, it’s only fitting Boston Bruins left winger Milan Lucic and defenseman Dougie Hamilton should resurface in the rumor mill. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Bruins are listening to offers for Lucic. The asking price is apparently “big,” though Garrioch didn’t mention specifics.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty notes there was talk of the Bruins shipping the 27-year-old Lucic to the New York Rangers for defenseman (and Boston native) Keith Yandle. Another rumor linked the power forward to the Vancouver Canucks for a defenseman. Haggerty claims Canucks blueliner Alex Edler was mentioned in previous Bruins trade rumors. He also wonders if the Bruins could target Kevin Bieksa or Dan Hamhuis.

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Predators play it safe with Fisher, Avalanche play it risky with Soderberg

Carl Soderberg. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Two signings, two centers, two Central Division teams, two very different meanings.

Unrestricted free agent to-be Mike Fisher, 35, will return to the Nashville Predators. Fisher signed a two-year, $8.8-million deal. Is $4.4 million per year a bit much for a 35-year-old veteran who has never topped 25 goals or 53 points? Maybe, but it was a matter of Nashville’s needs. General manager David Poile couldn’t risk losing one of his top two centers, especially with UFA Mike Ribeiro’s status up in the air. Fisher loves Nashville, Nashville loves Fisher, and his country star wife Carrie Underwood is based there. The two-year term makes the meaty cap hit palatable, too.

Colorado’s signing of Carl Soderberg, who turns 30 Oct. 12, is much more eyebrow-raising. The Avalanche acquired the 6-foot-3, 216-pound pivot’s rights from the Boston Bruins Thursday and locked him up to a five-year, $23.75-million contract. So whereas the Preds will play $4.4 million for a sure thing, if an unexciting one, the Avs bet big on the unproven Soderberg for $4.75 million a year.

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2015 Draft Preview – It’s step forward, step backwards for Colorado Avalanche

Conner Bleackley (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche endured quite the reality check in 2014-15, vindicating the stat geeks who predicted a massive regression after a “lucky” Central Division title run the year prior. Colorado’s flashy young forwards and great goaltending weren’t enough. A lack of brawn and defensive ability all over the roster proved too much to overcome. The Avs slid from the NHL’s third-best record to out of the playoffs. Their development plan has a long way to go.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 10
Round 2, pick 40
Round 3, pick 71
Round 4, pick 101
Round 6, pick 161
Round 7, pick 191

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
Late-blooming Erik Johnson is a nice story, but this team does not have a bona fide No. 1 defenseman – and perhaps not even a No. 2. The Avs need a stronger two-way presence up the middle, too. They missed Paul Stastny. Some size on the wings would help them sustain a forecheck better. Read more

Top 5 NHL stars-turned-coaches

Larry Robinson (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Members of the NHL’s coaching community come from a wide variety of backgrounds – some, like Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, have degrees in social work; others, like Dallas’ Lindy Ruff, are hockey lifers with a background as a worker bee NHLer – but, for the most part, very few of the game’s elite stars have found success as bench bosses. The reasons for it are complex, but by-and-large, the best of the best usually prefer to spend their time away from the type of high-pressure environment occupied by a coach in hockey’s top league. And that’s why news the Red Wings were close to naming Hockey-Hall-of-Famer Chris Chelios as an assistant to new head coach Jeff Blashill is interesting: you rarely see a former player of his calibre at ice level without his equipment on.

Who are the best modern-era players who have evolved into NHL coaches or assistant coaches? Here are the Top 5:

5. Adam Oates. Like the other players who made this list, Oates is a Hall-of-Famer who amassed 1,420 points in 1,337 regular-season games and is regarded as one of the better playmakers in league history. He began his post-career coaching days as an assistant in Tampa Bay and then New Jersey, before the Capitals made him their head coach in June of 2012. And although he failed to make the playoffs in two years guiding the Capitals before he was fired at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, Oates quickly returned behind the bench with the Devils as a “co-coach” alongside Scott Stevens midway through this past year. He’ll likely get another shot, at least, as an assistant, with another NHL franchise. Read more