NCAA Frozen Four: Players to watch from every team in the tournament

Minnesota State goalie Stephon Williams (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

College hockey’s Frozen Four kicks off this week with 16 teams gunning for a spot in Boston, where the semifinal and final will be held in April. Regionals spread the squads across four cities and there is a lot of firepower at this year’s installment. But who are the players to watch for? Here’s a primer for every school, with an admitted bias towards NHL prospects.

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Rumor Roundup: Without an extension, O’Reilly’s time in Colorado could be up

o'reilly

Despite considerable speculation this season over forward Ryan O’Reilly‘s future with the Colorado Avalanche, the 24-year-old was not among those on the move at the recent trade deadline. While he’ll finish this season with the Avalanche, it remains to be seen how long he’ll remain in Colorado.

O’Reilly’s $6-million annual cap hit and eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July 2016 makes him a frequent subject for trade rumors. The Denver Post’s Terry Frei praises O’Reilly as a well-respected and terrific two-way player who could be the final piece of the championship puzzle for an elite team but notes the decline in his production makes it difficult to justify his expensive salary. Read more

Calgary Flames must learn from one-season wonders in Toronto, Colorado

Josh Elliott
Calgary Flames

We’re a few months removed from the NHL holiday break, but the Calgary Flames just encountered two ghosts of Christmas past who can teach them a thing or two about their future.

Those ghosts came in the forms of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche, two teams that have fallen off precipitously after seasons very similar to the one Calgary is enjoying right now.

The Calgary Flames are this season’s statistical outlier, defying expectations and analytics as they battle for a playoff berth in a year many expected them to battle for the top pick instead. They’re getting career performances from several players in their lineup and they’re fighting through injuries thanks to a mix of intangibles like leadership, determination, coaching and pure luck.

But they’d be wise not to get too far ahead of themselves, because fortune’s wheel is not kind to teams like the Flames.
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Semyon Varlamov’s huge glove save keeps Colorado’s playoff hopes alive

Jared Clinton
Semyon Varlamov

If the Colorado Avalanche have any shot at making the playoffs, they’re going to need Semyon Varlamov to be the goaltender he was last season. His glove save on Devils defenseman Jon Merrill in overtime should help inspire some confidence that he might be able to put the Avalanche into the postseason again.

With New Jersey and Colorado tied 1-1 with time winding down in the extra frame, Adam Henrique made a beautiful behind the back pass to Travis Zajac. Zajac saw Merrill breaking down the right wing and shuffled the puck over to the wing. Merrill had no defenders in front of him and a clear one-on-one with Varlamov, and with the puck sliding towards him he stepped into it, unloading a rocket of a slapshot. Varlamov was equal to the task: Read more

Semyon Varlamov injured – but here’s why the Avalanche will be OK

Matt Larkin
Semyon Varlamov.(Getty Images)

Minnesota Wild defenseman Mathew Dumba draws comparisons to Dion Phaneuf for many reasons. Both played junior with the Red Deer Rebels, both can dish out big hits…and both can hammer a puck.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov learned that the hard way Sunday night. A Dumba howitzer caught ‘Varly’ in the collarbone area during the second period:

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Top 10 Tanguay moments as he prepares for game 1,000

Alex Tanguay, left, and Milan Hejduk, right, celebrate Colorado's 2001 Stanley Cup championship. (Elsa/Getty Images)

It seems like it was only a couple of years back when Alex Tanguay was suiting up alongside fresh-faced Colorado Avalanche forwards like Chris Drury and Milan Hejduk, but, as of tonight, Tanguay will become a 1,000-game player.

Tanguay has made his career as a skillful set-up man, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been able to find his name in the goal column throughout his career. As he gets ready to suit up for the milestone game, fittingly with the same Colorado Avalanche he began his career with, here are the 10 best moments of Tanguay’s career: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Bernier, Stewart among five top remaining trade targets

Jonathan Bernier.  (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL trade deadline is only hours away. With Antoine Vermette dealt to Chicago and Curtis Glencross shipped off to Washington, the pool of available trade talent is quickly drying up. Here’s a look at the notable players who could be on the move and the clubs they’re linked to.

Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils. The 38-year-old blueliner has a no-trade clause which will limit where the Devils can ship him. He’s an experienced puck-moving defenseman with a right-handed shot, which could interest the Ducks and Red Wings. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty suggests the Bruins could also make a pitch. Read more

Picking winners of five blockbuster trades from the past 25 years

Ray Bourque (Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

25 YEARS AGO
RANGERS ACQUIRE: Mike Gartner
NORTH STARS ACQUIRE: Ulf Dahlen; 1990 4th-rounder (Cal McCowan); 1991 4th-rounder (Alexei Zhitnik)

THE BREAKDOWN: After a decade in Washington, Gartner hadn’t played a full season with the North Stars before being traded on deadline day 1990 for a package that included then-23-year-old Dahlen and two draft picks – the better of which (Zhitnik) was flipped to L.A. for two years of Todd Elik. Dahlen blossomed, scoring 92 goals in three seasons. But Gartner peeled off three straight seasons of at least 40 goals, playing a big role in two playoff runs before he was dealt to Toronto for Glenn Anderson a few months before the Blueshirts’ 1994 Cup win.

LONG-TERM WINNER: RANGERS Read more