Avalanche name Jared Bednar coach after Calder Cup-winning AHL campaign

Jared Clinton
Jared Bednar (Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Avalanche are hoping an AHL and ECHL title can cross over to NHL success as they’ve hired now-former Cleveland Monsters coach Jared Bednar to take over as bench boss in Colorado.

Bednar, 44, is coming off of a tremendously successful season in the AHL in which he coached the Monsters to a Calder Cup in just his second year behind the bench. During the post-season run with the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, Bednar’s Monsters club lost just two games, with both defeats coming at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins in the second round. Cleveland, then known as Lake Erie, swept both the conference and Calder Cup finals.

“After profiling the type of coach I wanted for our team and going through an interview process with several good candidates, I believe that Jared Bednar is the best person to lead this team behind the bench,” said Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. “Jared’s track record of success as a head coach in the American Hockey League speaks for itself and he is considered to be one of the top up-and-coming coaches in our business.” Read more

Five 2015 draft picks set to make impactful NHL debuts next season

Dylan Strome during the 2015-16 pre-season (Harry How/Getty Images)

The hype surrounding Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick and first-overall selection Auston Matthews isn’t unwarranted, but sometimes lost in the excitement surround Matthews is the fact that there’s a fair chance he won’t be the rookie that makes the biggest difference this coming season.

That doesn’t just go for Matthews, either. Winnipeg Jets fans are excited about Patrik Laine, Edmonton Oilers fans have high hopes for Jesse Puljujarvi, Matthew Tkachuk’s got his sights set on the making the Calgary Flames this coming season and the Columbus Blue Jackets might even see Pierre-Luc Dubois make the jump to the NHL.

But the fresh faces of the 2016 draft class shouldn’t make us forget about the talented group of youngsters drafted in 2015 who could find their way into the NHL and become top scorers or go-to players for their respective clubs. Here are five 2015 draftees yet to see an NHL game who stand to be impact players in 2016-17: Read more

So why hasn’t your team done anything this off-season?

Flyers GM Ron Hextall. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

August marks hockey’s “silly season.” Very little happens. And idle hands are the devils’ playthings, right? Countless blog commenters and Twitter trolls dust off the “Slow news day?” insult whenever we find something to talk about. During the month before NHL training camps begin, fan bases twiddle their thumbs. And think. And overthink. And worry.

“Why hasn’t my team DONE anything this off-season?”

You know who you are. You, from that city with the sandwich everyone needs to try. Your team has been uncomfortably quiet this off-season, with nary a big trade or free agent splash. Should you panic over your team’s 2016-17 outlook? Or will you end up patting your favorite GM on the back for staying the course?

Here’s a rundown of the summer’s most tranquil teams – and whether their fan bases should worry.

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Blue Jackets’ Sam Gagner took huge pay cut, but opportunity in Columbus has him excited

Jared Clinton
Sam Gagner #89 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks to pass the puck against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 18, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sam Gagner is heading to the Columbus Blue Jackets next season on a one-year, $650,000 deal. It’s a pay cut — a big one — for the 26-year-old, but the contract is almost inconsequential given the Blue Jackets could provide Gagner the chance to get his career back on track.

Over the past two years, Gagner hasn’t been able to find solid footing in the NHL, which is bizarre considering he was a first-round pick in 2007 and has shown consistent scoring ability almost everywhere he’s been.

From June 2014 to June 2016, Gagner was traded three times, sent to the minors and forced to watch from the sidelines as a healthy scratch. He went from having consistent 15-goal, 35-point seasons with the Edmonton Oilers to being a fourth-line player with the Philadelphia Flyers this past season, scoring a career-worst eight goals and 16 points in just 53 games. Signing with the Blue Jackets, though, gives Gagner hope that he can right the ship as he enters what should be the prime years of his career.

“All I’m looking for is an opportunity,” Gagner told the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline. “Last year was a down year. I played some pretty good hockey down the stretch, but overall, I feel like I’m a lot better player than my statistics showed last year.” Read more

Report: Sam Gagner closing in on one-year deal with Blue Jackets

Jared Clinton
Sam Gagner #89 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks to pass the puck against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 18, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have less than $4.5  million in salary cap space for the upcoming campaign, but that’s not going to stop them from making some minor tweaks and additions to their roster.

According to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets and Sam Gagner are closing in on signing a one-year, one-way deal that will bring the 26-year-old to Columbus next season.

Gagner should come in relatively cheap and shouldn’t eat into the Blue Jackets’ available salary cap space too much. Coming off of an eight goal and 16-point season in 53 games this past season, it’s not the worst gamble for the Blue Jackets to take, either. And with a hole in the bottom-six — and a depth center job open for whoever can step up and take it — Gagner’s ability to play both center and the wing makes him a perfect fit. Read more

Signing bonuses could become next CBA battleground

Jamie Benn (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the NHL announced last fall its seven-year partnership that will see adidas become its official outfitter starting next season, your trusty correspondent asked commissioner Gary Bettman whether the deal would be extended by a year if there were another labor dispute. Bettman responded with a one-word answer.

“Really?” Bettman asked, with a good amount of offense and incredulity. Well, about as much offense and incredulity as someone who has shut down the game three times in the past 20 years could muster.

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Down Goes Brown: Five expected off-season moves that haven’t happened yet

Kevin Shattenkirk (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The dog days of the NHL offseason got a nice jolt on Monday when the Senators and Rangers hooked up on a decent-sized trade. The deal sends Derick Brassard and a seventh to Ottawa in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a second, improving the Senators’ top six while adding some youth to the Rangers and giving them some additional cap room to work with.

The trade also answered one of the offseason’s lingering questions, which was: When are the Rangers going to get around to doing something? We were all told to expect a busy offseason in New York, as GM Jeff Gorton would look to shake up his aging and expensive core. But until this week, not much had happened aside from a few minor free agency signings. Trading Broussard isn’t exactly a blockbuster, but at least now the Rangers are on the board.

But that still leaves a few more stories lingering in the “still waiting” file. Here are five moves everyone went into the offseason expecting to see that still haven’t happened yet. Read more

Canucks want to add ‘proven scorer’ — who could fit the bill?

Scott Hartnell (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks made some off-season moves in hopes of increasing their scoring this coming campaign, adding Loui Eriksson to potentially play alongside the Sedin twins and locking up youngsters Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi and Emerson Etem.

And while the Eriksson signing all but guarantees the Canucks another 20-goal player for the 2016-17 season, there are still some questions about the young contingent of players.

Baertschi, 23, looked to finally hit his stride with a 15-goal campaign and he could have a 20-goal season in him if he catches fire or finds chemistry with his linemates. However, Canucks GM Jim Benning doesn’t seem too keen on simply gambling that Baertschi’s scoring ability will continue to increase. For that reason, he wants to add another scorer.

“We’d like to add a proven scorer who brings some grit to take the pressure off Sven, so he can keep developing at his own pace,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun’s Ben Kuzma. “He took a big step last year and wants to prove to people that he has more to give. But I don’t know where he’s going to end up (next season). At some point, that (second line) is where he’s going to be, but maybe he plays on the third line with the capability of playing on the power play and potentially scoring 15 to 20 goals for us.” Read more