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Tag:Erik Johnson
Posted on: February 13, 2012 7:05 pm
 

Could Kings look to Stastny for offensive help?

Stastny is signed through 2013-14 for $6.6 million per. (US Presswire)

By Brian Stubits

The Los Angeles Kings are still in the playoff hunt and hanging tight behind the San Jose Sharks (who have games in hand) in the Pacific Division. That is all despite bringing up the rear in the NHL as far as goals per game goes and are shooting a putrid 6.8 percent this season.

So if there is any team in the league that needs scoring help at the trade deadline, it's the Kings. Imagine how could they would be if Jonathan Quick had just a little more goal support.

But it's not like top-six forwards are aplenty at this time of year, especially this season. But perhaps there could be one in Colorado as the Avalanche slowly start to slip out of the Western Conference playoff race. Specifically Avalanche forward Paul Stastny.

Before we go any further, note that this is just speculation, nothing more.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here is the gossip from the Fourth Period.

"[The Kings] healthy scratched Dustin Penner and put two rookies (Dwight King and Jordan Nolan) playing their first NHL game this season with Mike Richards against the Islanders, looks like they've hit the panic button to me," an NHL insider said Saturday evening. "I know Statsny is a center, but so is Jeff Carter and Paul only has two years left on his deal and there are zero concerns with his attitude."

With the Avalanche having only eight players presently inked to deals next season, Colorado GM Joel Sherman could use Statsny as an asset to start rebuilding his defense and forward depth. Backliners Erik Johnson and Kyle Quincey are restricted free agents at season's end, while depth defensemen Shane O'Brien and Matt Hunwick are walk-away free agents come July 1.

"The reality is Colorado still hasn't recovered from the Kevin Shattenkirk deal and if Statsny could bring back a defenseman like Jack Johnson in a package from LA, they'd look long and hard at the deal," the source conveyed.

Costs at the trade deadline this year are going to be high, very high. It would take an awful lot to pry Stastny away from Colorado, they aren't exactly scoring goals in bunches that would make him incredibly expendable either. The Avs check in at 23rd in the league in goals per game.

Stastny has been consisent in his six seasons with the Avs, holding the pace again this season. His goal total is likely going to fall in the low-to-mid 20s in goals and assists will get up there in the 40s or 50s. This season he has 14 goals and 22 assists in 54 games. Oh, and he's still just 26.

Good luck offering enough to entice the Avalanche to trade him away. It will take a lot and while Jack Johnson is certainly a good starting point, it would take a little more than that.

As a reminder, you can keep up with all the trade deadline rumors and speculation with our Trade Deadline tracker.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 3:56 pm
 

Avs goaltending, defense still struggling

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By: Adam Gretz


PITTSBURGH -- Milan Hejduk has spent his entire career with the Colorado Avalanche organization, playing over 920 games (and still counting). He's scored over 360 goals and been a member of a Stanley Cup winning team, and on Tuesday night he played his first game as the team's captain, just the third different one the franchise has had since 1992-93, when it was still based in Quebec.

After a strong first period that included Hejduk registering an assist on Matt Duchene's highlight reel goal, everything unraveled over the final 30 minutes of regulation as the Avs dropped a 6-3 decision to the Penguins, spoiling what should have been an exciting night for the 13-year veteran.

"It's a great honor," said Hejduk after the game. "I'm very proud to have the 'C' on my jersey, but I wish tonight could have been a different result."

The result, unfortunately, has been a common one for the Avs over the past month, as the loss is their ninth in their past 12 games, and follows what had been a promising start that saw the team win six of its first eight games, with all of the wins coming on the road. Whether it's been at home or on the road, finding the win column has been an issue lately for a team that has won just three games in regulation all season, and only one since Oct. 13.

Still, for all of their struggles lately you have to say this for the Avalanche: their games are definitely not boring.

Their forwards are young, fast and exciting, especially Duchene, who was one of the best players on the ice for either team on Tuesday night. When that all meets at the confluence of poor defense and goaltending, well, you're going to see a lot of goals. Last season Avalanche games were the highest scoring games in the league, and they're not far off that pace this season averaging over six goals per game. The NHL average is just 5.56.

Though, a lot of that has been -- and still is being -- driven by the aforementioned issues on the blue line and in the crease. That has to be a concern given the emphasis that was placed on both areas over the summer to improve a team that allowed the ninth most shots in the NHL and owned, by a pretty large margin, the worst save percentage.

In an effort to fix those weaknesses the Avalanche assembled one of the biggest defenses in the NHL (seriously, these guys are huge ... four of their regulars are each listed over 6-feet-3, 230-pounds) by signing Jan Hejda and Shane O'Brien to go with Erik Johnson and Ryan O'Byrne, two players that were acquired in mid-season trades during the 2010-11 season. Those additions on the blue line were accompanied by what was perhaps the most controversial move of the summer, by any team, when the club sent its 2012 first-round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for goaltender Semyon Varlamov. At the time of the trade it was thought that pick could turn out to be a lottery pick, and it still very well could be.

Varlamov did his part to silence the critics of the move early in the season, basically standing on his head during his first three starts. But to say he's struggled since would be an understatement. While the Avs have managed to cut down the number of shots they allow, the goaltending has still been an issue with Varlamov posting a save percentage below .900 in eight of his past 11 apperances, including Tuesday, while their team mark is still in the bottom-three of the NHL.

"When you're going through a stretch like this, you rely on your goaltender," said coach Joe Sacco following Tuesday's game, which saw Varlamov allow six goals on 33 shots. "He (Varlamov) made some big saves, but I'm sure there's a few he'd like to have back. Everybody has to be better including him."

Of course, there are still plenty of question marks as to whether or not they will -- or can -- be much better.

Their defense is massive, but how well does that size translate to success in the current NHL? And outside of Johnson, a former No. 1 overall pick by the St. Louis Blues, how much long-term upside is there with the current group? In the crease, Varlamov is still a major Wild card. He's definitely a gifted athlete with impressive quickness, but his career has been plagued by injuries and bouts of inconsistent play.

If their play on the back side doesn't improve it could be another long season in Denver, and this time there will not even be the prospect of a top draft pick there to help salvage it.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 10:24 am
 

Daily Skate: Latvia picks Nolan; Zherdev to KHL

By Brian Stubits

NOT KEEN ON KEENAN: Last week we told you that former NHL coach Mike Keenan was one of two finalists for head coach of Team Latvia. Turns out he was No. 2. Latvia announced Wednesday that it is hiring another Canadian and former NHL coach, tabbing ex-Sabres and Islanders boss Ted Nolan to lead the team.

NIKKI SKIPS: Earlier this week, colleague Adam Gretz addressed the issue of where would Nikolay Zherdev play next season, speculating it could be Winnipeg or possibly a jump to the KHL. Turns out it's the latter. The former Flyers forward will play next season with Atlant Mytishchi of the KHL, joining Alexei Kovalev on the team.

TOUGH WEEK: It hasn't been a kind few days to the Islanders. The future of the franchise was made cloudy with the resounding no vote on a new arena for the team. So when the team announced very early Wednesday morning they had re-signed forward Jon Sim, it shouldn't be bad, right? Not until the Isles tweet this a short while later: "Jon Sim has not been resigned. A glitch in Bridgeport's email sent a press release from last summer. We apologize for any confusion." Oops.

PERRON STILL OUT: From the department of news you never want to see, Blues forward David Perron isn't going to start training camp with his teammates as he is still dealing with concussion symptoms. He is expected to play at some point next season, Andy Strickland says the two sides just agreed Perron needs more time.

NUMBERS GAME: It's a very awkward situation with the Jets as far as the history of the franchise ... is the team playing under Thrashers history or Jets, who are now the Coyotes? Evander Kane already asked Bobby Hull about wearing his retired No. 9 Jets jersey and Bryan Little has run into the same issue with Dale Hawerchuk's No. 10. But instead of asking to wear it (Hawerchuk said it was no big deal) Little is just going to change numbers himself. (Via Puck Daddy)

BUFFALO ADDS TO STAFF: The Sabres added a coach to Lindy Ruff's bench, announcing the hire of Kevyn Adams as an assistant coach. He joined the staff in 2009 in a player development role.

PITTSBURGH SIGNS TOP PICK: The Penguins took care of some house cleaning by getting their top pick in this year's draft in the fold, signing defenseman Joseph Morrow to a three-year entry-level contract.

Avalanche OF CONFIDENCE: Erik Johnson is expecting a big season in Colorado (Via Denver Post). The defenseman is changing up his workout, trying to prepare for a great year. And he's talking the talk about it too, sending a message to Capitals fans. "It's not going to be a [high] pick [to the Caps in exchange for Semyon Varlamov]. It's going to end up being a great trade for us. People are saying we got the short end of the trade and they're happy because they think we're going to finish at the bottom of the league -- and we're not going to do that this year."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com