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Avalanche seem uninterested, but Milan Hejduk still wants to play

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

Milan Hejduk wants to keep playing, but will somebody sign him? (USATSI)
Milan Hejduk wants to keep playing, but will somebody sign him? (USATSI)

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Of all the free agents to hit the open market this summer, one name that seems to have fallen through the cracks is former Colorado Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk.

The Avalanche appear to have little interest in bringing him back, and there doesn't seem to be much interest from the 29 other NHL teams at the present time.

His agent, Jiri Crha, recently told Adrian Dater of the Denver Post that Hejduk wants to continue playing in the NHL and is willing to do so for a team other than the Avalanche, the only team he's ever known.

"He wants to keep playing," Crha told Dater on Monday. "If there is any team that really wants to use him for his offensive skills, he still believes he could do it."

Hejduk's role with the Avalanche was significantly reduced this past season with his ice time dropping all the way down to just 13 minutes per game playing mostly alongside John Mitchell and Cody McLeod. Naturally, his production plummeted for a second straight year; he scored just four goals to go with seven assists in 29 games. Over the past three seasons his point-per-game average has gone from 0.79 in 2010-11, to 0.46 in 2011-12, all the way down to 0.38 this past season.

Hejduk's agent told Dater he isn't going to take a minimum salary somewhere, but that he would be open to a contract that included bonuses that are fair to both sides.

It was an extremely weak free agent class to start with and many of the best players have already been picked over. It's possible that somebody sees value in what Hejduk can still provide, but if he's set on being a top-six winger again it's probably going to be a long wait.

Hejduk, who will turn 38 during the 2013-14 season, has scored 375 goals in 1,020 NHL games, all with the Avalanche.

He won a Stanley Cup with the team during the 2000-01 season.

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