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The Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL - July 18th, 2013

Jamie Squire

Nathan MacKinnon was practicing with Sidney Crosby this week. (Link has video)

Nathan MacKinnon is also looking forward to the upcoming season of the NHL.

The 17-year-old was picked first overall in the NHL draft by the Colorado Avalanche.

“I was a little more nervous than I thought I was going to be, to be honest with you. It was such a relieving thing to hear that coming from Joe Sakic’s mouth for sure. It was pretty special and a great moment for my friends and my family that came there. I got to celebrate when I came back here as well,” says MacKinnon.

MacKinnon says he is excited to work with Sakic - a former NHLer and executive vice-president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche.

“He was definitely my favourite player. Obviously, it is kinda an ironic story where I ended up, but they had so many great players and really talented teams and that`s the kind of teams I like to watch. Obviously, when Sid went to Pittsburgh I hopped on that bandwagon, but I was a Colorado fan first.”

Jeremy Roenick likes MacKinnon.

Roenick was hooked.

“I love the way he plays the game,” said Roenick of the Cole Harbour hockey star. “I like where he goes, the high traffic areas and he does it with so much speed. Obviously, he’s a great talent; he’s got great hands. He has got a very gifted mind for the game.

“But he goes into those tough areas with fearless abandon. You can see his desire to score goals and when you can combine talent with that grit and tenacity you’re going to have a complete hockey player, and he seems to be just that.”

It’s only been in the last month or so, before and after MacKinnon was selected No.1 by the Colorado Avalanche at the NHL draft, that Roenick has been hearing the comparisons that so many scouts, fans and reporters have been making between him, the third highest American scorer in NHL history, and the reigning Memorial Cup MVP.

Andre Benoit is looking forward to playing with the Avalanche.

The 2014 NHL free agency period kicked off on July 5 with over 50 signings and with more than a whopping $350-million being shelled out. Among those signings was a new home for 29-year-old, St. Albert native Andre Benoit who inked a one-year, $900,000 deal with the Colorado Avalanche. “I am excited (to join Colorado), it is a great opportunity,” said Benoit. “It was exactly what I was looking for and I have heard that Denver is a good place to play.”

All signs point to Blake returning to LA.

It looks as though Rob Blake is heading back to Los Angeles.

According to John Hoven, from the Mayor's Manor blog, Blake, who spent 11 years with the Kings, will be named Ron Hextall's successor as the Kings' assistant general manager this week.

Hextall left the Kings this week to return to the Flyers, where he played 11 seasons, to be the team's assistant general manager.

With the Kings, Blake, from Simcoe, established himself as the most dominant defencemen in the NHL at the time.

Blake played 1,270 regular season games for the Kings, Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks, scoring 240 goals and 537 assists.