The Colorado Avalanche don’t officially kick off their preseason until this evening, as they’ll take on the Vegas Golden Knights at home at 7:00 PM MST for their first formal tilt of 2019-20 training camp.
They got things going with an intra-squad scrimmage at training camp on Sunday, though, and everyone’s favorite newly-arrived defender got things going early on:
Leave it to Kevin Connauton to open the scoring— AJ Haefele (@AJHaefele) September 15, 2019
Connauton has been giving the team’s new orange no-contact jerseys a bit of a test run in training camp lately — so it was nice to see the former Dallas, Columbus, and Arizona blue liner clearly meshing with his team even through limited practices so far.
Connauton wasn’t the only player to get a nice welcome during Sunday’s training camp, though.
Valeri Nichushkin was signed by Colorado during the 2019 off-season, inking a one-year, one-way deal with the Avalanche for a cool $850,000. He’ll look to see if his optimistic rookie campaign — during which he scored 14 goals as an 18-year-old for the Dallas Stars in 2013-14 — is something that can be revived at all now that he’s 24-years old.
Immigration issues left him scrambling to arrive at training camp on time, though, so the Russian-born winger was a little late to the party. He showed up Sunday, joining a line with Matt Nieto and JT Compher. [Colorado Avalanche]
In AHL news, Hunter Miska has a new lid:
Hunter Miska, man of the people.#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/MKwLrHN1Iu— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) September 15, 2019
Miska’s masks always have an especially fun story behind them; he gets his lids custom painted by his dad, Todd Miska. His father has been painting goalie masks for the pros since he was a kid — and it’s what helped the position catch his eye in the first place years ago.
This year he’s gone fairly simple — it’s an eagle on the mask and a snow-capped scene on the backplate with his name — but the clean lines and bright colors are hard not to fall in love with anyways.
Looking around the league, two more RFA’s inked their extensions on Sunday — proving that while there are still plenty of names left to lock up (including Colorado’s own Mikko Rantanen), most players are willing to do just about anything to get the deal done in time for the season to begin.
First, the Bruins continued with their tradition of getting their best players on team-friendly deals with an extension for Charlie McAvoy worth a cool $4.9 million per season:
Charlie McAvoy has agreed to terms with BOS. Three-year deal, $4.9M AAV. Very similar to Zach Werenski’s three-year, $5M AAV deal with CBJ. McAvoy could make up the $300K difference because his Year 3 salary, and Qualifying Offer base, is $7.3M, $300K more than Werenski’s.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 15, 2019
He joins the team’s top forward line on an incredibly appealing-looking deal, as Patrice Bergeron rakes in just $6.875 mill per season, Brad Marchand clocks in at $6.125 mill AAV, and David Pastrnak was locked up for $6.666 mill each year as well. The deal was partially influenced by McAvoy’s unique status as a 10.2(c) player, meaning he hasn’t played enough games to qualify for regular RFA status and therefore had a little less leverage. Still, it keeps in line with Boston’s recent trend of watching their stars take friendlier deals to follow the example of Bergeron’s own team-friendly extension inked a few years back — and it could be what helps them keep fellow blue liner Torey Krug in the long run.
For those interested in the story there, here’s some more detail. [The Boston Globe]
The other deal inked on Sunday was a bit less splashy, but was crucial nonetheless.
The Calgary Flames locked up promising depth forward Andrew Mangiapane on a one-year, two-way deal worth just $715,000 at the NHL level, ending a stalemate that seemed to be stretching on over just a few hundred grand:
BREAKING: BREAD— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) September 15, 2019
The #Flames have signed forward Andrew Mangiapane to a one-year, two-way contract worth $715,000. https://t.co/LQTygsnTbT
The deal was never likely to even hit the $1 mill ceiling for the year; while Mangiapane had eight goals in 44 games last year, he still doesn’t have a meaty enough body of work at the NHL level to justify anything more than that.
For the Flames, though, there’s an impending cap crunch that they’re frantically trying to navigate; they have just $6.34 million left in cap room, but still need to sign top RFA Matthew Tkachuk to an extension. Tkachuk was good for 13 goals his rookie year, 24 his sophomore season, and 34 in 2018-19; he was an alternate captain for the club, and his 77 points put him well within reach of what the other team’s top stars have been able to put up as well.
Even if the team can convince him that their other top-billed forwards make less than market value, though, it’s a tough sell to give Tkachuk anything less than $7 million per season — especially after Clayton Keller was given an extension over $7 million, while Mitch Marner’s recent extension nearly hit $11 million AAV. The Flames need every extra dollar they can find, and the fact that Mangiapane clearly came down on his reported ask of closer to $850,000 means that the team had a little extra to work with.
Finally, Hispanic Heritage Month 2019 is from September 15th to October 15th — and in honor of that, the Arizona Coyotes have announced they’ll have a Hispanic Heritage Day on October 17th:
Happy #HispanicHeritageMonth!— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) September 15, 2019
We can’t wait to celebrate on 10/17. pic.twitter.com/14DzlLX4Rf