It’s here. The NHL preseason schedule is upon us and tonight will be the first chance to see a number of new faces on the home bench in the Pepsi Center. But before we get to game action, Monday saw a lot of business get taken care of around the NHL.
From an Avalanche perspective, Monday was the final day of training camp for a number of the team’s prospects. Eighteen-year old goaltender Trent Minor was sent back to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL while Brandon Saigeon, Travis Barron, Josh Dickson, Igor Shvyrev and Josh Anderson were re-assigned to the Colorado Eagles.
Even with this group of prospects sent down, Coach Bednar said we should expect a very young lineup tonight for the preseason opener. It will be interesting to see who gets in the lineup in front of the home crowd.
In other Avalanche news, it looks as though it will be at least another two seasons before 2018 third round pick Justus Annunen joins the organization. After a very strong start to the season, the 19-year old goaltender has signed a two-year extension with Karpat in Finland.
It appears that we’ve hit “just get guys to camp” time as a number of teams are starting to sign their bigger-name RFAs. Both Boston and Vancouver opted for bridge deals, meaning the teams are opting to defer the big decisions on their players.
Brandon Carlo (BOS) - 2 years, $2.85 AAV
Brock Boeser (VAN) - 3 years, $5.875 AAV
Charlie McAvoy (BOS) - 3 years, $4.90 AAV
At first glance, that looks like a steal for Charlie McAvoy who is already one of the best defenders in the game. That said, the deal carries a $7.3m salary in the 3rd year meaning McAvoy is quartered a big qualifying offer going into arbitration when he becomes an RFA again in 2022. The deal saves Boston cap money now but could result in McAvoy breaking the bank with his next contract. It’s the same strategy we saw from PK Subban when he signed a bridge deal coming out of his ELC.
The one long-term deal we saw was for Travis Konecny. The Philadelphia Flyers signed the 22-year old winger to a six year, $33 million contract. That means a $5.5m AAV for a young players who has scored 24 goals in each of his two full seasons in the NHL. It’s a good bit of business for both sides as Konecny is a very strong middle-6 winger who is one of the most tenacious forecheckers in the Eastern Conference.
As some will know, the Toronto Maple Leafs are holding their training camp in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Tyson Barrie has done a few interviews during camp and has mentioned how different it’s been - not just being with a new team but being on the road in a small town, almost like an in-season road trip.
As a part of the experience, the team took part in the Newfoundland tradition of being Screeched In:
Welcome to the Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers, b’ys! pic.twitter.com/5ixMMwCJ8U— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 14, 2019
Screeched in: An initiation ceremony where the person must drink screech rum, kiss a cod and speak some Newfoundland slang. The participant then becomes on honorary Newfoundlander.
Yes, that’s our old buddy Tyson Barrie kissing a cod to become an honorary Newf - something tells me Alex Newhook would be proud.
So, in my neck of the woods up here in the east end of the Greater Toronto Area, a University team decided to re-brand with new jerseys and a new logo and boy is it something:
If you thought our new blues were sharp, check out these beauties.— Ontario Tech Ridgebacks (@OT_Ridgebacks) September 16, 2019
When I saw the tweet, I immediately sent it to my cousin - who captained the Ridgebacks after his OHL career was over - and this was the response I got: “I wish I were dead so I could roll over in my grave”. Apparently the alumni aren’t too keen on the new look.
For reference, this is what the team used to look like:
Lastly, here is a reminder that it’s the preseason for the broadcast producers as well: