Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/15/14 at 06:38 AM ET
from Rick Sadowski at NHL.com,
Did the Avalanche do enough to improve their weakest link? -- Colorado's defense allowed 40-plus shots on goal in 10 games and between 35 and 39 shots in 18 others. The Avalanche added a much-needed physical presence in Brad Stuart, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a sixth-round selection in 2017. He'll be paired with Erik Johnson, whose 39 points matched a career high.
Colorado signed Zach Redmond to a two-year, $1.5 million contract, believing he has the potential to develop the way Nick Holden did last season. Holden, who played in seven NHL games in five previous professional seasons, blossomed into a top-four role. He played a physical style and had 10 goals and a plus-12 rating in 54 games. Redmond, 25, played in 18 games with the Winnipeg Jets in four years with the organization. The Avalanche have yet to re-sign restricted free agent Tyson Barrie, who is expected to be fully recovered from the knee injury he sustained in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Can Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov build off last season, and will Reto Berra be a capable backup? -- Varlamov's work with goalie coach Francois Allaire worked wonders for his game and his confidence, and he should be entering the prime of his career at age 26. The Avalanche think so, having signed him to a five-year, $29.5 million contract extension that begins this season.
Berra, who replaces Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the No. 2 goalie, remains a question mark. He had an 0-1-1 record in two starts with a 5.83 goals-against average and .781 save percentage after the Avalanche acquired him March 5 from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2014 draft. Colorado signed Berra to a three-year, $4.35 million contract and is hopeful Allaire's magic will pay off the way it did with Varlamov.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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