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An American flag lights up the rink in the Pepsi Center during the singing of the national anthem (file photo). (DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP)
An American flag lights up the rink in the Pepsi Center during the singing of the national anthem (file photo). (DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP)

Eric Duhatschek

Around the rinks Add to ...

As the contract standoff between the Avalanche and centre Ryan O’Reilly drags on, it becomes more likely that Colorado will trade his rights. Question: What is fair value for a player who led the Avalanche in scoring last year (albeit with just 55 points), just turned 22 and is considered an excellent two-way player? Is a first-rounder in a deep 2013 draft enough? Or would the Avs insist on a quality young player going the other way too? For any team evaluating the decision, the question is how much they’re asking, and how much will O’Reilly score in the NHL (he had 107 points in his first 236 games)? In his two years with the OHL’s Erie Otters, O’Reilly had 19 goals and 16 goals in 61 and 68 games, respectively. … The Minnesota Wild added almost $200-million (all currency U.S.) to their payroll last summer by signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year free-agent contracts, but aren’t demonstrably better than they were a year ago when they finished the first quarter 13-5-2-1, which left them atop the Western Conference standings. This year, they’d already lost their sixth game in regulation by midweek. Parise acknowledged that after doing things the New Jersey Devils’ way for his entire career, he needs time to adjust to the Minnesota way. “System-wise, you do it [one way] for so long, you don’t even think about it any more, it’s just the way you get trained to play,” Parise said. “So it’s an adjustment – different assignments on the ice, different systems, different fore-checks. Sometimes it takes a little extra thinking to be in the right spot.” … At his best, Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla plays with an edge. When he gets involved physically, usually the other parts of his game – most notably the offence – fall into place. Iginla played that way last Wednesday, getting into two scraps and setting up two goals, both pivotal in the team’s 7-4 win over the Dallas Stars. The win got the Flames to 4-4-3 and out of the Northwest Division cellar. Iginla’s future in Calgary is subject to almost daily speculation, but it is unlikely that the Flames would move him unless they fall far out of the playoff picture by the April 3 trade deadline. At the moment, the key is to muddle along without starting goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, out another two weeks with a sprained knee. … Every team that builds through the draft acknowledges there will be growing pains, no matter how precocious the prospects. Consider the Edmonton Oilers. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has gone 23 games without scoring an NHL goal dating back to last season, when he scored 18 times in 62 games. The puck’s gone in for Nugent-Hopkins in the minors and for the world junior team, but not in Edmonton, where Jordan Eberle has also gone eight games without a goal. Edmonton needs to make strides now because in March, it will be on an extended road trip, when the Brier moves into Rexall Place. … Droughts do come to an end, as Kings’ backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier can attest. Bernier went almost 11 months between wins before earning the victory last Monday over the St. Louis Blues. Jonathan Quick, MVP of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, has a 3-4-2 record, an .891 save percentage and a 2.70 goals-against average through 10 starts after off-season back surgery. Asked Thursday if there was one thing he’d like to see the team do better, Quick answered: “Yeah, I’d like to see myself play better. I think that’s the biggest thing.” … Los Angeles is seeing a far different Jeff Carter this year as opposed to last, partly because he’s healthy and partly because he put on 11 pounds of muscle in the off-season. On a Kings team struggling to scoreagain, Carter is leading the way with six goals. … L.A. is bringing up the rear in the Pacific Division and one reason is their defence corps has been decimated by injuries. Half their regulars in last year’s Stanley Cup drive – Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene and Alec Martinez – are out with significant injuries. … From press box to penthouse: Defenceman Keaton Ellerby was largely a depth player for Florida this season, but since arriving in L.A., he is playing more than 19 minutes a night on the No. 1 defensive pair alongside Drew Doughty. Ellerby’s father, Cal, played junior hockey in Calgary on the same Wranglers team as Ralph Krueger, the Oilers’ coach, and Kelly Kisio, the long-time NHLer who now runs the WHL’s Hitmen.

More Related to this Story

NUMBERS

52

Through Thursday, the number of players who have made their NHL debuts since the 48-game season started on Jan. 19.

995

Career assists for Dallas Stars forward Jaromir Jagr after picking up two helpers vs. Calgary in a 7-4 loss Wednesday. Jagr needs five more assists to become the 12th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 mark. Wayne Gretzky leads the all-time list with 1,963 followed by Ron Francis in second place with 1,249.

THEY SAID IT

“It’s like seeing your son getting perfect grades at school, but you’re not happy because he’s not behaving well. We’ve won, but I know we can play better more consistently.”~ Bruce Boudreau...The coach of the surprisingly good Anaheim Ducks thinks his team can get better.

“The effort the guys put into this to get to Sochi will really raise awareness that hockey exists in Austria.”~Thomas Vanek...The Buffalo Sabres’ forward will get a chance to play in his first Olympics, if the NHL sends its players, after Austria eliminated Germany in last weekend’s qualifying tournament and made the grade for the first time since 2002 in Salt Lake City.

“Representing your country, it’s above everything else. Personally, I think guys will be able to go over there and represent their countries and play. I know some guys would probably go over there anyways, even if they couldn’t.” ~ Steven Stamkos...The Tampa Bay Lightning centre casts his vote for NHL participation in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

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