A lot of things happened this December for the players who generally wear the Avalanche uniform. I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job of covering all of them, but school got a little crazy.
So let me break down, player by player, what’s been going on.
Matt Duchene- Duchene finished his time in the Swedish Elite League after 19 games, during which he earned 14 points. (He had only signed a short term contract, and it expired. Due to the fact the SEL is being very particular when it comes to locked out players playing in the league, he was unable to sign an extension to stay in Goteburg.) Now, Duchene is playing with Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss league, with fellow locked out NHLer Cory Schneider (goalie for the Vancouver Canucks). In three games, he has earned five points (2 goals, 1 primary assist, 2 secondary assists), 2 PIM, and a +/- of 3. I think it’s good that Duchene is continuing to play. Clearly, he is just gaining his stride, and I think it’s a smart idea to take advantage of any playing time and game experience he can. Hopefully, this year will only make him a stronger player whenever the Avalanche are back in the Pepsi Center.
Gabriel Landeskog- Landeskog finished his time in Sweden as well (for the same reasons as Duchene.) During 17 games, he earned 14 points for Djugarden. I know that he went back to Kitchener for at least some time and worked out with the Kitchener Rangers and their staff. While he hasn’t made any comments, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to join another team should the January 14th deadline pass without a new CBA. He’s such a young player, and I think it’s in his best interest to get some playing experience. Still, it’s fine that he take some time off to simply work out, especially during the holiday season.
Ryan O’Reilly- Factor caused quite a stir earlier this month. The 21 year old center decided to stop coaching with the Clinton Radars (his hometown team) and signed to play in Russia with Metallurg.
O’Reilly didn’t just sign a lockout contract though-he signed a full, 2 year contract in the KHL. This understandably caused quite a bit of panic among the Avalanche fanbase. Still, his agent reassured fans and reporters that Metallurg will allow O’Reilly to negotiate a contract in the NHL, and leave if the two sides come to an agreement. Considering the fact that O’Reilly is a Restricted Free Agent, the Avs are likely the only team that will court him at this point (especially considering no one made him an offer that he signed during the summer.) For now, O’Reilly is safe and secure with his job in the KHL. I think that once the CBA issue is resolved, the Avalanche will go and make an offer to O’Reilly (reportedly the two sides disagreed about contract length- the team wanted three years and O’Reilly wanted five.) He’s a loyal player, so imagine that he will be willing to negotiate with Greg Sherman and that the two sides will come to an agreement. Hopefully, the organization won’t hold this move against him (remember that in the past, the team has seemingly traded every player that has ever filed for salary arbitration against them). I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll have Avalanche hockey soon, and that O’Reilly’s 37 is one of the first numbers I see skating on the ice at the Pepsi Center.
Ryan O’Byrne- After a blistering start with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, O’Byrne has cooled off some. He still has nine points in 12 games, two of them goals. These are pretty impressive statistics for a guy who only scored 10 points during 76 games last season.
Semyon Varlamov- Varlamov was injured for a time, and missed a few games. He is now back and playing at full strength. In the three games since he came back, he has won one and closed out another. Unfortunately he lost today (his third loss in 15 games), but he still made 34 saves on 37 shots. Varlamov’s save percentage and goals against average are voth at the top of the KHL, which is why he has been selected to play in the All-Star game for the Western team. (Also on his team are Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Sergei Gonchar- some pretty talented players.)
Paul Stastny- Stastny has 18 points in 12 games for EHC RedBull Munchen. Stastny also extended his contract past 2012, and until the end of the lockout. He missed the game on Wednesday, and won’t be back to play until January 4, 2013. He is spending his time in Denver with his girlfriend and other family members.
Everyone else, I’m speculating about, or pointing out things I’ve seen on twitter.
-Ryan Wilson has participated in several charity games with other NHL players, including most recently “Rock Out the Lockout”.
-Shane O’Brien has also been playing in several charity games, including the RBC NHLPA Players game, where he was a last minute addition (so last minute, in fact, that his name had to be written in sharpie on the back of his jersey).
-David Jones and his wife welcomed their baby to the world in September, so it seems like Jones has been spending some quality time with his some and his wife during this time.
-Jamie McGinn is busy…I don’t really know what he’s doing, actually. He seems to be chirping his brothers, and attending a lot of Brock McGinn’s games. I know he has also volunteered and practiced with a few kids’ teams in his hometown area.
-Steve Downie never tweets, but he’s been tagged in pictures from Teddy Purcell, Steven Stamkos, and other Lightning players, as they play on trainer Gary Roberts’ rink and talk to kids about fitness.
-Erik Johnson is in Minnesota (if you feel like stalking the entire state for him), and he’s chirping everyone he possibly can on twitter. Seriously. Landeskog’s socks, a U17 NTDP player, and various teammates’ fantasy football teams have all been called out.
-Milan Hejduk said at the beginning of this lockout that he intended to stay in Denver with his family for the entirety of the lockout. Hopefully, his twin sons are keeping him busy.
-Jean-Sebastian Giguere…I know that he and his wife were expecting a new baby back in March, so I’m assuming that the little one has been born and that the family of five is enjoying some quality time together.
-Ummm…I’m not sure about Cody McLeod, no idea what the Highlander is getting up to. Does anyone feel like he would be an entertaining tweeter if he ever decided to join?
-I know that Hunwick got married over the summer (thank you twitter), so I imagine he’s enjoying time with his wife. His brother is also playing his first professional season, so I’m sure he’s been watching him play.
-Jan Hejda told the Eurolanche that if the lockout lasted into November, he would begin looking for a team to play with. He hasn’t signed anywhere, so I’m not sure if he decided to wait a little longer or if he has just been searching for the right fit. I bet he’ll sign somewhere if we reach February and a CBA still hasn’t been signed.
-Chuck Kobasew has been a ghost this offseason. I haven’t heard anything about him-has anyone else?
As for the three new guys, Zanon, Parenteau, and Mitchell, I don’t know a lot about them. Mitchell does tweet occasionally, (@mitchabov), and has tweeted several pictures of himself in Avalanche gear, if you haven’t seen them.