By STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Hockey Writer
MONTREAL (AP) — Colorado, Chicago and Pittsburgh all made key moves on Thursday ahead of the NHL Draft, with the Stanley Cup-champion Avalanche signing a deal to cement their goaltending status and the Penguins moving on. ensuring a longtime defender was sticking around.
The Avalanche acquired goaltender Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers for three draft picks, and the Pittsburgh Penguins also signed veteran defenseman Kris Letang to a six-year, $36.6 million deal that carries an annual salary cap of $6.1 million. Before the draft began, the Blackhawks began their long-awaited dismantling process by trading Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for the seventh-plus pick, and the Minnesota Wild re-signed goaltender Marc-André Fleury for a two-year, $7 million contract. .
The Blackhawks haven’t finished negotiating by trading third-year center Kirby Dach to Montreal in the draft to acquire two more picks. Chicago acquired the No. 13 and 66th selection for Dach, who had a career-high nine goals and 26 points in 82 games last season.
Montreal spurred the move by acquiring trade defenseman Alexander Romanov’s 13th pick and the Islanders’ 98th pick.
Colorado gave up third- and fifth-round picks this year and a third-round pick next year for Georgiev. The move appears to spell the end of playoff starter Darcy Kuemper’s time with the Avalanche.
The Avalanche can now pair Georgiev, who needs a new contract as a restricted free agent, with Pavel Francouz as they attempt to defend their third title in franchise history.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, who won it all in 2016 and 2017, re-signed veteran defenseman Kris Letang to a six-year, $36.6 million deal that carries an annual salary cap of $6.1 million.
Pittsburgh may not be able to keep the whole group together given that center Evgeni Malkin is also expected to be an unrestricted free agent, but general manager Ron Hextall has prioritized long-term confinement. term of Letang, 36 years old.
“The role he plays in our team is irreplaceable, he is a leader in our dressing room and has made countless contributions to the organization over the past 15+ years,” Hextall said in a statement.
DeBrincat, 24, who set career highs with 41 goals, 37 assists and 78 points, is heading to Ottawa to join a rising team and could soon sign a new contract to keep him there long term.
“Acquiring Alex brings immediate and additional firepower to our forward group,” said Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. “He’s a dynamic attacker who poses a threat to the opponent when he’s in the offensive zone. He maintains excellent vision, has exceptional skill and a quality shot that helps him score from virtually any part of the ice. He’s a consistent performer and underrated playmaker.
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