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Avalanche Free Agency

Avs free-agent day: Team re-signs Dries and three minor-leaguers



If you had to go scrambling to to look up who some of the Avalanche’s free-agent signings were this afternoon, you’re not alone. While the day isn’t over yet, the activity of the Avs to this point truly has been minor.

The team announced four transactions just now: the re-signing of forward Sheldon Dries and the signings of three players who mostly have been minor-leaguers to this point in their careers, forwards Miikka Salomaki, Kiefer Sherwood and Mike Vecchione to one-year deals.

Here’s more on all of them, from the Avs’ official release:

Dries, 26, appeared in five games for the Avalanche this past season (0g/0a) and made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 7 of Colorado’s second-round series against the Dallas Stars. The Macomb Township, Michigan, native recorded 35 points (21g/14a) in 50 games for the Avs’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Colorado Eagles, leading the team in goals and finishing third in points. He made the Avs’ opening-night roster as a rookie in 2018-19 and recorded six points (3g/3a) in 40 contests for the Avalanche that season.

Dries (pronounced dr-EYE-z) has produced six points (3g/3a) in 45 career NHL games and has totaled 76 points (43g/33a) in 145 career regular-season AHL games for the Eagles and the Texas Stars. In his first professional season in 2017-18, he notched 30 points (19g/11a) in 70 regular-season games for Texas and added 10 points (10g/0a) in 22 playoff contests for the Western Conference champions, leading all rookies in postseason goals.

According to PuckPedia, Dries accepted his qualifying offer of $771,750. It’s a two-way deal, though, and his salary at the AHL level would be $395,000.

Prior to signing with Texas as an undrafted free agent, Dries played four seasons at Western Michigan University, collecting 84 points (44g/40a) in 148 career outings and serving as the team’s captain for three seasons. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound center earned National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Second All-Star Team honors for his final campaign in 2016-17.

Dries played two full seasons for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League from 2011-13, recording 87 points (41g/46a) in 116 games and adding nine points (2g/7a) in 16 USHL postseason appearances.

Salomaki, 27, spent the majority of the 2019-20 season with the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, tallying 15 points (5g/10a) in 41 games while appearing in five games (1g/0a) for the Nashville Predators. Following a Feb. 22 trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Salomaki skated in eight games for the club’s AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, tallying four points (2g/2a). Selected by Nashville in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft, Salomaki has collected 27 points (12g/15a) in 167 career NHL contests, all for the Predators. He has also appeared in 30 Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording three points (1g/2a).

Salomaki has registered 92 points (37g/55a) in 173 career AHL contests. The 5-foot-11, 203-pound right wing competed for Karpat in Finland’s top professional league from 2010-13, totaling 50 points (25g/25a) in 122 career Liiga outings.

The Raahe, Finland, native represented his country at the 2014 IIHF World Championship, recording two points (1g/1a) in 10 games to help Finland capture the silver medal in his first appearance in the tournament. Salomaki also competed for Finland at three consecutive IIHF World Junior Championships from 2011-13.

Sherwood, 25, split the 2019-20 season between the Anaheim Ducks and the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, tallying a point (0g/1a) in 10 games for the Ducks and 23 points (16g/7a) in 37 contests for San Diego.

Signed by Anaheim as a free agent on March 19, 2018, Sherwood has skated in 60 career NHL games, all with the Ducks, and has recorded 13 points (6g/7a). The 6-foot, 194-pound right wing has produced 43 points (24g/19a) in 77 career AHL regular-season contests and added eight points (4g/4a) in 16 Calder Cup Playoff games.

The Columbus, Ohio, native played three seasons for Miami University (Ohio) from 2015-18, registering 86 points (34g/52a) in 106 career games. Prior to college, Sherwood played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League from 2013-15, recording 90 points (42g/48a) in 126 contests and skated in six games for the U.S. National Team Development Program during the 2012-13 campaign.

PuckPedia says his salary is a two-way: $700,000 with the Avs, $250,000 in the AHL.

Vecchione (pronounced VECK-ee-oh-nee), 27, spent the 2019-20 season with the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage, recording 36 points (21g/15a) in 61 games and leading the club in goals and finishing second in points. Signed by the Philadelphia Flyers as a free agent on March 31, 2017, Vecchione has skated in two NHL contests (0g/0a), both for Philadelphia, and has recorded 114 points (53g/61a) in 193 career regular-season AHL outings for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Rampage. In 2018, the 5-foot-10, 194-pound right wing skated in 12 Calder Cup Playoff games for Lehigh Valley, tallying seven points (3g/4a).

Vecchione played four seasons at Union College from 2013-17, where he amassed 176 points (71g/105a) in 149 career games, finishing his career as the program’s all-time leader in points and assists. The Saugus, Mass., native served as team captain for two seasons (2015-17) and was a Hobey Baker finalist and ECAC Player of the Year in 2017.

Prior to college, Vecchione played two seasons for the United States Hockey League’s Tri-City Storm, producing 89 points (36g/53a) in 112 games from 2011-13.

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