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Avalanche Skate: Makar In, Nichushkin Out; Excitement for Nieto



Colorado Avalanche, Cale Makar

There was a lot of lineup news for the Colorado Avalanche after morning skate on Thursday.

Most of it was good news. But not all, unfortunately.

Let’s start with the good news: The Avalanche will get Cale Makar back in the lineup after a four game absence due to an upper body injury. After skate, he declared himself good to go.

Also re-entering the lineup is forward Denis Malgin. He was injured back Jan. 5 in Vancouver and started skating again this week.

Nathan MacKinnon was not present for morning skate, but it was only for maintenance. He will be in the lineup against Anaheim.

The news was not as good for Valeri Nichushkin.

The big Russian, who has battled foot and ankle issues all season, will miss the game due to an upper body injury. He’s considered day to day. The team is 15-3-2 with Nichushkin in the lineup, so his presence will be missed.

The Avalanche will also have a new, but familiar face entering the lineup…

Excitement Over Return of Nieto

Matt Nieto, re-acquired yesterday from the San Jose Sharks, will play, according to head coach Jared Bednar. He landed in Denver this morning, but was not able to make it to the rink in time for skate.

His former linemate in San Jose, Andrew Cogliano, was excited about his return to Denver.

“Matt’s a great guy,” he said. “Great pickup, a really smart trade, obviously. His style of play is exactly how we play, and he’s a great guy to have in the room. He’s exactly the type of people they want here.”

Bednar was also excited to get the Long Beach native back

“He was great for us,” Bednar said, referring to Nieto’s first stint in Colorado. “He played on our third line, fourth line, fits our system. He’s a skater, a worker, responsible checker. He’s a good addition to our team. We loved having him here. It’s another trusted guy.”

Trading for a proven commodity in Nieto is a sign to players, from management, that they expect to go deep into the playoffs again.

“It shows that he’s (MacFarland) trying to bring players in that are going to help us in the stretch and in the playoffs,” Cogliano said. “Those are the type of guys we want.”

Merkley to The Eagles

The other piece of the trade was 22 year old defenseman Ryan Merkley. He will report to the Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate for the Avalanche.

“I don’t know the player that well,” Bednar said. “He’s going to report to the Eagles and then we’ll keep an eye on him. See how he does down there, and see what our ‘D’ depth looks like.”

The Avalanche and the Ducks face-off tonight at Ball Arena. The game starts at 7 PM MST.

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