BUFFALO AT COLORADO Spotlight on Ryan O’Reilly:
8 p.m. Wednesday, ALT; 950 AM The heady, hardworking former Colorado forward makes his first return to Denver since the summer trade that sent him and Jamie McGinn to the Sabres for a package that included current Avs Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov. O’Reilly’s contractual militancy led the Avs to make the deal, and as aggravating as his stand was to Colorado fans, the front office and even his teammates, he was proved “right” in one crucial fashion in an “it’s a business” league: The Sabres pretty much gave him what he wanted, signing him to a seven-year, $52.5 million extension. He’s making $6 million in 2015-16, which is what Matt Duchene will get this season and the next two.
O’Reilly is on pace to crack 30 goals for the first time in his career. … Buffalo has won two consecutive games, beating Washington and Arizona. … Jack Eichel, the former Boston University standout who was the No. 2 overall pick in 2015 behind Connor McDavid, has had an impressive rookie season and is among the top handful of candidates for the Calder Trophy in the wake of McDavid suffering a fractured collarbone Nov. 3.
Defenseman Erik Johnson, out since Jan. 4, skated Tuesday with the healthy scratches from the night before, and Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Johnson is on track to return to the lineup soon, perhaps this weekend. … Roy said Grigorenko, a healthy scratch the past three games, will play against the Sabres. … Semyon Varlamov will get the start in the Colorado net.