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Old 10-03-2006, 03:57 PM   #5668
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Default Quenneville tries youthful blend with Avs,00.html

CENTENNIAL - One was taking college classes five months ago, one is sixth months removed from playing against teenagers in junior hockey and the other has played in a total of 65 NHL games.

Makes no difference to Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville, who has formed what could be a potent "Kid Line" featuring a couple of 20-year-old rookies, Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski, and a 24-year-old second-year man, Marek Svatos.

They skated together Monday and are expected to do so again Wednesday when the Avalanche kicks off the 2006-07 NHL regular season against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center (7 p.m., Versus).

Stastny, a 6-foot, 205-pound center, is the son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny. The youngster registered 36 goals and 62 assists in two years at the University of Denver and has impressed the coaches with his all-around game.

Wolski, a 6-3, 200-pound left wing, was the Avalanche's No. 1 draft pick in 2004. He collected six points in nine NHL games after beginning last season in Colorado, was chosen the Ontario Hockey League Player of the Year after amassing 47 goals and 81 assists in 56 games for the Brampton Battalion and returned in time to record four points in eight Stanley Cup playoff games.

Svatos, a 5-10, 185-pound right wing, scored 32 goals - nine were winners - in 61 games before suffering a fracture in his right shoulder that caused him to miss the remainder of the season.

"I think it's going to be pretty good chemistry," said Svatos, who played in the final two preseason games. He scored a goal and a shootout goal Saturday against Los Angeles. "The three of us are young guys, but I don't see an age problem. Those two guys are both very skilled players and very smart."

Svatos had not seen Stastny before training camp, but he already is putting pressure on him.

"I think he's going to be as good as his dad," he said. "He's got the genes."

Quenneville isn't concerned about the trio's ability to create plays and goals, but it won't do much good if the line turns into a defensive liability.

" 'Svats' has got the shot, Paul's play selection and his vision . . . his passing is outstanding. 'Woolie' can do all of those types of things. Offensively, he's got some speed and some skill," Quenneville said. "One thing that we're going to have to keep an eye on is how well they play without the puck and complement the team game. Offensively, I think they'll be able to take care of themselves."

Wolski made the most of the experience after being returned to his junior team last season. He still got to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs and is being touted as a candidate for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top rookie.

"I was pretty nervous coming into camp," he said. "Each year there's guys coming in and everyone's hungry to get a spot on the team. So if you're not nervous, you're not really ready for it."

Wolski had one goal, two assists, eight penalty minutes and 16 shots in four preseason games; he missed two games after getting hit on the leg with a puck.

Stastny played in all six games, had one goal, three assists, two penalty minutes and 15 shots. Svatos registered one goal and two shots in his two games.

"I'm excited," Wolski said. "We're all young and full of energy. It's a great opportunity. We're all pretty good players and we can definitely do some damage offensively if things work out in our favor."

Joe Sakic will center the top line with Andrew Brunette and Milan Hejduk; Tyler Arnason is expected to anchor a unit with Brett McLean and Ian Laperriere; and Brad Richardson is in the middle with Antti Laaksonen and Mark Rycroft.

"I don't know for sure how the lines will work out," Quenneville said. "How long they stick - their play will dictate that. We can quickly adjust lines in the course of games."

ETC.: Defenseman Jordan Leopold, who underwent hernia surgery in July, has been skating for a while and took part in a portion of practice for the first time. But he probably won't be able to play until late October. "I know we were hopeful earlier that he would maybe miss (only) the first few games, but I think he's probably a little bit behind that," Quenneville said . . . The Avalanche will reduce the roster today to no more than 23 players.
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