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Nemeth And Landeskog Reunited In Colorado

The two Swedes' friendship goes back to their childhood

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--As Patrik Nemeth prepares to leave the only NHL team he has ever known, the defenseman will have at least one familiar face to help with the transition.

Nemeth and Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeksog are both from Stockholm, Sweden, and played on the same youth teams growing up.

"We played together from 10 years old to 14 years old," Landeskog said of his friendship with Nemeth after the team's practice at Family Sports Center. "We know each other very well and see each other all the time in the summer and things like that. We know each other pretty good."

The Avalanche picked up Nemeth on waivers Tuesday morning,bringing the 25-year-old D-man from the heart of Texas to the Rocky Mountains just two days before the 2017-18 season begins.

Nemeth had played his entire career in the Dallas Stars organization after being picked No. 41 overall by the club in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 108 career NHL games over the past four seasons, recording 14 points (all assists). He's also appeared in 104 American Hockey League contests with the team's minor-league affiliate, the Texas Stars.

The left-shooting blueliner appeared in 40 contests last season for Dallas and recorded three assists, 14 penalty minutes and a minus-4 rating.

"I'm hoping he can get a good chance with us and come in and take the chance that he has been given," Landeskog said. "Glad to have him. Glad to have a buddy of mine and fellow Swede, obviously, and somebody that can hopefully help our hockey team."

Standing at 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, Nemeth plays a defensive-style game that should stabilize Colorado's young D-corps, according to Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. The Avs bench boss said Nemeth is a "big-solid defender" that is a "first-pass guy" and smart defensively.

"[It's] an addition of a guy that we know can play in the league, that has a history of being a good defender in the league," Bednar said. "He spent his whole career in Dallas and now we have the chance to give him a new opportunity here, and it's a good opportunity. We have a lot to prove with our D-corps, with our young guys especially, so we'll be a hungry group back there. He's a nice addition."

Bednar said the plan is to play Nemeth with Tyson Barrie, a right-handed rear guard with offensive-minded abilities. It's a move that aims to balance the club's top-four on defense, which includes several prospects that are trying to break into the NHL full-time this season.

"Hopefully [he's] a guy that can play with Tyson Barrie and help solidify the defensive game, and maybe a guy that can give Tyson a little more freedom to get up and join and help us offensively," Bednar said.

For Landeskog, it will be a reunion of sorts.

Landeskog and Nemeth last played on the same squad as members of Team Sweden at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship, but their paths usually cross several times during the summer and they practice with one another as part of their offseason training program.

"We skate together all of August when we go back home in Stockholm, and we're always on the ice together," Landeskog said. "In Stockholm, when you're the same age and you have the same kind of friends, obviously you run into each other once and awhile. We play golf once and awhile as well."

There won't be much time for golf now as the Avs are in their final preparations for the season opener at the New York Rangers on Thursday.

Bednar didn't know when Nemeth would join the team, but he seemed confident that the rear guard would be ready to play on opening night.

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