Avalanche Defensive Prospects (part 2 of 2)

Last Tuesday we took a look at Kevin Shattenkirk, Cameron Gaunce, and Jonas Holøs. Today we open our books to page 19, chapter 21: Colby Cohen, Stefan Elliot, Joel Choiunard, and Tyson Barrie. Are any of these young pups ready for primetime? You be the judge.

 

COLBY COHEN

Height: 6-2  Weight: 200

Shoots: Right

Born: April 25, 1989, (21 years old), Villanova, PA

Drafted: Colorado's second choice (45th overall) in the 2007 entry draft

Contract Status: signed for 3 years at a 875,000.

Fun Fact: Colby’s cousin, Jeremy Bloom, was a wide receiver for the University of Colorado football team and competed for Team USA in both the 2002 and 2006 Olympics as a freestyle skier.

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Colby Cohen's recent development has basically mirrored Kevin Shattenkirk, mostly because they've enjoyed each other's success as linemates and teamates (and once roommates) for Boston University. They both emerged from the US under-18 development program, and they're both Americans. Cohen is the less celebrated of the two, but he ain't no slouch. He scored the OT game winner in last year's Frozen Four Final off his big right handed point shot (and that sweet set up from Shattenkirk), AND was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in four games. He previously enjoyed great numbers and success with both the under-18 team and the USHL. So just who is this Colby Cohen? Here's the Central Scouting report:

A skilled offensive defenseman… has good puck skills and a good shot from the point… makes good passes and sees the ice well… needs to improve his defensive positioning and the consistency of his work ethic.

Keep reading for more on Colby and his fellow Avalanche prospects...

 

 

Colby, or "Colb", says he tries to pattern his game after Chris Pronger. Love or hate Pronger, the Avs could use a Prongs of their own, even if he's not as big as Pronger. Colby is a deft passer and adept at moving the puck out of his own zone and up ice (imagine that on our blueline!). Here's what he had to say in his own words about his passing game:

I'd rather make a really nice breakaway pass or back door pass than score.

CC also displays good decision making and skill in the offensive zone. And while not a liability in the defensive zone, I've found a number of mentions that he needs to work on his defensive positioning. Our very own SB Nation relayed that Cohen uses his size well against opposing players, is a good point producer, and plays a well-rounded game. They also stated that he needs to cut down on bad penalties (Pronger) and adjust to the physical strain of the NHL. 

 

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Last Season Success: Colby was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star as a junior at Boston University.  He led all Hockey East defensemen with 14 goals, the most by a BU defenseman since 1977-78.  His 14 goals also tied him for second nationally among all defenders.  Cohen was the Terriers’ top scoring blueliner with 30 points (14g/16a) in 36 games and led the entire team in both power-play goals (8) and game-winning goals (5).  His five game-winning tallies ranked first among NCAA defensemen. Not too shabby.

Colby had one year left at BU, but he decided to turn pro with linemate Shattenkirk. It would have been interesting to see him on his own, as a senior, with more pressure and responsibility, but hopefully Lake Erie is the right call to help him continue developing. He got his first feel for the pro game last season with Lake Erie (when he and Shattenkirk joined the Monsters for the final 3 games), scoring one assist. He has all the tools to be an impact player in the NHL, it's just a matter of how he utilizes them.

Here's our resident prospect aficionado Angelique's musings on Colby:

I always felt he should have stayed at BU for his senior season.  It's easy to be hypnotized by his booming right-handed shot from the point, but he needs work on the defensive side of his game.  His decision making at times is questionable.  I think eventually he can develop into a third pairing defenseman, who contributes on the PP.  I expect him to spend some time in the AHL before he is a NHL regular.

Miscellaneous profile notes (courtesy NHL.com): if he could have dinner with any three people he would choose: his favorite NFL player Donavan McNabb, Anaheim’s Chris Pronger and former NHL’er John LeClair… favorites include: Philadelphia Flyers (NHL team), "glove side high crossbar and down" (shootout move), SportsCenter (TV show), Liar Liar (movie), Johnny Depp (actor), Fifa 2007 (video game), Jay Z (rap artist) and Rascal Flatts (group).

 

 

JOEL CHOUINARD

Height: 6' 1"  Weight:186

Shoots: Left

Born: April 8, 1990 (20 years old), Longueuil, Quebec

Drafted: Colorado's fifth choice, 6th Round (167th overall) in the 2008 entry draft

Contract Status: Signed in May 2010 to an entry-level contract for three years at $566,667

Who? Joel mutha f'n Chouinard, that's who. The supposed "after-thought" 6th round draftee only led all QMJHL defensemen with 23 goals and finished second in scoring with 68 points in 65 games for his Victoriaville Tigres (or "Tigers" for you American English fans out there). Assistant Captain Chouinard was also named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team and was a finalist for the Emile "Butch" Bouchard Trophy as the QMJHL’s BEST defenseman. Joel also led his team with a +23 plus/minus rating while potting 13 power-play goals in his fourth season with Victoriaville. In the post season, he went off for 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) in 16 playoff games, leading all Tigres defensemen. Off the ice, Chouinard won the QMJHL’s Paul-Dumont Trophy as the "Personality of the Year" for his ambassador work in the local community and was a finalist for the Marcel-Robert Trophy as the QMJHL Scholastic Player of the Year.

So let's recap: Joel Chouinard plays an award worthy defensive game, scores like a forward, is a genius, and boasts personality plus. I hate him already.

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Chouinard is a skilled passer and shooter, but the majority of his time with Les Tigres has seen him fall into the default role of defensive tough guy because of his decent physical stature relative to the rest of the QMJHL. This last season however, his offense really hit the spotlight, and Joel brought his PIMs under control, helping to lead his team on a strong playoff run waltzing past St. Patrick's Remparts in the quarterfinals. The Avs may have hit the powerball jackpot with Chouinard because nobody expects a 6th round pick to ever really develop into a legitimate full time NHL threat, but Chouinard may surprise the hockey world. The Avs are just lucky (or good scouting) he waited to explode offensively until AFTER the draft, otherwise there is no way he would have still been around in round six. It's all good news with Chouinard. Consider him the dark horse candidate to make the an NHL debut in 2010-2011. Plus, the ladies will love him.

 

Inside scoop on JC courtesy of Angelique,

Before his offensive outburst this past season, he really focused on his defensive game.  I see him in Lake Erie next season with a chance to continue on improving his all-around game.  The competition is pretty stiff on the defensive side.  Chouinard may be better off with 1-2 years in Lake Erie to refine his game.

 

 

TYSON BARRIE

Height: 5' 10"  Weight: 190

Shoots: Right

Born: July 26, 1991, (18 years old),Victoria, BC

Drafted: Colorado's 4th choice (64th overall) in the 3rd round of the 2009 entry draft

Contract Status: Avalanche hold rights through next season

Fun Fact: Childhood idle was Rob Blake (meaning the Rob Blake of the Avalanche days)

The smallest of the Avs' D prospects we'll review, Tyson Barrie enjoyed another solid season in '09-'10 after helping his Kelowna Rockets win the WHL title in '08-'09 alongside Tyler Myers. Barrie's shot isn't going to woo many ice girls, he has not obtained much international experience, and he is small, but he's got great drive and desire for the puck. Barrie is skillful at sifting the puck out of traffic areas and he is confident, consistent and accurate with his overall play. And while he is small, IF he beefs up, his height will not be as much of a factor because of what else he brings to the table.

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For the record, Tyler Myers had 6 goals, 13 assists for 19 points in Kelowna's 07-08 season (to Barrie's 43), and 9 goals, 33 assists for 42 points in 08-09 (to Barrie's 52). Now it'd be inappropriate to suggest these two play a similar game, but what is interesting is to compare Barrie's output to Calder favorite Myer's performance under such similar circumstances as teammates/linemates. And the year that Barrie took the reigns with no Schenn or Myers around, he put up the best offensive numbers of his career, so he wasn't simply riding coattails.

Trailer Arnasen's little brother, Tyson, gives a lot of the credit for his development to his old man, Len who played 344 WHL games and won the scoring title in the 1989-90 season with whopping 185 points in 70 games. Tyson's papa played 14 professional seasons and is now a co-owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"With my dad, the biggest thing was that he always pushed me to work my hardest off the ice. On the ice, he’d let me know if I was doing something well, but he’d also let me know if I wasn’t. I think he pushed me harder than everyone else on those teams to make me better. Away from the rink, it was good to be able to talk to him about things because he’s been there and has played in the NHL".

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Tyson is still only 18 as of this post, and so he has plenty of time to take advantage of, and really refine his game to prepare for the pros. He is projected to be a 3rd or 4th defenseman, but he will definitely require some time to ripen.

Expert analysis by Angelique,

Not a popular draft pick this time last year, but really turned some heads this season.  He learned a lot playing with the likes of Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers in the past (Editor's note: Barrie was paired with first Schenn, and later Myers, over two of his seasons in Kelowna).  He was a work horse for Kelowna this year, but not ready for the jump to the pros quite yet.  Barrie admittedly isn't the fastest of skaters and with the Avs holding his rights for another year, there isn't a rush to elevate him to the NHL.  Plus the Avs have too few openings on the blueline going into the 10-11 season.  I expect Barrie to spend another season with the Rockets.


STEFAN ELLIOT

Height: 6-1  Weight: 180

Shoots: Right

Born: Jan 30, 1991, (19 years old), Vancouver, BC

Drafted: Colorado's third choice (49th overall) in the 2009 entry draft

Contract Status: Rights held by Avalanche for another season

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Another "steal" by the Avs in last year's entry draft, Elliot has been compared to boasting a Brian Rafalski or Tomas Kaberle type skill set, and the prediction of top three or four NHL defenseman future. He enjoyed a break out season in the WHL and has earned important roles on special teams, 5 on 5, and in leadership with his Saskatoon Blades. Keeping with the Avs' love affair with mobile defenseman, Stefan can lead or support the rush, owns quality snap and wrist shots, above average puck handling skills, smart passing, but more importantly he is very skilled at creating offense with his vision and anticipation and then following through with his assets listed above, making him a boon to any power play.

Defensively, Elliot skillfully forces opponents to the outside with his skating, stick, and positioning, rather than his strength. He needs to get stronger and more physical in front of his own net, and fill out that 6' 1" frame.

Stefan says he tries to pattern his play after Scott Neidermayer and Mike Green. Here's what he had to say about his game:

I like to kind of be exciting out there. I like to join the rush, be part of the offense, but at the same time I'm a defenseman in my responsibility.

The good news for the Avalanche is that this kid is the complete package with tons of upside, AND the Avs don't have any pressure to hurry him along. He's younger than the other prospects (except for Barrie) and so with all the other young talent on the blueline ahead of Elliot, the Avalanche have the good fortune of letting him beat up the WHL a little longer and perfecting his all around game even more. Be excited.

Jori says,

He's in the same boat as Barrie in that there is no rush to elevate him.  Another season with Saskatoon would be beneficial.  He still needs to clean up his defensive game, but offensively he's a gem.


 

Conclusion

Before typing up these posts, I had been operating under the common impression that our D prospects were puny little puck movers that were too small for the NHL, and maybe they were a year or two ago when they were drafted, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see that they're not as tiny as I thought (yes, I know, that's what she said). And while nobody is a 6' 9" Chara, at least it's not seven Johnny Hot Pockets (in Beachie's wildest dreams). Hopefully they all bulk up, and fingers crossed that a few of these predicted 3rd and 4th pairing Defenseman will develop into a 1st or 2nd pairing stud.

Colby Cohen 6'2"  200 lbs

Cameron Gaunce  6'1"  203 lbs

Joel Chouinard  6'1"  186 lbs

Stefan Elliot  6'1"  180 lbs

Jonas Holøs  5'11"  198 lbs

Kevin Shattenkirk  5'11"  193 lbs

Tyson Barrie  5'10"  190 lbs

 

* All player stats in this post were stolen/borrowed from Hockeydb.com. Thanks dudes.

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