Ryan Stoa was the Avs' first draft pick in the 2005 draft - 10 spots ahead of Paul Stastny - but has yet to find his groove at the NHL level. Has the window of opportunity closed on him?
Several people feel that the answer is an emphatic "yes"...and the majority of them said that as efficiently as possible.
Ryan Boulding, The Avalanche Guild: If you have met me or heard me talk about Stoa, you know that I think the window of opportunity shut in his face before last season even started. By the end of the year, I was flabbergasted as to why he was getting ice time over guys like Greg Mauldin or even Philippe Dupuis. Stoa seems to have the "Chris Stewart" story going on except, instead of working his ass off and evolving into an NHL quality player, he has peaked in the AHL where he clearly succeeds. Stoa isn't worth developing any longer. I actually used to mix up former forward Chris Durno and Stoa all the time, and Durno got his walking papers after the 2009-10 season. The two were the same slow player to me and Stoa needs to follow in his doppelganger's footsteps.
Sean Payton, Anyone But Detroit: Stoa had his final chance to show the Avs and the rest of the league that he belonged in the NHL when he played in 16 games during the final quarter of last season. Result? All of 2 assists. Result of that? Window closed
Matt Muzia, SBN Denver: Who?
Austin Snow, Avs Chill Zone: Ryan who?
Mike @ MHH, Mile High Hockey: Yeppers.
Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice: Stoa will be a career AHL'er, so yes.
Geoff Rosenthal, The Avs Factor: The window is closed and has been nailed shut.
For others, the window hasn't quite closed...but he'll probably need to turn things around this year.
Cheryl Bradley, Mile High Hockey & Avalanche Breakaway: This year will be the litmus test for Stoa: perform or wear a different sweater next year. If he is bid farewell at the end of the season, I believe he will be picked up by another NHL team and get another shot at the big leagues. However, unless he figures out that he's 6'3" and weighs 200 lbs, he won't ever be the player a high-second round draft pick should be. He will continue to flourish in the AHL regardless, but his determination for NHL play is so very questionable. It very well could be lack of confidence, and a different coach could make all the difference. No matter the reason, his time with the Avs is drawing to a close unless he embraces the power forward role completely.
Adrian Dater, Denver Post: Almost. I have to admit I was semi-shocked when they re-signed him over the summer. But I guess a guy with his size, combined with a still-tender age, is hard to just write off. But I just have never been a big Stoa fan. I just haven't seen the toughness and determination around the net that makes all the difference in a guy who puts the puck in the net and a guy who doesn't. And, defensively, he hasn't been good enough either. His skating seemed to be OK last year, but he still trailed the play too much. If he doesn't have a real good training camp, he'll probably be back in Lake Erie again - and he'd then have - even more than he already does - the tag of "career minor-leaguer."
Brett Shumway, Mile High Hockey: Everyone knows Redheads blossom later in life, but I just haven't seen anything from Stoa to make me think he can play at a consistently high level in the NHL. If he can get faster and play D he could find a niche as a bottom 6 guy, but the clock is definitely ticking.
Andi D, Mile High Hockey: Stoa is a bit of an enigma. He's not really a scorer, but he's not really a grinder either. I'm just not sure where he fits on the team. He's in his contract year as well, so unless he can prove he's a legitimate sniper or a power forward by really racking up points and/or hits in the AHL this year (possibly the NHL if he earns a call-up), I doubt the Avs will waste one of their 50 contracts on him next year. I think he can still have a solid career in the AHL, but his NHL days are most likely drawing to a close.
Angélique Murray, Colorado Avalanche Prospects, Mile High Hockey & Chicks Who Give A Puck: With Ryan Stoa signing only a one-year contract, this is a make or break season for him. Stoa has been a good player on the AHL level, but isn't consistent and has yet to translate his performance to the NHL level. His skating and lack of passion at times has put his play into question. Stoa has to turn it up another level this season. I've been a big advocate of Stoa in the past, but something in the back of my head tells me he'll be with another organization this time next year.
Nic Zamora, Avaholics Anonymous: It's close but I'm fine with giving him a little more time. Typically, power forwards take longer to develop and even moreso for ones not drafted in the 1st round. I'd like to see another full season in Lake Erie for Stoa and then if he still can't crack the roster after next season's training camp then we should cut ties.
David from Slovakia, Eurolanche: The season 2011/12 will be the very last chance for Ryan Stoa. He is big and like-body checks player, but that is all. There was, is and will be many players with these skills which should play in the third or in the fourth line. Stoa is not something special, but he was supposed to be. Stoa will play around 20 games for the Avs and this will be his end. I remember that scouts reproached him his slow speed. It has not changed much over the last years.
Jaye Horbay, Mile High Sticking: Stoa to me is an enigma. While he shows flashes of brilliance, it's always been because someone else is carrying him as the dead weight on their line. Put him with ‘lesser' players and he disappears. I don't think the window has closed, but Sacco and Co. can't seem to find the right fit for him where he can succeed night in and out. I think he'll be pushed at camp; hopefully it's out the door.
Sandie Gauthier, Mile High Hockey: The fact that Ryan is still in the Avalanche system means the Avs have had faith in him, at least thus far. I think this is his last year though, make the most of it Stoa.
Aaron Musick, HockeyBuzz: It has on this team but he could be traded midseason to a team willing to take a chance on him. His skating is awful, he doesn't think about the game and his defense is atrocious. Stoa has been given every opportunity to succeed, including a preseason slot on the first line when Peter Mueller was injured, and came up with a zero every time. Stoa is the equivalent to the Colorado Rockies third basemen Ian Stewart; lots of talent but no results and very little confidence from the coaching staff.
David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: Stoa is the classic chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. Has he not shown anything at the NHL level because he hasn't been given much of a chance, or has he not been given much of a chance because he hasn't shown anything on the NHL level? So far, the only two positive things we can say about Stoa is that he's still young and has shown a willingness to go to the net at times. That's probably not enough.
There were a few, though, who think there's still time left
AJ Haefele, Mile High Hockey: I feel extremely uncomfortable saying a player with as much physical upside as Ryan Stoa has had his window of opportunity close at age 24. While his struggles are well-documented, the guy is still trying to find his legs. I think the Avalanche have made moves that would indicate his time in Colorado is rapidly nearing its end but I think he still has plenty of time to find himself in the NHL. Sometimes it takes players a bit longer to figure out how to carve their niche in the NHL and learn their roles. I don't necessarily think it'll ever happen for Stoa but I do think it's too soon to close the book on him.
Derek Bell, Mile High Hockey: I'm not really sure that the NHL window can close on a player until the player decides it's closed. Want an example? Look no further than Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas. He was bouncing around the IHL, ECHL and Finnish leagues, among others, before he was given a chance. He said he always felt he could play at the NHL level but wasn't ever really given a chance. After given his chance, the results truly speak for themselves.
Mike Chambers, Denver Post: No, he's just 24. But I don't see him making the team out of camp and, because of newcomers like Gabriel Landeskog, Joey Hishon, Brad Malone, Chuck Kobasew, Joakim Lindstrom and Patrick Rissmiller, I doubt Stoa will see any time with the Avs.
Training camp opens in less than a week. With a crowded roster, though, Stoa faces some long odds to make the team on opening night. Part of that is due to the presence of tomorrow's Roundtable topic: Gabriel Landeskog