Welcome back Avalanche faithful. If you've awakened from your summer hibernation and looked at your calendar you've probably already noticed that the sleepy month of August has drawn to a close. Tickets are on sale, expansion rumors are flying across the internet, and Avalanche players are returning to Colorado in droves (except McGinn probably *snickersnickersnicker). All that can only mean one thing... hockey season is just around the corner.
Now we're just days away from what is, in my opinion, the most interesting Avalanche training camp in many years. Since I am trapped in enemy territory and won't be attending training camp this season, I'll be previewing the festivities throughout the rest of this week. There are a number of compelling battles and new faces this year and I'll do my best to outline them all in the coming days so our MHH staff along with YOU dear reader, can let us fans abroad know everything that happens in excruciating detail. Here's a look at the week:
- Wednesday AM - Invites, Absences, and Rookies
- Wednesday PM - The Pros
- Thursday AM - Camp Battles
- Thursday PM - Stories to Watch
- Friday - MHH Staff Picks
Much to my dismay the Avalanche are yet to announce an official training camp roster. When the official list is released rest assured that we will have it here and make any corrections necessary. Until then this article should serve as an adequate substitute (Big thanks to Earl06 for helping me track down information on a number of these guys and their camp status).
Before we start preparing for what WILL happen at this training camp, lets give a quick honorable mention to some of the guys we won't see at the Family Sports Center next week.
- 5'10" 190 LD
- The big travesty of this year's training camp is that Avalanche fans wont have the opportunity to watch Will Butcher play with and against NHL talent. But that's the consequence of drafting out of the NCAA. Butcher had a good start to his college hockey career, scoring 8 goals and 16 points in 38 games for the Pioneers before scoring 2 goals and 5 points in 5 games with Team USA at the World Junior Championship. Butcher will look to build on his rookie campaign with the Pioneers, and as the Pios look to rebuild their program, Butcher could start looking towards an early transition to the professional scene.
- 6'6" 220 LD
- The hulking defenseman picked up just a single assist in his 30 games with St. Cloud State as a freshman. Storm was never projected as a big scorer, but he surely needs to build on those numbers in his sophomore year if he wants to catch the eye of any Avalanche scouts.
- 5'10" 181 C
- He's not technically an Avalanche prospect, but the Avalanche do appear to have some curiosity about the 6'0" forward and former DU recruit. At this point a future for Landon Smith with the Avalanche organization remains unlikely. After attending the Avalanche's prospect development camp earlier this summer, Landon Smith is poised to begin his first season with the Quinnipiac Bobcats. While Quinnipiac doesn't have a long track record of NHL success, their program has become increasingly competitive in recent years. In 2013 they saw ten players invited to NHL development camps and in 2014 they saw their first alum play in an NHL game (Bryce Van Brabant with the Calgary Flames). That said, if Landon Smith continues his upward trajectory and has a good collegiate career with the Bobcats, the Avalanche would have an inside track on signing the forward. And wouldn't that make a good story...
- 5'11" 196 RD
- Yes, yes. The good old ø makes an appearance on this list as well. After two years in the SEL, Holøs made his KHL debut last season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, scoring 6 goals and 14 points in 52 games with the squad. The 8th seed Lokomotiv team enjoyed a dream run to the Western Conference finals after toppling Dynamo Moscow in the first round. In addition, Holøs played a large role on the Norwegian Olympic team. Although Norway was eliminated from Olympic competition during the group stage, Holøs played well in big minutes for the team, despite being woefully overmatched against Finland and Canada in the group stage. While it's unlikely that Jonas Holøs ever returns to North America to play hockey, he is still listed as an Avalanche prospect, and the Avalanche still retain his rights if he chose to return.
- 5'10" 165 RW
- The Avalanche have drafted very few Russian players in their history as an organization, fewer since they drafted right wing Denis Parshin. Parshin had another respectable season in the KHL last year, scoring 15 goals and 33 points in 46 games. That's not a bad clip considering that the league's tenth highest scorer last season (Marcel Hossa) netted just 41 points. Regardless, the diminutive skilled winger will likely never find a home in North America. The two parties haven't showed much interest in one another since the 2004 draft and now, 10 years later, his inclusion on the Avalanche prospect page has become something of a running joke. Don't look for Parshin on this year's cam roster, but hope that if he does make his way to Colorado he can beat out Jimmy Howard for the title of "most fossilized Calder finalist."
Up in the Air:
Based on history it seems unlikely that the Avalanche prospects playing in Europe will be in attendance next week. Defensman Wilhelm Westlund, selected in 2013, did not participate in last year's training camp and there's no word yet as to whether or not he will attend Avs camp this year. The Avalanche's two European selections from 2014, Anton Lindholm and Maximillian Pajpach, are also slated to play in Europe next season, so their attendance seems unlikely (sorry A.J.).
On August 15th the Avalanche lost rights to Gus Young and Luke Moffatt. Gus Young has latched on with another team, signing a contract with San Jose's affiliate, the Worcester Sharks, while Moffat will head to Frolunda for a 6-week tryout. Former Avalanche draft pick Joseph Blandisi will try his luck at the Buffalo Sabres training camp. Good luck to all those former Avlets in pursuing careers in hockey long term.
Now for the boys who will be wearing Blue, Black, Burgundy, and Grey next week. Let's start from the bottom up. As usual, this year's training camp will feature a number of tryouts and players who are tied solely to the Lake Erie Monsters. While these AHL exclusive players are not technically part of the Colorado Avalanche prospect pool, these players, when successful can often play their way into a contract with the big club. Cody McLeod, Patrick Bordeleau, and others have worked their way onto the Avalanche via this route.
- 6'2" 185 C
- 19 year old Oliver Cooper is another large scoring forward from the QMJHL. Expect the Avalanche to look at a lot of these guys from the Q over the next few years since Roy and Tourigney have so much experience scouting them. Cooper scored 28 goals and 57 points in 68 games while wearing an "A" for the Saint John Sea Dogs. Next year he will return to the QMJHL with the Charlottetown Islanders, and unless signed by the Avs, he will likely re-enter the draft.
- 6'2" 202 RD
- The undrafted son of Hall of Fame defenseman Al Iafrate signed a tryout deal with the Lake Erie Monsters at the end of last season. Like his father Iafrate is a large defenseman (6'2") with a good shot. Unlike his father, Iafrate has been coached to play more like a defensive defenseman. Despite that change, Iafrate still managed 8 goals and 30 points in 57 games for the Kitchener Rangers last year. Those types normally take longer to develop, and the Avalanche probably hope that they've found a diamond in the rough in Iafrate. Iafrate played one game with Lake Erie last season on a tryout contract but did not register a point.
- 6'1" 205 LD
- Another in the Avalanche's plethora of left-shooting defenseman is Duncan MacIntyre. MacIntyre is a 6'0" defenseman with limited offense entering his 3rd season in juniors, and his 1st season as a member of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Prior to that MacIntyre earned 12 points in 43 games and 11 points in 54 games with the Quebec Remparts. In 2012-2013 he worked under Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. I don't understand this invite much... but you've got to think it has something to do with Roy's prior experience with the kid.
- 6'1" 211 C
- Reid Petryk attended the Colorado Avalanche Prospect Development camp and will be join the organization again for the Avalanche's full training camp. Petryk played 2 games for the Monsters at the end of the 2012-2013 season and did not register a point. When his ATO with the Monsters concluded, he went back to juniors only to score 17 goals and 39 assists for the Edmonton Oil Kings last year. The Avalanche seem to have a continuing interest in Petryk, as they re-invited him to their prospect camp this summer, but at 21 years old and close to pro size (6'1" 211) the Edmonton center is facing a pivotal camp if he wants to play at a level beyond the CHL.
- 6'0" 181 C
- Another completely new face in this group is QMJHL forward Marcus Power. Power is a 6'0" center who worked under Andre Tourigney on the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies team. Much like Avalanche prospect Michael Sgarbossa, Power saw an enormous leap in scoring during his final year of juniors. Last year Power scored a whopping 31 goals and 109 points in 67 games and finished second in QMJHL scoring behind highly touted scoring prospect Anthony Mantha. With a good rookie camp performance Power could land a spot with the Monsters or Komets.
- 6'3" 209 LD
- Matt Pufahl appears to be in the same boat as Landon Smith. The former Saskatoon Blades defenseman signed a tryout contract with Lake Erie late last season and scored 1 goal in his 5 games with the Monsters. Pufahl put up solid numbers as a defenseman in his final two seasons in junior. He scored 43 points in 69 games with Saskatoon followed by 49 points in 62 games in Everett where he worked as the Silvertips captain. The 6'3" left handed shot is slated to play for Acadia University in Nova Scotia next season. NCAA and Canadian college programs work differently, so it is possible that Pufahl attends the Avs full training camp.
- 6'5" 209 LW
- We know that Lake Erie fan favorite Schumacher has arrived in Denver for training camp with a number of the Avalanche's other European skaters (Everberg, Rendulic, and Lauridsen). Last year Schumacher scored 8 goals and 18 points in 21 games with the Denver Cutthroats before jumping up to the AHL where he scored another 12 goals and 19 points in 45 games. That's a pretty good breakout season for the gargantuan (6'5") winger. He's currently unsigned and this camp will likely be his last chance for a contract in the Avs organization this season.
- 6'0" 180 C
- The 7th round draft pick's commitment to the Avalanche expired last month, but before he could latch on with another organization the Lake Erie Monsters signed him to an AHL contract. Despite a down season last year, Condon was an important part of last year's Minnesota squad and served as captain for the NCAA runner-ups. Condon is a 6'0" left-shooting center who should provide the Monsters with good depth, he is an excellent skater and was a key fixture on the Golden Gopher's penalty kill during his 4-years in the NCAA.
Francois Tremblay: UNCONFIRMED
- 6'2" 186 G
- In a somewhat surprising (and still unconfirmed) move the Lake Erie Monsters supposedly signed Francois Tremblay to a one year, two-way AHL contract. The two-way status indicates that Tremblay can easily be moved between the Monsters and Komets this coming season, but the signing is curious considering Lake Erie's strong depth in net with Pickard and Aittokallio. Although the plan appears to be placing Tremblay in the ECHL, this is a prospect with some solid potential. Tremblay was a 5th round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2012, and earlier this summer he was ranked 11th on Hockey's Future's Top 20 Blues Prospects list.
The rest of these guys are "In the System" officially. They are yet to play a pro season at the NHL or AHL level and the Avalanche own their exclusive contract rights.
Chris Bigras - (2013)
- 6'1" 189 LD
- Arguably the Avalanche's top prospect, Chris Bigras' is not eligible for AHL play. He will either make the Avalanche roster or head back to Owen Sound as the team's #1 defenseman. Bigras is an excellent skater and defensive defenseman who plays a sound positional game. He was voted the OHL's "best defensive defenseman" in 2013-2014 despite playing much of the second half with a foot injury. Our draft profile on Bigras here.
Conner Bleackley - (2014)
- 6'1" 195 C
- The Avalanche's 2014 first rounder will attend his first NHL camp this summer. Like Bigras he is unable to play in the AHL due to age and will either make the NHL or return to the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. According to Red Deer's coach Brent Sutter, Bleackley will almost certainly return to juniors this season but... stranger things have happened, and to players with a similar play style (*coughO'Reillycough). Our draft profile on Bleackley is here.
Troy Bourke - (2012)
- 5'10" 170 LW
- Last year Troy Bourke turned a few heads as he played on a line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly in the early stages of training camp. Duchene lauded the winger for his on ice vision and creativity, which is cool, because Duchene is a pretty damn good judge of that kind of thing. Bourke played 15 games with Lake Erie at the end of last season, registering 7 points and he will most likely return to Lake Erie this year for his first pro-season. Our draft profile on Bourke here.
Cody Corbett - (UFA)
- 6'1" 204 LD
- This undrafted defenseman had a strong overage season with the Edmonton Oil Kings, scoring 61 points in 65 games in the regular season, followed by 13 points in 21 playoff games, and 6 points in 5 games throughout the Memorial Cup. Corbett will most likely take a spot on the Lake Erie Monsters blue line this year. Our profile on Corbett here.
Dennis Everberg - (UFA)
- 6'4" 205 RW
- This hulking Swedish forward scored 45 points in 63 games for Rogle BK Angelholm last season. He signed an ELC with the Avalanche this summer as a free agent and will likely spend the year with the Lake Erie Monsters as a depth forward. If this were the "all hair" team, he would have a definite spot waiting for him in the big leagues...
Mason Geertsen - (2013)
- 6'4" 205 LD
- When the Avalanche drafted Mason Geertsen in the 4th round in 2013, the enormous, bruising defenseman told interviewers that he knew he had a lot of room to grow, and needed to work on growing his offensive game. He prided himself on doubling his offensive numbers from the 2012 season to the 2013 season and guess what folks? He doubled those numbers again in 2014. 3 points in 34, 14 points in 73, and 23 points in 66. He's never going to be a scorer, but it is an encouraging trend. Geertsen had an impressive camp and spectacular Burgundy and White game last year and will look to solidify his spot in the coaches' minds as a prospect to watch moving forward. Our draft profile on Geertsen here.
Samuel Henley - (UFA)
- 6'4" 210 RW
- The overage winger had the best season of his junior career last year. Like Corbett, Samuel Henley went deep into the playoffs and memorial cup, eventually facing off against his soon to be Monsters teammate. Henley brings tons of size and maintained over a point per game pace last season. 69 points in 51 regular season games, followed by 28 points in 24 playoff games and 2 points in 4 Memorial Cup games.
Nick Magyar - (2014)
- 6'2" 194 RW
- The Kitchener Rangers leading scorer enters his first camp after being selected in the 4th round of last year's draft. Want to know more? He played for the Sioux City Musketeers. That's more than enough for me to root for him. GO MUSKIES! Also here's his draft profile.
- 6'3" 200 G
- This is one big goalie and boy did he look big at last year's training camp. Martin had a very impressive 2013 training camp and earned the praise of Patrick Roy on multiple occasions. Martin only posted a .898 SV% last season, but did so while facing over 2000 shots (32.4 per night) on a struggling Steelheads team. After a challenging season Martin has the opportunity to reestablish himself in the minds of the Avalanche coaching staff. Our draft profile on Martin is here.
Julien Nantel - (2014)
- 6'4" 193 C
- Julien Nantel will be reunited with his former coach Andre Tourigney when he joins Avalanche camp next week. Not especially dynamic with the puck, Nantel's skill set lends itself better to two way play and penalty killing. Our draft profile on Nantel is here.
Alexis Pepin - (2014)
- 6'3" 218 LW
- It should be interesting watching Alexis Pepin carry his 218 pounds through Patrick Roy's skating intensive training camp. Needless to say, Pepin's skill set will probably lend itself better to battle drills in the corners. Our draft profile on Pepin is here.
Borna Rendulic - (UFA)
- 6'2" 200 C
- Regardless of what happens next, it's pretty cool that Borna Rendulic is the first Croatian hockey player to sign an NHL contract. If all goes well he'll see some time in the NHL in the coming years and be the first Croatian to play in an NHL game. Rendulic scored 32 points in 57 games with HPK Hameenlinna - Finland last season plus 3 goals in 6 playoff games.
Roman Will - (UFA)
- 6'1" 195 G
- Another UFA signing from the European leagues, Will signed a 2-year, ELC with the Avalanche organization. We don't know much about the 22 year old Czech goaltender, but we do know that he was elected to the QMJHL's First All-Star Team in 2011-2012 (his only year in the Q), and we can probably guess that Patrick Roy and Andre Tourigney first took notice of him while they were coaching against him. Will had a 16-4 record last season with Mlada Boleslav, and maintained a 1.84 GAA. Roman Will will likely compete with Tremblay for the starting position with the Komets, and the first call-up to the Monsters.
Kyle Wood - (2014)
- 6'5" 210 RD
- No that is not a typo, the Avalanche list Kyle Wood at 6'5" 210 lbs. He's a big dude. As we outlined in our original draft profile, the big hope here is that Wood can develop into an excellent partner for Siemens (teehee). Wood scored 12 points in 33 games last season, plus another 10 points in 22 playoff games. Our draft profile on Wood is here.
Check back this afternoon as we'll run through the pro players attending this year's training camp from the Colorado Avalanche and Lake Erie Monsters.