Wednesday PM - The Pros
Thursday AM - Camp Battles
Thursday PM - Stories to Watch
Friday - MHH Staff Picks
We'll start this list with the established NHL players attending this year's training camp. For the purposes of this article I'll define "established" as players who have played 100 or more games in the NHL.
Established NHL Forwards:
- 5'11" 200 C
- The Avs undisputed #1 center enters the 2015 season with some stability for the first time in his career. Duchene has rarely had consistent linemates across seasons during his career, but this season he'll continue working with linemate and fellow '09 draftee Ryan O'Reilly. The two developed mind-boggling chemistry in last year's training camp and built on it all season with a number of set plays down low. Duchene will look to maintain a point per game or near point per game pace for a third consecutive season.
- 6'0" 210 C/LW
- With his first full season as a winger complete expect Ryan O'Reilly to continue building chemistry with line-mate Matt Duchene. If last year's camp was about learning how to play on the wing, this year's camp is about building on that success and perfecting the position.
- 6'1" 210 LW
- Landeskog spent a majority of the last two seasons playing with former Av Paul Stastny. This camp he will look to build chemistry with his new center, Nathan MacKinnon. As Captain look for Landeskog to set the tone for this training camp, and with it, the season.
- 6'1" 210 RW
- Iginla is without a doubt the Avalanche's biggest addition this summer. Some early radio interviews from Patrick Roy have Iginla playing with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, but if there are a number of possible combinations that could spark chemistry in camp. Pay attention to who Iginla sparks with to identify the Avalanche's top two lines.
- 6'1" 194 LW/RW
- Adrian Dater at the Denver Post indicated at the end of last season that Alex Tanguay would have been ready for NHL action if the Avalanche had advanced to the Conference Finals. It's easy to assume that Tanguay is 100% now, with additional months of rehab and training, but at his age an injury of that type and severity can hamper a player into the following season. Training camp will be an important step for Tanguay to prove he's healthy and ready to compete in the Avalanche's top six.
- 6'0" 195 C
- MacKinnon is the first exemption to my 100 game rule for "established NHLers." MacKinnon has yet to accumulate 100 games in the NHL, but there is no doubt that this 19 year old center is a bona-fide NHL player. MacKinnon put on 13 pounds of muscle this summer, and according to John Tavares, Bob McKenzie and others, is ready to compete at a high level. MacKinnon will enter this camp as the team's second line center, replacing Paul Stastny in the lineup.
- 6'1" 210 LW
- With the addition of Jarome Iginla and a healthy Alex Tanguay to the Avs' lineup, Jamie McGinn will likely bump back down the roster to the 3rd line. If a player falters above him, look to McGinn as the first guy fighting to move into the top six.
- 5'9" 174 C
- It's hard to believe that Daniel Briere was a 50 point forward just 2 years ago, and a 68 point forward the year before that. Age and a move to Montreal have not been kind to Daniel Briere and he comes into Avalanche camp looking to revitalize his career in the last year of his NHL contract. Roy suggested early in the summer that Briere will play wing on the third line with John Mitchell and Jamie McGinn.
- 6'1" 204 C
- John Mitchell's career best 2014 season was cut short by a concussion. While Mitchell is something of a polarizing player on these boards, it was clear how much the Avalanche missed his presence on the 3rd line in the final 7 games and playoffs.
- 5'11" 190 C/W
- The veteran checking forward had a strong bounce-back season for the Avalanche last year, doubling his 2013 points total and playing a crucial role on the Avs' penalty kill. With Paul Stastny, Cory Sarich, and J.S. Giguere gone, Talbot will likely step into a larger leadership role with this young team. That starts with his new role as "Uncle Max" to his houseguest Nathan MacKinnon.
- 6'2" 210 LW
- Most of 2014 was a disaster for Cody McLeod. He scored just 1 more point in 71 games than he did in 2013's lockout shortened season. That said, McLeod's play did improve substantially down the final stretch of the regular season. McLeod is well liked and a leader in the Avalanche dressing room, but will have to find a way to be more effective on the ice this year.
- 6'6" 225 LW
- For an enforcer, it's shocking to see that Patrick Bordeleau has played in all but two Avalanche games dating back to the beginning of the 2012-2013 season. That is an impressive feat and speaks volumes about Bordeleau's work ethic, that he has won over two different coaches despite his lack of pure talent. With the depth added to the Avalanche's bottom six this season it could, and should be considerably harder for Bordeleau to make the Avs' lineup 82 times.
- 6'1" 205 C
- Winchester matched his career best 18 points last year and set a career high for points per game with the Florida Panthers. The depth forward will battle for a spot on the Avalanche's 4th line this training camp.
Established NHL Defense:
- 6'4" 232 RD
- Johnson tied his career best in points last season with 39 tallies in 80 games. EJ found good chemistry with Jan Hejda and the two were extremely successful in the first half of the season, this season he could continue playing with Jan Hejda or find himself paired with newcomer Brad Stuart. Either way Johnson will be doing the heavy lifting on the top pairing again this year. Camp will be a test of which partner gels best with the Avs #1.
- 6'4" 230 LD
- Hejda had a successful first half of the season but age, knee, and hand injuries caught up to him and he became notably less effective as the season wore on. This training camp is about rebounding and preparing to be overmatched with big minutes again. If Hejda can further develop his chemistry with Erik Johnson it could help compensate for his aging body.
- 5'10" 190 RD
- Barrie just squeaks past the 100 game mark with NHL games in each of the last three seasons. Barrie had a career year last season in his contract year and took a fair bridge deal. Barrie says that his knee is 100% for the coming season, so watch to see if he's kept his speed and agility in training camp. Last year Barrie played with a hodgepodge of partners, but with the addition of Brad Stuart, Barrie will likely spend camp and preseason working to develop chemistry with a new, more permanent defensive partner.
- 6'2" 215 LD
- Once a respected 1st/2nd pairing defenseman in the NHL, Brad Stuart has shown steady decline as he's played into his early 30's. Stuart struggled in his most recent 2-year stint with the Sharks, and the Avalanche will hope that a change of scenery and defensive system will help revitalize Stuart.
- 6'1" 210 LD
- The undrafted Ryan Wilson was once a highly respected Avalanche defenseman who showed flashes of brilliance, and the consistency to play on the second pairing. Injury woes have limited him to just 40 games in the last two years, and he hasn't played 60 games since the 2010-2011 season. This is the last year of Wilson's contract and his last chance to regain a spot in the Avs' top six.
- 6'1" 200 RD
- Bruno Gervais has 418 games of NHL experience under his belt at the age of 29. After a year in the AHL Gervais will look to regain an NHL roster spot with the Avalanche this year. Gervais could be an upgrade over Nate Guenin but don't worry about him competing with players like Johnson and Barrie, he'll be fighting for a spot on either the 3rd pairing or in the press box as a 7th/8th D.
Established NHL Goaltenders:
- 6'2" 209 L
- The Avs have hitched their wagon to this guy long term. Not it's time to see if he repeat his spectacular 2013-2014 performance.
Next are the guys with limited NHL experience >100 Games.
Limited NHL Experience Forwards:
- 6'2" 204 C
- 88 NHL Games
- After a brief stint with the KHL's Ak Bars Kazan squad Tomas Vincour has returned to North America in search of another chance at the NHL. Vincour signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Avalanche last month and will battle in camp for a place at the top of Lake Erie's depth chart or at the bottom of the Avs'. Vincour has 7 goals and 16 points in his 88 career NHL games.
Marc Andre Cliché
- 6'0" 202 C
- 77 NHL Games
- Cliche earned a great deal of trust from the Avalanche coaching staff last season, first in the form of 76 games played, then in the form of a multi-year contract extension, and finally in the form of 3rd line minutes in the playoffs. The Avs additions to the bottom six (Winchester in particular) indicate that Cliche may have lost that trust during the playoffs, encouraging the front office to bring in additional competition. Cliche will battle for the role of 13th forward on the active roster.
- 5'11" 185 C
- 19 NHL Games
- Lake Erie fans are already well acquainted with Ben Street, who scored 60 points in 58 games with the Monster's rival Abbotsford Heat. In the last two seasons Street has been called up for NHL action twice, registering 2 points in 19 games with the Calgary Flames. In a new organization Street will be fighting in camp for a top spot on the Lake Erie Monster's and for the rights to the first NHL call up.
- 6'0" 190 C
- 15 NHL Games (3 Playoff)
- Paul Carey has been a key contributor in Lake Erie for a number of seasons, and the speedy center got his first taste of the NHL last season playing in 12 regular season and 3 playoff games for the Avalanche. Carey failed to register a point in his first NHL stint and seemed to lose the faith of the coaching staff in the playoffs when he was benched in favor of Joey Hishon. Carey is a good skater and always looks good in the light-contact portions of camp; the key now is finding a way to translate that to real games.
- 5'11" 180 C
- 6 NHL Games
- Everything was looking up for Michael Sgarbossa after the Avalanche acquired him from the San Jose Sharks in a trade package. Sgarbossa responded immediately with a career best, and near OHL best 102 points in 66 games with the Sudbury Wolves. In his first pro season Sgarbossa solidified his status as a quality prospect scoring 44 points in 57 games with the Monsters and joining the Avalanche for his first taste of NHL action. Last season Sgarbossa showed up out of shape to training camp and struggle all year to regain his form. His production in Lake Erie was cut in half to just 20 points in 49 games. Sgarbossa has one year left on his contract.
- 5'10" 170 C
- 3 NHL Games (3 Playoff)
- A little backwards... but Hishon will tackle his first NHL Training Camp on the heels of his first 3 NHL games, first playoff games, and first point in the Avalanche's Game 7 loss. Hishon is likely looking at a top line role in Lake Erie with the possibility of an NHL call-up if a scoring forward goes down to injury.
Limited NHL Experience Defense:
- 6'3" 207 RD
- 100 NHL Games
- With exactly 100 NHL games I still don't feel I can include Nate Guenin on the "established players" list. Last year was the first time that Guenin has played more than 15 games in an NHL season, and while he faced a lot of minutes and difficult competition, he played at an AHL replacement level. Guenin was given a two-year contract extension but will likely be fighting for a spot on the NHL roster this year.
- 6'4" 210 LD
- 61 NHL Games
- After sitting as a healthy scratch for the first part of the season, Holden scored 25 points and 10 goals in 54 games with the Avalanche. His breakout season was a great feelgood story, but it's unlikely that he matches that pace moving forward, as it would amount to 15 goals and 38 points on an 82 game season. Regardless the budding young defenseman has serious potential and should grow into his defensive game. He signed a multi-year extension earlier this summer and should be a staple on the Avs' blueline this year.
- 6'1" 190 RD
- 58 Games
- After a bad camp and a slow start in Lake Erie Stegan Elliott salvaged an ok season with the Monsters, scoring 14 goals and 28 points in 61 games and earning a brief call-up at the end of the Avs' season. In his one game with the Avalanche, Elliott scored on his only shot. (You can probably expect that % to drop). After watching Barrie surpass him on the depth chart, Elliott will be fighting for a 3rd pairing or 1st callup spot on the roster. If he lands in Lake Erie again, expect him to play with his former Saskatoon Blades defensive partner, Duncan Siemens.
- 6'2" 205 RD
- 18 NHL Games
- A new addition to the Avalanche's defensive prospect pool, Redmond had an excellent growth trajectory with the Winnipeg Jets before suffering a horrific skate cut injury, which ended his season and slowed his development. Redmond has talent but lacks experience due to his development time lost, he'll look to prove his natural ability to the coaches and could challenge for one of the 8 NHL spots.
- 6'0" 194 RD
- 6 NHL Games
- From 2008-2011 Noreau put up a number of successful season with the Houston Aeros, including two 50 point seasons from the blue-line. Noreau played 6 games with the Minnesota Wild over two years but failed to register a point. It's tough to say where Noreau will fit on the depth chart, as he's spent the last three season playing for HC Abri-Piotta of the Swiss league.
- 5'11" 180 LD
- 2 NHL Games
- Stollery is a strong skater who plays important minutes on the blue-line for the Lake Erie Monsters. He had his first taste of NHL action last year and played a pair of games as an Avalanche forward. There are a number of new faces heading into camp this year, especially on the left side, and Stollery will be playing to maintain his spot on the Monster's depth chart.
Limited NHL Experience Goaltenders:
- 6'4" 210 L
- 31 NHL Games
- Reto Berra's Avalanche career had a tumultuous start to say the least. In his two games for Colorado Berra posted a .781 SV% and a 5.83 GAA. Before that Berra won 9 of 29 games with the Calgary Flames with a .897 SV% and 2.95 GAA. Berra was rewarded for that... "performance" with a three year contract to be Semyon Varlamov's backup. To be fair, Berra had something of a bizarre season last year, at time going weeks in the press box before starting games, but his performance was not exactly inspiring. This camp is Berra's opportunity to prove he's worth the contract after a summer of training, including working with Avalanche goalie coach Francois Allaire.
- 6'1" 185 L
- 2 NHL Games
- If Berra falters, here's your guy (well... one of them). Like Berra, Aittokallio has only played 2 games in an Avalanche uniform. In 2013 he cam within minutes of his first NHL win over the LA Kings, before leaving the game with a leg cramp and in 2014 he had a less impressive 18 save effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which saw him pulled after 2 periods of play. Sami has been a solid goaltender for the Lake Erie Monsters for a number of years and will continue to split time there with Calvin Pickard this season, unless, he can win the backup job from Reto Berra.
No NHL Experience? No Worries.
- 6'1" 200 C
- Many Avs fans questioned the front office when they selected Mitchell Heard 41st overall in 2012 and so far, the center hasn't done much to correct those doubts. It's difficult to tell what kind of player Heard wants to be, he was a point per game player in his last two OHL seasons, but his production hasn't translated to the AHL, where he's scored just 16 points in 86 games. Heard was originally lauded as a strong two-way forward with penalty killing ability and projected as a 3rd or 4th line forward, but he's drifted away from that game, trying to make his way up the depth chart with grit (167 penalty minutes last season). This is the last year of Heard's ELC, and without a strong performance in camp he could be on his way out he might not be tendered a QO.
- 5'10" 175 C
- Smith is entering his second professional season with the Lake Erie Monsters. After scoring 106 points in 72 games in his final WHL season, the diminutive forward struggled to translate his production to the professional level scoring just 34 points in 76 games with the Monsters. Smith has 2 seasons remaining on his ELC.
- 5'11" 180 C
- Did you read Colin Smith's profile? Well here it is again. Meurs was a less successful scorer than Smith in juniors (65 points in 68 games his final OHL season) and has had similar struggles scoring at the professional level (14 points in 64 AHL games). Meurs also has 2 seasons remaining on his ELC.
- 6'2" 205 LW
- The undrafted left winger played a checking role in his first AHL season. He scored just 3 goals and 8 points in his 46 games as a Monster, and collected 30 PIM on the season. Cheek struggled to get the puck in the net but could see a bounceback this season, since he only shot at 5.2% last year. Cheek has 2 years left on his ELC with the Avalanche.
- 5'10" 187 LW
- Another undrafted left winger, Agozzino was able to replicate the success of his rookie AHL season. Despite a glut of injuries to his supporting cast, Agozzino's total production dropped by just 3 points in 1 fewer game played. The picture of consistency, Agozzino shot 183 and 184 times in his two seasons. Agozzino has a small frame at 5'10" may find it challenging to get a shot at the NHL.
- 6'3" 205 LD
- The most important guy to watch on this list, Duncan Siemens had a challenging 2013-2014 season. After getting cut before playing a preseason game, Siemens' first Monsters season was underwhelming and filled with injuries. The former 1st round pick was limited to just 46 games. This year Siemens will try to establish himself at the top of the Monster's depth chart and hopefully, play his first NHL game(s) in a call-up role.
- 6'2" 196 LD
- The former 6th round pick scored 8 points in 65 games last season with the Monsters. While his offensive numbers are underwhelming, he has played big, physical defensive minutes for the Cutthroats and Monsters over his career thus far. Beaupre has 2 years left on his ELC with the Avalanche.
- 6'1" 205 LD
- The undrafted defenseman known as MOOSE matched his career high points in the AHL but was limited to just 39 games because of injury. Should Lauridsen every play with the Avs, he could be one of the first players to move from the Denver Cutthroats, to the Lake Erie Monsters, and onto the Avalanche.
- 6'1" 200 L
- Calvin Pickard is yet to see NHL action, but his numbers in the AHL have been considerably better than Aittokallio's. Pickard posted a .918 SV% in 2013 and followed it up with a .906 effort last season. Consider this a three horse race in the net.