With the season over, the Colorado Avalanche returned forwards Joey Hishon and Freddie Hamilton and defenseman Duncan Siemens to the Lake Erie Monsters so that they could play out the rest of the AHL season. The Monsters have 4 games remaining, beginning with a must win contest against the Adirondack Flames tonight in Adirondack. It's unknown whether or not the three returnees will make it in time for the 7:00 Eastern game. After that the Monsters play three games in three nights. Thursday they return home against the Grand Rapids Griffins and follow it up with a home and home with the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday and Saturday.
The Monster's currently sit 12th in the AHL's Western Conference with 76 points. The Chicago Wolves and Toronto Marlies hold the final two playoff spots in the West with 83 and 81 points respectively With 4 games remaining, making the playoffs will be a tall order for the Monsters, but they could make a push if they win out in their final 4 games. The additions of Hishon and Hamilton should be a major boon to the Monster's paper thin group of forwards and Duncan Siemens should retake his role on the team's second pairing, but the real key to the Monster's final 4 games will be the continued strong play of goaltender Calvin Pickard.
As for the three players' NHL careers, all three made good to decent cases for their futures in the Avalanche organization. Here's a look at their performances this season.
Hishon had an impressive second stint with the Colorado Avalanche in the team's bottom six. The former first rounder generated possession and shots on goal better than anyone else on the Avs' bottom six all while showing impressive growth in his defensive game. Hishon slowly gained more and more trust from the Avalanche coaching staff eventually playing 12+ minutes a night, earning some defensive zone starts, and even playing on the team's second power play unit. Hishon's 2 points were not indicative of his strong play over the 13 game stretch. Hishon could have easily scored another 2-3 goals and 4-5 assists with more support from his linemates (Jordan Caron, Marc Andre Cliche, and Freddie Hamilton aren't exactly finishers, no matter how well they were set up). Hishon scored his first NHL goal, the game winner, against the Nashville Predators in game 80.
Freddie Hamilton had a strong showing in his first few games with the Avalanche, but his performance waned a bit and he saw decreased ice time in the final handful of games. Even if Hamilton didn't contribute much offensively he was never a problem for the Avalanche in his single digit minutes per night. He finished the season with more shots that Jordan Caron despite less ice time and worse linemates and looks like a solid depth addition for the Avalanche in return for the expiring Karl Stollery contract. Hamilton scored his first NHL goal, a deflection, against the Arizona Coyotes on March 19th.
What can you say about a one game tryout. Siemens had some flashes of good and some flashes of bad, but a one game tryout isn't enough to say anything about the Avalanche prospect or his future in the organization. The best part of Siemens' call-up is that a hard working, good guy got to live his dream and finally play his first game in the NHL. Siemens finished last night's game with a blank stat sheet and 14:00 in ice time.