As the hockey world takes a break for the holidays, now is an excellent time to take a look at how the various prospects for the Colorado Avalanche have fared in the first half of their seasons. While not an exhaustive list, most have either a news update or a note on their role and situations to share.
Jean-Christophe Beaudin - C
As the top center on a strong Rouyn-Noranda Huskies team, currently 9th in the BMO CHL rankings, JC Beaudin has taken on the added responsibility of carrying the offense at times with less fire power around him. Picking up where he left off last season, Beaudin currently sits in 14th place in league scoring with 41 points in 31 games. Following a two-game appearance in the Canada-Russia series and scoring a goal in the sixth game of the series which earned him player of the game honors, Beaudin went on to register eight points over a weekend set of two games which earned him second star of the week in the QMJHL for November 16-20th.
Beaudin always displays his smart defensive ability, is one of the main penalty killers on the team and has produced four shorthanded goals including one on the double disadvantage. Beaudin uses his strong hockey sense with keen vision in setting up plays. He is a very creative playmaker and uses a lot of touch passes and timing plays. Beaudin has focused on goal scoring more this season. His shot is harder and accurate as he’s been able to combine that aspect of his game with his speed to become an even more dangerous threat, as he is able to pick corners and surprise goalies. Beaudin is also one of the best in the league at faceoffs at 60 percent. Beaudin is a very smart and well-rounded player and he’s a key component of a team which should go for another deep playoff run.
Nicolas Meloche - D
An eventful beginning of the season for Nicolas Meloche of the Gatineau Olympiques. After returning from Avalanche camp, Meloche embarked on a seven game long road trip where he fell ill and then sustained a mild shoulder injury from a vicious high hit. Upon returning from injury, Meloche was suspended for two games for a cross-check. Once all that action settled down Meloche began to play his best hockey registering 17 points in 17 games including five goals.
While Meloche is known for his tenacious physical presence, it is his offensive game that has taken the biggest steps this season. Meloche has always been able to get his share of goals with his strong shot but he is finding lanes and getting his wrist shot through, particularly on the power play and is top 10 in the league in goal scoring from defensemen. Meloche’s puck moving ability is what has been most notable this season as he’s been tasked with starting the breakout in Gatineau and is the main puck mover on defense. Meloche has good, accurate passing skills and is excellent at rushing the puck into the offensive zone. Defensively he uses his large reach, excellent positioning and uses his stick very well to disrupt the play in addition to his hardnosed physical game. Meloche also participated in both games in the Canada-Russia series in Quebec and registered an assist.
Once again Meloche finds a new home at the holiday break because his previous team is facing the beginning of a rebuild and needed to sell off valuable assets. This time Meloche will play for the Charlottetown Islanders in the Martimes division of the QMJHL. The Islanders are currently sitting at 5th in the league and are not quite a contender but having a strong season and are loading up to force themselves into the conversation. They are a strong offensive team with a lot of weapons including the impending return of Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong and one of the league’s leading scorers in Ottawa Senators prospect Filip Chlapik. A change of scenery was much needed for Meloche and he has an opportunity to go on a long playoff run with Charlottetown. The concern is how Meloche will be used on his new team as it would be unfortunate if he was forced into a more shutdown defensive role with reduced offensive minutes at the detriment of continuing the development he’s seen in his offensive game. Meloche will debut with Charlottetown on December 28th against Halifax.
Travis Barron – LW/C
Just like the Ottawa 67s, Travis Barron has experienced some ups and downs this season. Named captain in mid-October, Barron took the role to heart displaying great leadership and there is so much more of a presence about him when he’s on the ice. Barron has also taken on a couple league heavyweights in defense of his teammates. One of those fights likely lead to Barron missing five games due to an undisclosed upper body injury. Barron’s offensive game has improved as well as he finishes the first half of the season with 20 points in 28 games including five points in his last six games.
Barron’s shot is not his strength but lately has figured out the more power game part of his game and recently scored two beautiful goals pulling those sorts of moves. Although results are still a bit inconsistent, he’s getting more confident in the offensive zone and taking the puck to the net with authority. One aspect of Barron’s game that is very underrated is how defensively sound he is. Barron is just a monster on the forecheck and in creating turnovers and can dish out a big hit. He’s good positionally, reads the play well and is a key component of the penalty kill. One other tool in Barron’s bag of tricks is how he has adapted since he moved to the center position following an injury to one of the team’s top centers. He has looked very comfortable at the position and the open ice has allowed him a bit more room offensively plus Barron has done very well at faceoffs with winning over 60% of them.
Josh Anderson - D
Josh Anderson is part of a surprising yet strong contending team in the Prince George Cougars, who are ranked 6th in the BMO CHL rankings. Anderson’s meat and potatoes game certainly comes as advertised as he plays his primarily stay at home defensive game and has contributed five assists on the year, however four of those assists have come in the month of December. Anderson job isn’t primarily to be the puck mover but chips in when necessary and uses his heavy slap shot when he gets a chance. He’s used mostly in a top 4 defensive role with penalty kill and occasional power play time. Anderson has enjoyed a mostly healthy season thus far and showing a bit more speed and willingness to jump into the play as the season has progressed. Anderson always brings the physical game along the boards and works to protect the front of the net.
Tyson Jost - C
Freshman status playing for the defending champion and current 8th ranked University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux didn’t stop Tyson Jost from filling into the top center positon. An even greater responsibility has been placed on Jost as star Sophomore Vancouver Canucks prospect Brock Boeser has been in and out of the lineup dealing with a wrist injury. Jost proved he was up to the task by scoring 18 points in 17 games including seven goals. Jost brings his smart tenacious game to the college level as he’s a hound on the puck and along the boards. Where he is at his best is around the net with his smooth hands and quick release is always a threat to score goals multiple ways. Jost also shows well defensively in his positioning and willingness to get his nose dirty. Like any young player, Jost could stand to be a bit stronger on the puck, especially in open ice. Jost is also one of the top faceoff players in the NCHC conference, winning over 60% of his draws.
Jost will take a break from the NCAA to join Canada’s national World Junior Championship team. He’s expected to fill a top six role on the left wing and be a key contributor in all areas. In the opening pretournament game against Finland, Jost scored two goals in the first period and was named best player of the game. Following that performance, he scored a goal and an assist the Canada’s second pretournament game against the Czech Republic setting the stage for what seems to be a big tournament forthcoming for Jost. The tournament officially begins for Canada on December 26th against Russia.
Cam Morrison - LW
Freshman season has gone well for Cam Morrison as he settles into the college game and on 12th ranked University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Morrison has bounced around on a few lines but has generally been put in offensive situations and on the power play. He has scored 10 points in 17 games. Morrison is used as a net front presence and has a good knack for transitioning with pucks to make plays. He seems to be used a little bit at everything and no doubt will see his role increase as he gains more experience.
Will Butcher - D
Captain of the nation’s 2nd ranked team in the University of Denver Pioneers, senior Will Butcher is a very important piece to this contending team as their offensive backbone from the blueline. He has scored 17 points in 18 games and is tied for the team lead in scoring. Butcher still has a slight frame and not the fleetest of foot but he hasn’t let these things hinder him at the NCAA level as he is a smart puck mover and can chip in a bit of goal scoring.
Ben Storm - LW
Co-captain of the 18th ranked St-Cloud State University Huskies, Ben Storm has fully transitioned to forward. He plays a safe dependable game generally on the fourth line but uses his size well to impose on the opponent. Storm doesn’t bring much offense as he has scored two points in 15 games but is a key leader for the young Huskies squad.
Nate Clurman - D
Although Culver Academy makes it impossible to find statistics from their prep hockey team, I was able to watch a stream of one of Nate Clurman’s games from November against Detroit Catholic Central. He pretty much brings what he showed in Avalanche development camp, which is a big, mobile, two-way defenseman with all the tools. Clurman is pretty physical especially along the boards and can move the puck well. He used his strong shot on a goal scored from the point. Moving up the levels of hockey and making plays with the puck at speed will be his biggest challenges but there’s no reason to believe Clurman won’t develop all the tools he has.
Andrei Mironov - D
Another player who has seen an eventful first half is Andrei Mironov. He missed the first month of the season in the KHL for Dynamo Moscow with an injury. Upon his return scored four points in 11 games and was named captain after their existing captain suffered a long-term injury. Mironov was then named to and captained the Russian national team in the Karjala Cup tournament and he was also named the best defensemen in the tournament. Unfortunately, Mironov suffered a wrist injury in the final game of the tournament, underwent surgery and is expected not to return until at least February.
Adam Werner - G
Since moving up to the starting role for Bjrorkloven in the Swedish Allsvenskan league, Adam Werner has registered nine wins with a 2.66 GAA and .901 SV%. Werner was also named to the Swedish World Junior Championship team and is expected to hold the position of third goalie on the team. Sweden begins their tournament on December 26th against Demark.
Special thanks to Nathan Chapman for help with this piece.