When Tyson Jost signed his entry-level contract and left the University of North Dakota last spring, it was expected that he would be spending this season with the Colorado Avalanche, contending for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year.
Things haven’t gone according to plan.
After battling a lower-body injury through rookie camp, Jost seemed to be unable to get completely comfortable with his game from the get-go. He looked outstanding at times during training camp and the preseason, but for every positive, there would be a setback. Like any other rookie, consistency looked like it was going to be the biggest problem for Jost this season.
Thanks to the unforeseen emergence of Alex Kerfoot in training camp, the coaching staff had a hard time finding a stable role for Jost. Early in the season, he was playing both wing and center - mostly in the Avs bottom-6. He had two points through six games and was averaging about 13 and a half minutes per game. Jost also found himself playing a big role on the penalty kill.
Then came a dirty hit from Adam McQuaid that completely derailed Jost’s rookie season.
Jost hurt his knee on the play and hasn’t played a whole lot since.
He sat out the next dozen games for the Avalanche and once the knee was ready for game action, Jost was sent to the San Antonio Rampage. He has a single assist through his first three games as he works his way back into game shape in the AHL.
However, if you pay attention to Avs head coach Jared Bednar, this is more than a rehab assignment in San Antonio. The Avalanche want Jost to play a big role with the Rampage. They will have him log big minutes and play a more offensive role than he would be able to in the NHL. They need Jost to find his offensive game and get back to being the dominant two-way center he was in the NCAA.
If that’s the goal, the Avalanche might be smart to pull Jost away from the AHL and have him spend three weeks leading Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship next month.
“If Tyson Jost is on this team, he will be the captain. If he’s on Team Canada, that is a significant, significant addition - on the ice and for what he brings in the leadership category” - Craig Button
Team Canada usually doesn’t take players to the World Juniors that weren’t at their summer development camp but Jost is an exception. He has been a member of Hockey Canada’s development system for years, acting as the captain of the U18 team.
Tyson Jost with Team Canada
Jost would be welcomed with open arms as he would be Canada's best player and a key member of the leadership group. Jost would almost certainly play on both the top powerplay and penalty kill units as well as fill the role of Canada’s top line center.
This would likely be just what the doctor ordered. Playing on a line with high-end offensive guys like Jordan Kyrou and Tyler Steenbergen is a good way to spark Jost’s play with the puck.
Not only that, playing with team Canada give Jost the chance to play with future Avalanche teammate Cale Makar - who will be expected to play a major role on the blue line.
It’s rare for players in Jost’s position to be sent back to the World Juniors. The only recent example is when the Canucks released Jake Virtanen to Team Canada during his rookie season in 2015-16. It might be in the best interest of both the team and player for the Avs to follow the same pattern with JOst this year.
If the Avalanche plan to keep Jost away from the NHL for the foreseeable future, sending him back to the World Juniors is likely the best course of action.