When training camp began, if you asked Colorado Avalanche fans which rookie would have the biggest impact on the team this season, I doubt any would say, Alexander Kerfoot. Everyone was excited about Tyson Jost, many couldn’t wait to see what J.T. Compher could bring to an NHL lineup, and others spent the summer touting Andrei Mironov - for some reason.
Alex Kerfoot was a bit of an afterthought. An NCAA free agent that might spend some time in the AHL and would be a bonus if he could make any sort of impact in the NHL this season. What a surprise he’s been.
Now, it looks like the Avalanche are set to unite the three former NCAA stars to form an all-rookie line to play behind the big-3 - once Gabriel Landeskog gets back in the lineup.
At first glance, the line of Compher, Jost and Kerfoot might seem odd as all three are natural centers. Luckily, these three players have among the highest hockey IQ on the team and have shown an ability to play any of the three forward positions.
So far this season, Compher has been decent. Tyson Jost has had a disappointing so far. But Kerfoot? He’s been better than advertised.
The rookie from Harvard already has 7 goals at 15 points through his first 22 NHL games. Good enough to be tied for 7th among all rookies. From an offensive standpoint, he is putting up the point totals many expected Jost would be getting. Despite the impressive point total, Kerfoot is actually struggling a little from an offensive standpoint. He has the lowest scoring chances per 60 minutes of any forward on the team, despite being deployed in a more offensive role (54% oZs).
In fact, this line could struggle a lot from an offensive perspective, despite the talent all three players possess. Kerfoot, Jost, and Compher are all near the bottom of the team when it comes to CF/60 - only Gabriel Bourque and A.J. Greer have been worse this season. Add that to the fact that Tyson Jost still hasn’t scored on an NHL goalie this season (his only goal came on an empty net) and this is line that could be hard-pressed to create offense
That said, maybe putting the three talented forwards together could spark something. We know Compher and Jost can be great together - they proved it at the rookie camp this past summer. Then again, maybe Bednar has these three playing together in order to create a line that he knows will be defensively responsible all the way around.
Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher have both been used by the coaches to play a big role on the penalty kill. Each playing more than two minutes per game shorthanded, it shows that Bednar isn’t afraid to use them for their defensive play.
On top of that, Alex Kerfoot leads all Avalanche forwards in 5v5 CA/60. He’s been the Avs best forward when it comes to shutting down the opposition at even strength and putting him with two smart players like Jost and Compher will only add to that.
When trying to put together new lines - especially while trying to fit a bunch of rookies into the lineup - finding instant chemistry is key. Jost, Compher, and Kerfoot are roommates in Denver, they’ve been good friends off the ice. This might not necessarily translate to on-ice chemistry - but it can’t hurt.
We’ll see how things go. Jost still needs to work his way back into the NHL lineup after a long absence, so we don’t know how long this line will actually last. What we do know is that each of the three players involved has a ton of talent and it looks like the team is ready to start leaning on them going forward.