It is starting to sound more and more like the Colorado Avalanche are not going to make 19-year olds Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard available to Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship. Though nothing has been confirmed.
Last night, the Denver Post reported that while no official decision has been made, Joe Sakic "doesn't anticipate” the two youngsters being released for the tournament - despite rumors to the contrary.
Of the two, Jost is the most likely to be released to Team Canada as he has had a very tough time settling into the NHL this season. He missed a few weeks with an injury, then spent some time in the AHL before returning to the Avalanche lineup.
Thought by some to be a candidate for the Calder Trophy this year, Jost has only two points through his first 12 games - one of which is an empty net goal.
Jost averages less than 14 minutes of ice time a game with the Avs. He has spent a bunch of time playing out of position and on the 4th line this season, and many think that going to the World Juniors would do wonders for his confidence and help to get his season on track.
He would slot in as a top-6 center and undisputed leader on Team Canada.
As for Girard, it would have seemed completely out of the question a couple weeks ago that the Avalanche would even consider letting him go. After being acquired by the Avs as the centerpiece of the Matt Duchene trade, Girard was thrust into a top role with the Avalanche. He was a mainstay in the team’s top-4 and playing more than 20 minutes a night.
Recently, however, Girard’s role has been pulled back some. Thanks to the return to health of Patrik Nemeth and Anton Lindholm, Girard’s ice time has dropped significantly. He is averaging less than 16 minutes over the team’s last five games and was on the ice for a season-low 9:18 Saturday night.
Colorado has been running with seven defensemen in the lineup recently, and if Girard ends up being the odd man out in terms of ice time, maybe three weeks with Team Canada isn’t out of the question anymore.
The Avalanche have had a hard time finding consistency with the lineup this season. They have far too many fringe players and it’s not allowing the youngsters like Jost, Girard, J.T. Compher, Alex Kerfoot, etc to find any normalcy in their season.
Colorado has only won two of their past eight games and sit in the basement of the Central Division. They’ve made huge improvements over the embarrassment of last season, but are still a long way from being a playoff threat.
You can see why fans are starting to get excited about the future.
Sam Girard and Tyson Jost are two huge parts of that future. They both have the potential to be foundation players for the Avalanche - they just aren’t far enough in their development to swing the pendulum for the team just yet.
Three weeks away from a last-place team, dominating with Team Canada, and getting to play with future teammate Cale Makar (and potentially Conor Timmins) might be the best thing for both Girard and Jost right now.
We still have two weeks before Team Canada finalizes their roster. If you believe the Denver Post, it sounds unlikely that we will see either of the Avalanche players at the tournament in Buffalo.
Of course, Joe Sakic might still change his mind. With another ten days of the youngsters seeing decreased ice time, it would be hard to believe he wouldn't see the advantage of letting both Girard and Jost go to the World Juniors.