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Avs Prospect Development Goes Beyond Hockey

The Avs might have stumbled into some off-ice chemistry when they drafted Denis Smirnov

Russia v USA - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images

The Avs have a tendency to pick out the “character guys”, often to their own detriment, but sometimes they hit gold. At least for a moment, they hit it big time with Denis Smirnov and Andrei Mironov during the exit interviews from this week’s development camp.

The diminutive Smirnov impressed Avs fans on draft day with his point totals from his rookie year at Penn State. When he got to camp, his infectious smile and “just glad to be here” attitude after being passed over his first two times through the draft further bolstered our opinions.

Andrei Mironov has been a deep mystery since being taken in the 4th round back in 2015. He was in the KHL and little indicated we would ever see him in North America, much less in an Avs uniform. The opportunity opened up this Spring and we got our first real glimpse of the powerful Russian defenseman at World Championships. What we hadn’t seen yet was an interview and earlier this week Ron Knabenbauer got one from the draft in Chicago with Miro’s agent translating.

It’s a little formal and antiseptic but any one of us native English-speakers that have traveled to places where it is unknown can relate to the same challenge. Probably not while being recorded for a worldwide accessible video feed tho’. Although the Avs have a fair amount of Russians in the org, none happened to be around this week. No Big Z, Boikov or Varly and our good friend Mikhail Grigorenko is... gone.

Considering Smirnov was drafted less than 48 hours before camp began there’s no way the Avs could have planned it but he turned out to be Miro’s translator when necessary. It provided a great example of players coming together as teammates off the ice while being competitors on the ice. Director of Development David Oliver made the point that the focus of this camp is getting the youngsters ready to turn professional when the time comes but a major side effect that most of these guys mention is coming together as teammates. This was a fantastic example of that in action.