The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey writing staff. Our writers, plus a special vote from the readers, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
Compher was originally drafted 35th overall by the Buffalo Sabres and was acquired by the Avs as part of the Ryan O'Reilly trade. It's still far too soon to say who won that trade, but Compher is definitely pushing the needle in the right direction. When he joined the Avs prospect pool he had already finished 2 years of college at University of Michigan posting numbers just shy of a point per game. In his 3rd year (2015-16), he was given the Captaincy and his game absolutely took off. He posted 63 points in 38 games and was a Hobey Baker finalist. After the incredible year he was quickly signed by the Avs that off-season and he began his professional career this past season with the Rampage.
At 6'0 193 lbs, his size is fairly average if even a touch on the small side, but his play is that of someone much bigger. He is strong on his skates and always willing to go to the dirty areas where he is quite effective at initiating and winning puck battles.
What set Compher apart at the AHL level was his IQ; he was able to think the game on a higher level and at a faster pace than most of the guys out on the ice. This opened avenues for him as he was easily able to adapt to any of the 3 forward positions and would make whichever teammates he was put with better than they were without him. His awareness always had him in the right spot to make the play whether it be getting open for a shot or finding a pass to his line mate on the rush. His talent was quickly noticed and he received his call up at the trade deadline and spent the last quarter of the season with the Avs.
At the NHL level, he showed flashes of a player who can carry his line-mates but he wasn't quite there yet. His skills showed plenty of promise and his shot jumped out immediately as he had no trouble getting some good mustard behind it, but maybe more impressive was his 2-way game. His defensive ability was much better than expected for a 1st year pro and his teammates often relied on him to be the responsible forward. With two years left on his ELC, Compher is a virtual lock to make the team in the 2017-18 season and can be expected to play a middle 6 role at RW and C. Going forward his potential may be as high as a permanent 2nd line forward and at the very least he has set himself up to be an extremely well rounded staple of the Avs 3rd line for the years to come.