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.
A few of the Avalanche prospects received votes but didn't quite make the cut in the top 25, however they deserve to be highlighted here. One goalie, three defensemen and three forwards comprise the honorable mentions section in descending order of overall rank in this exercise. A strong season could move any one of them into the top 25 in next year's ranking.
Denis Smirnov - Right Wing - Penn State (NCAA)
Highest Rank: 18th
Denis Smirnov is a highly skilled left shot winger and although he is small in stature at 5'8 he was the highest scoring freshman in the NCAA for Penn State last season scoring 19 goals and 47 points and there's no signs of him slowing down for the upcoming season. A bit of strategy went into the selection of Smirnov at 156th overall in the 2017 NHL entry draft as it is possible he would have become a highly sought after college free agent if he continued on the same path and the Avalanche invested a pick to secure his rights ahead of the pack. One more strong year and Smirnov could be ready to make the jump to turn pro and sign a contract to begin playing professional hockey in the AHL the following season.
Mason Geertsen - Defenseman - San Antonio (AHL)
Highest Rank: 21st
A prospect that Avs fans have had their eye on for quite some time is the rugged left shot defenseman Mason Geertsen who was drafted 93rd overall in 2013. Just a physical beast in every sense, Geertsen uses the entirety of his 6'4 frame to wear the opponent down and will drop the gloves when needed. Geertsen is still trying to find his role in professional hockey as he's seen some inconsistent ice time and spent some time in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles but was a key part in their championship run. If Geertsen can find a consistent role in San Antonio and improve a bit on his production from four points in 36 games last season, he has a chance to move up the organizational depth chart.
Petr Kvaca - Goalie - Ceske Bedejovice (Czech2)
Highest Rank: 20th
The newest goalie added to the organization, Petr Kvaca was drafted at 114th overall in 2017 after a impressive year with a GAA 1.41 and save percentage of .940 playing in the Czech league for the second division club Ceske Bedejovice. Kvaca has currently received a promotion and is looking to earn a spot on the first division Sparta Praha team. The Avalanche seem to appreciate the strategy of drafting overager European goalies as they are already playing professional hockey and can continue to do so for several years before hopefully heading to North America and signing a NHL contract. Kvaca seems to be on that path and should become one of the candidates to join the pro system as an option behind Spencer Martin within the next year or two.
Travis Barron - Left Wing - Ottawa (OHL)
Highest Rank: 19th
An under the radar prospect because his statistics don't stand out, 13 goals and 34 points this season, doesn't give Travis Barron much notice but he does a lot of things well that don't show up on the scoresheet. He's the captain of a young Ottawa 67s team and not only is an emotional leader but sets the tone physically. Barron was drafted 191st overall in 2016 and is a 6'1 left shot winger with some power in his game and is pretty advanced defensively for his age. Therefore, it's not tough to see a an eventual role for Barron as a professional in the Avalanche system. One more year in the OHL could lead Barron to a contract and starting his pro career in the AHL the following season.
Nathan Clurman - Defenseman - Culver Academy (USHS)
Highest Rank: 22nd
Quite possibly one of the biggest unknowns in the Avalanche prospect pipeline is big 6'2 right shot defenseman from Boulder, Colorado. Drafted at 161st overall in 2016 out of Culver Military Academy, Clurman went back to the program to finish his high school diploma and has opted to put off playing for Notre Dame for a year to get some seasoning in the USHL with Tri-City. Clurman flashed a lot of tools at Avalanche development camp a year ago such as his strong skating, smarts and a nice shot to go along with his size. He might still be a few years out from professional hockey but Clurman might just pay big dividends if the Avs can remain patient.
Felix Girard - Center - San Antonio (AHL)
Highest Rank: 24th
The only player not drafted by the Avalanche on this list, Felix Girard was traded to Colorado in January of 2017 to Nashville for longtime Av, Cody McLeod. Girard is 5'11 196 lb right shot center drafted at 95th overall by the Predators in 2013. He has enjoyed a solid minor league career mostly for the Milwaukee Admirals scoring 58 points in 210 games but has never seen a game of NHL action. Gerard's reunion with head coach Eric Veilleux from his former QMJHL days in Baie-Comeau seemed to spark him as he scored 20 points in 38 games as a member of the San Antonio Rampage and gave some life to a listless Rampage squad. It's expected that Girard takes on one of the top defensive center roles and if he keeps producing might get a look in Colorado at some point during the season.
Josh Anderson - Defenseman - Prince George (WHL)
Highest Rank: 24th
One prospect that knows his game and doesn't stray from it is giant 6'2, 220 lb left shot defenseman Josh Anderson. Selected at 71st overall in 2016, Anderson is a defensive defenseman to the core. Scoring isn't his game but he chipped in three goals and 11 points in a healthy season after dealing with a back injury in his draft year. The Avalanche seem to like the big steady physical defenseman type who will drop the gloves on occasion and Anderson has those characteristics plus the mobility and defensive acumen to be looking for a pro contract after this upcoming season. Anderson has already joined San Antonio once, at the end of last season when Prince George was eliminated from the playoffs, but he did not get in any games but gained a valuable experience practicing at the pro level.