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Colorado Avalanche prospect report: Season Preview

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Here’s what the North American prospects will be up to this season

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds v Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

Hello Mile High Hockey readers! I am the man known as elseldo, and I am bringing my weekly North American prospect report to a third SB Nation site. It started over at Pension Plan Puppets, then moved to Raw Charge.

Now, I’m here. Each week I’ll give a brief update on the various prospects the Avalanche have that are playing in the junior leagues and NCAA.

This week I’ll give a little season preview for them, as the seasons haven’t properly started yet.


Ontario Hockey League

Conor Timmins (D)
Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
2016/17 Stats: 60GP - 7G - 54A - 61Pts
Acquired: 2017 draft, 32nd overall
How to watch: OHL Live, Sportsnet, Public Access TV (Home/Away teams only)

Conor Timmins was a highly touted defensive prospect coming into the draft, and the Avalanche were lucky enough to draft him in the second round. This season, he’ll be with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - who are looking to finally overtake the London Knights and Erie Otters as one of the top teams in the OHL West playoffs, teams that have been keeping a very well run organization out of the championship picture.

Timmins will be playing a top 2 role with the ‘Hounds this year and in his first pre-season game with the Soo (a 4-3 loss to the Saginaw Spirit) Timmins assisted on the first goal of the game, scored by Morgan Frost.

Travis Barron (F)
Team: Ottawa 67’s
2016/17 Stats: 59GP - 13G - 21A - 34Pts
Acquired: 2016 draft, 191st overall
How to watch: OHL Live, Sportsnet, Public Access TV (Home/Away teams only)

A late round pick who didn’t score at a D+1 rate that we’d like to see, Barron will be captaining the Ottawa 67’s again this season and will try to turn the once great OHL franchise back to respectability.

He has the all around game to be a quality player, but needs to work on his offensive output. 34 points for a forward isn’t where you want a prospect - even a 7th round pick - to be this far after the draft.


Western Hockey League

Nick Henry (F)
Team: Regina Pats
2016/17 Stats: 72GP - 35G - 46A - 81Pts
Acquired: 2017 draft, 94th overall
How to watch: WHL Live, Sportsnet

A high scoring forward who was so close to a WHL championship last season will get another shot at glory with the Regina Pats this season, as they host the 100th anniversary of the Memorial Cup tournament - the national championship of major junior hockey.

The Pats get automatic entry to the tournament, but no team wants to limp their way in. They lost the WHL championship by one game to the Seattle Thunderbirds last year, and the Pats are looking to show they’re the real deal this year.

Josh Anderson (D)
Team: Prince George Cougars
2016/17 Stats: 69GP - 3G - 8A - 11Pts
Acquired: 2016 draft, 71st overall
How to watch: WHL Live, Sportsnet

Anderson has been called a solid defensive defenseman by Future Considerations, and it shows in his points totals. Physically high above his draft class, he’s a full grown hockey player who now needs to grow his game on the ice outside of his own zone.

The Cougars finished at the top of the BC Division of the WHL last year, but were eliminated in the first round by the Portland Winterhawks. However, the majority of that same team will be back on the ice this year, so a repeat in winning the division isn’t off the table.


Junior A

Nick Leivermann (D)
Team: Penticton Vees, BCHL
2016/17 Stats: 48GP - 16G - 35A - 51Pts
Acquired: 2017 draft, 157th overall
How to watch: HockeyTV.com

Leivermann is committed to play for Notre Dame in the 18/19 season and he’s left Minnesota high school to play in the BCHL, which is one level below the CHL leagues (OHL, WHL, QMJHL) and seen as one of the top leagues to play in while keeping your NCAA eligibility.

A PPG+ player last season, he’ll do well in college if he can keep his scoring growing at the pace it is, while still being defensively reliable.


USHL

Nathan Clurman (D)
Team: Tri-City Storm
2016/17 Stats: 38GP - 8G - 24A - 32Pts
Acquired: 2016 draft, 161st overall
How to watch: HockeyTV.com

The second 18/19 Notre Dame commit on this list (is there a ND alum in the scouting staff?), Clurman will play his first full season in the USHL next season after leaving high school.

Hopefully, Clurman can give the Storm a boost, as they finished last in the USHL Western Conference last season.


NCAA

Cale Makar (D)
Team: UMass Minutemen
2016/17 Stats: 54GP - 24G - 51A - 75Pts
Acquired: 2017 draft, 4th overall
How to watch: Check Hockey East website

Entering his freshman year in the NCAA, the 4th overall pick in the 2017 draft has a lot of expectations on his shoulders. Massachusetts was dead last in Hockey East last season, with just two wins in conference play, mirroring his draft team’s rank in the NHL.

Makar’s play will dictate whether he gets wooed by the Avalanche to leave school early. When watching him and tracking his stats, it’s always helpful to remember to keep expectations low on a first year NCAA player.

Denis Smirnov (F)
Team: Penn State Nittany Lions
2016/17 Stats: 39GP - 19G - 28A - 47Pts
Acquired: 2017 draft, 156th overall
How to watch: Lion Vision, Big Ten Network

Smirnov is entering his sophomore season - and after a gangbusters freshman season with Penn State, he’ll be looking to build up more ice time, and a bigger role on the Lions.

Penn State won half of their games last season, so they’ll try to climb to the top of Big10 rankings this season and try to make a run for an NCAA title.

Cameron Morrison (F)
Team: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2016/17 Stats: 40GP - 12G - 12A - 24Pts
Acquired: 2016 draft, 40th overall
How to watch: Check Hockey East website

Notre Dame was fourth in Hockey East last season, just one point out of the three way tie for first. It’s a close conference and big sophomore season from Morrison could help get them ahead of that dog pile.

As well, he’ll need to up his leadership skills since there are two more Avalanche prospects joining him next season (is the owner an alum? What’s going on?)


The NCAA doesn’t kick off pre-season games for a few more weeks, and the CHL teams start play in two weeks themselves.

USHL and BCHL are underway, so perhaps we’ll have mini-updates for them until the rest of the players get going.

If there’s anything you’d like to see in these updates - video, interviews, Q&A - let me know. Until next time, see you around the mountain.