Alexander Kerfoot and Dominic Toninato will be forever linked as they begin their professional careers with the Colorado Avalanche. Both play the center position were standouts in their four-year college careers and each served as captain in their senior year. They were both 2012 NHL entry draft picks and chose not to sign with the team that drafted them instead favoring the opportunity offered by Colorado. Kerfoot and Toninato signed within days of each other, which was pretty unexpected for a team who hadn't landed a college free agent in years. Both hope to make their NHL debuts this season and find a permanent spot in the Avalanche lineup.
While Kerfoot and Toninato are both expected to provide depth at the center position for the Avalanche, their games couldn't be more different. Kerfoot had an explosion of offense at Harvard scoring 16 goals and 45 points in 36 games and seems ready to carry that offensive confidence with him into pro hockey. He's quick and shifty with excellent vision and is around the puck at all times. Kerfoot really turned some heads during the Rookie Showcase in that he could not only keep up with top Avs prospects in Tyson Jost and JT Compher but was a key contributor to the offense scoring five points over the three-game tournament. He's going to have to show consistency and a good defensive game to stick in the NHL this season.
Watch Kerfoot dish the puck for a slick assist at the Rookie Showcase
Toninato's game has a lot of those defensive elements already ingrained. He is a lot less flashy and takes care of his own end first but certainly not ineffective. It's harder to see in camp practice and drills his defensive acumen and high hockey IQ but those aspects of his game showed up in the Rookie Showcase and at the Burgundy/White scrimmage. Toninato had a very successful college career at Minnesota-Duluth scoring 16 goals as well for 29 points in 42 games in his senior year and also taking home the NCHC award for top defensive forward. He will have to show that he can produce enough at the next level and finish some of the prime chances he creates to show he can be a useful defensive forward at the NHL level.
As far as possible NHL contributions this season, Toninato and Kerfoot will have to deal with the depth at forward the Avalanche acquired during the offseason but both have cited it was the opportunity for which the reason they chose to sign in Colorado. By their usage thus far in camp, it seems Kerfoot might even crack the opening night roster as long as he keeps getting chances with top skill players and is excelling in that role. Toninato might see some time in San Antonio but should be one of the top call up options as a center who can be trusted by the coaching staff to play well defensively and bring a gritty down low physical presence. It would be a mild shock if both did not see their NHL debut this season. At 23 years of age, their development curve is shorter and they will be ready to make NHL contributions if called on.