Twenty-Eight Colorado Avalanche rookies hit the ice at Family Sports Center on 10am on September 8th for what will be known as Rookie Camp before they head to San Jose for tournament games against the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks. The roster breaks down to 15 forwards, 10 defensemen and 3 goalies, who should all see action at some point in the three game Rookie Showcase. Heading into camp and taking a longer term look, here is where each of the rookies are situated in the current stage of their careers and within the Avalanche organization.
Camp should be very competitive as there are quite a few prospects at rookie camp who could conceivably win a job on the NHL roster or place themselves on top of the ladder for an early call up with a good showing. Forwards Tyson Jost and JT Compher are already penciled into the Avalanche lineup with strong showing at the end of the season last year in Colorado and will be counted on to execute the youth movement. AJ Greer plus newly signed college free agent forwards Dominic Toninato and Alexander Kerfoot should see NHL action this season even if they don't make the opening night roster.
Defensemen Anton Lindholm and Chris Bigras hope to return to Colorado lineup sooner than later as both have a chance to solidify a spot on the opening night roster. Veteran depth has been moved out by management and a clear path to the NHL is open to both players if they earn their spot. Andrei Mironov is all but assured a spot as well. Spencer Martin will serve as the third goaltender in the organization and likely will receive time in the NHL as needed.
Depth in Minors
Beginning their pro careers, forward JC Beaudin and defenseman Nicolas Meloche will be of high interest to many in attendance at rookie camp. Both finished out highly successful junior careers in the QMJHL and are ready to take the next step in their careers. The transition from junior to professional hockey is a big step but both of these players are some of the best and most anticipated to come through the system with their talent level and skill sets. Hopefully a good camp and preseason leads to a great season for both and they can see some action in Colorado by the end of the season.
Returning pro prospects defenseman Sergei Boikov and forward Julien Nantel are both looking to have strong camps as they jockey for call up position. They both spent most of last season in the AHL with San Antonio but were sent to the ECHL at season's end so they could get playoff experience and played a pivotal role which helped the Colorado Eagles capture the Kelly Cup. With a year of pro experience already under their belt they could sneak up to Colorado for a game or two this season with the possibility for more.
A small group of Avalanche property but without contract and likely ticketed back to junior include forward Travis Barron as well as defensemen Conor Timmins and Josh Anderson. All three are looking to sign their entry level contract by this summer and look to make the jump to pro hockey next season. It's expected they see a game or two of preseason action but likely will be back to their junior clubs for the CHL season start on September 21st.
Attending the camp from Europe are forward Gustav Olhaver and goalie Petr Kvaca as they are missing the preparations for the start of their seasons overseas and should head back in short order. Kvaca is someone to keep an eye on to sign a contract in the next year or so as the pipeline will need another goalie in the system sooner than later. Olhaver had a productive season in Sweden last year and can hopefully build on that moving forward.
There's quite a bunch of invites at this rookie camp, ten to be exact. A few already have their future relatively set with contracts in hand to the San Antonio Rampage such as forwards Shawn St-Amant and Brady Shaw. Another is already contracted to the Colorado Eagles in defenseman Gage Ausmus. Several others could walk away with contracts such as former Avalanche draft pick Ben Storm, who has been around the other prospects training all summer. Forward Hugo Roy is eligible to join the AHL and possibly follow in the footsteps of St-Amant to go from camp invite to AHL contract in his 20-year-old season.
The rest of the group will likely just look to take away the experience but it is always possible one could walk away with an entry level contract. Those to keep an eye on are forward Ty Lewis and defenseman Thomas Gregoire, who are perhaps the biggest dark horses to leave camp with a contract in hand. Forward Sami Moilanen, defenseman Nolan De Jong and goalie Francis Leclerc round out the group of invites.
Missing are those NCAA prospects who are not allowed to attend such as forwards Cam Morrison and Denis Smirnov plus defensemen Cale Makar, Nicky Leivermann and Nate Clurman. Prospects who have already started their seasons in Europe or will shortly have opted to stay home in forward Igor Shvyryov and goalie Adam Werner.
Catch the games against the Sharks on September 9th and Coyotes on September 11th as they are expected to be live streamed on their respective team websites, more info on that forthcoming. Main camp will begin on September 15th as the Avalanche typically invite all the rookies to join the group of NHL veterans back at Family Sports Center.