When the Colorado Avalanche traded Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators, most people focused on Samuel Girard and the first round pick as the keys to the return - with good reason. Though those two were key assets in the trade, we shouldn’t forget about Vladislav Kamenev.
Kamenev was the other main piece given up by the Predators in the three-team deal that saw Kyle Turris end up in Nashville. He was the top forward prospect in the Predators’ system, and many believed that he was NHL ready - including the Avalanche.
The second the team returned from their trip to Sweden, Kamenev was called up from the AHL. The young Russian was averaging a point per game through his first four games with the Rampage and was clearly ready to step into the Avalanche lineup.
He got into his first game with the Avs (3rd NHL game total), played 8 shifts, just over 4 minutes of ice time and then took a big hit from Brooks Orpik that completely derailed his season.
Kamenev has now been out of the lineup for exactly 8 weeks. He has missed 24 games.
At the time of the injury, the team simply said that the 21-year old was “out indefinitely”. In a league that has become more and more secretive about injuries, it’s not surprising that the Avalanche didn’t give more of a timeline for Kamenev’s recovery.
He has been skating on his own for a while now - not surprising, given that it is an arm injury and skating - even without a puck - is the best way to keep your legs as close to game shape as possible.
Given the timeline for recovery from similar injuries, Kamenev should be expected to be cleared for game action in the not too distant future. In fact, don’t be at all surprised if he is at practice when the team returns from their off-week.
Being sidelined for two months is going to take a toll on any pro athlete so it’s very likely that Kamenev will be sent to San Antonio for a rehab stint before we see him back in an NHL game. A week or two to get back into game shape will do him wonders, but it won’t be long before we see him back with the Avs.
Even though the team has been playing very well lately, the addition of a player as talented as Kamenev can only help.
When he was called up after the trade, Kamenev was expected to slot into a middle-6 center role and that’s where we are likely to see him upon his return. My guess is that we see both Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher eventually move back to the wing while Kamenev plays down the middle with MacKinnon, Kerfoot and Soderberg.
Kamenev brings something to the team that they don’t get from either Compher or Kerfoot. He is a very responsible two-way player that matches up defensively against NHL centers better than the other two. The numbers show that Kerfoot (44.99 CF%) and Compher (47.07 CF%) have not been very good from a possession standpoint so Kamenev’s two-way play at center should enhance the lineup significantly.
He’ll be back very soon and the addition of Kamenev will be the type of internal boost that all teams are looking for - especially ones that are on the playoff bubble, the way the Avalanche are right now.