The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eight writers and 320 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2018 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
It was an eventful period in 2017-18 for Vladislav Kamenev as the former 42nd overall pick in the 2014 draft began his third professional season with the Nashville Predators organization for the AHL Milwaukee Admirals. His stay lasted ten games there before inclusion in the three-way Matt Duchene trade. Kamenev was part of the Avalanche’s return from Nashville in their acquisition of Kyle Turris and thus he was headed to Colorado. The Avalanche were more than eager to play him in the NHL but were in Sweden for the NHL Global Series immediately following the trade and Kamenev’s Avalanche debut had to wait until the team returned. In his first game in Colorado he took a hard hit from future Avalanche defenseman for a second Brooks Orpik which severely broke Kamenev’s arm and he was sidelined for four months while recovering from the serious injury.
Kamenev had enjoyed a very productive AHL career up until the trade and subsequent injury as he was poised to get a serious look at the NHL level. He had played 137 games in the AHL with Milwaukee and scored 96 total points including 51 points in the 2016-17 season, good for second on the team in scoring. That performance earned Kamenev a two game call-up to Nashville that year but he was returned for more development. The Predators knew he was ready for more extended time in the NHL but couldn’t offer him a roster spot after camp in 2017 and so he got a fresh opportunity in Colorado. Kamenev’s placement in this poll reflects his NHL readiness and the belief that he can make an impact once he gets that full opportunity in the league.
The AHL production didn’t dry up when Kamenev joined the San Antonio Rampage, which was a significantly worse and less talented team than he was used to in Milwaukee. He scored four points in his first four games with the Rampage while waiting for the Avalanche to return from Sweden. After the four month layoff for his broken arm Kamenev was sent to San Antonio for the maximum allowed three game conditioning stint and immediately showed why everyone was so eager for his return. He scored three points in his first game back (see video below) and his confidence and pose with the puck was undeniable. Kamenev is a smart and versatile center with size at 6’2 and 194 lbs who has keen vision and great playmaking skills but a shot to chip in some goals as well. He protects the puck well and can also play a defensive role. He totaled four points during that conditioning stint and was brought back to Colorado where Kamenev got in a couple games but by that time the Avalanche were deep into a playoff push and had their lineup set.
It is expected Kamenev will get a long look in the upcoming training camp with the Avalanche and likely will earn a spot on the opening night roster. After 150 total games in a very productive AHL career it is time for Kamenev to sink or swim at the NHL level on the last year of his Entry Level Contract. He will probably begin in a bottom six type of role until there are injuries where he can then show how much upside and offense he can provide at the NHL level. Due to the proximity of the AHL affiliate relocation to northern Colorado it is possible Kamenev might see some extra games up there with the Eagles from time to time but the bulk of his season should be with the Avalanche in order to determine where he fits into their long term roster plans. After nearly a year long wait, Kamenev’s time has finally come.