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Colorado Avalanche will need Alex Kerfoot to avoid a sophomore slump

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Alex Kerfoot is going to be need to have a good season if the Avalanche hope to return to the playoffs

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the reason the Colorado Avalanche were able to shock the NHL last season by making the playoff was the play of rookie forward Alexander Kerfoot.

Signed as a free agent out of the NCAA last summer, the former Harvard captain was immediately inserted into the Avalanche lineup, and was able to show that he is going to have a long NHL career in front of him.

Kerfoot ended his rookie season with 19 goals and 43 points in 79 games, finishing eleventh in rookie scoring. Hidden by those numbers is the fact that he fell off significantly over the second half of the season. Kerfoot scored 34 of his points in the 45 games prior to the All Star break. He was then only able to contribute eleven over the final 35 games of the season.

This isn’t rare for rookies - especially ones coming from the NCAA. Young players often get worn down as the NHL season goes on since they are used to a more spaced out schedules that are half the length.

Does this mean that Alex Kerfoot has already gone through the ‘slump’ we often see from young NHLers? Let’s hope so.

Going into the 2018-19 season, the biggest question mark for the Avalanche is going to be secondary scoring. In order to prevent a regression from last season, the Avs are going to have to establish a solid middle-6 to play behind the line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

Alex Kerfoot is going to have to be a major part of that.

As is shown in the chart above, last season Alex Kerfoot produced like a top-6 forward on a per 60 basis. He doesn’t shoot a lot, but Kerfoot is one of the best players on the team when it comes to shot assists. In addition to that, he drives possession for any line he’s on (see below). The ideal fit for Kerfoot would be on a line with players that like to shoot, but don’t necessarily have the ability to create chances for themselves - J.T. Compher comes to mind.

This offseason, there was a large contingent of fans that thought bringing Paul Sastny back would be a good move for the Avalanche. While Kerfoot isn’t at the same level of shot-creating, he is far superior to Stastny when it comes to leading the breakout and driving offensive play - and he costs a heck of a lot less.

While Tyson Jost is the ideal 2C for the Avalanche going forward, if he continues to struggle this season, Alex Kerfoot should be given the opportunity to fill the role. And if Jost succeeds in the role, Kerfoot might be the ideal play-driving winger to ride shotgun.

Whether he’s playing wing or center, Kerfoot needs to be give top-6 minutes next season. His play as a rookie dictates that he deserves the ice time, and if he can avoid the sophomore slump, he will be the key cog in any success the Avs have from a secondary scoring perspective.

With Vladislav Kamenev in the mix this season and the belief that Tyson Jost is going to take a big step in his development, it’s hard to predict exactly where Alex Kerfoot fits into the lineup. If I had to guess right now in the middle of August, I’d put him on Jost’s wing. While most lines are led by the center, it’s not unheard of for a winger to be the possession driver - think of Mitch Marner in Toronto or Clayton Keller in Arizona. Alex Kerfoot isn’t as talented as those two, but he could play the same role for this team.

What do you expect from Alex Kerfoot in the 2018-19 season? Will he suffer the dreaded sophomore slump? Will he be able to lead a dangerous second line? Or will he just end up being a nice depth piece for the Avs going forward?

Poll

How many points will Alex Kerfoot get this season?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    < 35
    (21 votes)
  • 34%
    35-44
    (139 votes)
  • 45%
    45-55
    (184 votes)
  • 14%
    > 55
    (58 votes)
402 votes total Vote Now