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.
How good does the Matt Duchene trade look in retrospect?
We know about Sam Girard, the young blueliner who seems destined to be a star in this league. There’s been talks for months about the Senators’ 2019 unprotected first rounder, one that looks like it’ll be a top-10 pick. Last week Jackie discussed Vladislav Kamenev, the Russian forward who also came in the deal.
But today, we’ll discuss the last crucial part of the deal (with all due respect to Andrew Hammonds’ three playoff games in net this spring): Shane Bowers.
Bowers made the Hockey East all-Rookie team in his freshman season at Boston University, centering the second line, though he did play with Senators star prospect Brady Tkachuk on the power play from time to time. Bowers actually outscored Tkachuk, 32 points to 31, throughout their respective rookie seasons.
At the Avalanche Development Camp in June, Bowers told the Denver Post of his intention to make the jump to the pros at the end of his sophomore season (this upcoming March): “[P]ersonally, I hope to have a big summer and big season next year and hopefully make the jump to pro hockey after next season. The chips have to fall. If I’m ready, I’m ready.”
The first thing anyone will notice when watching Bowers is his quickness. Quick to move the puck, quick to jump into a seam on the breakout, and quick to release his wrister. He has solid size, listed by the Terriers as 6-foot-2 and 186 pounds as a freshman. Expect his weight to be closer to 200 as his body matures the next couple of years.
Cliche as the “high IQ” narrative may be for upcoming prospects, Bowers’ coaches have raved about his headiness. In a story by The Athletic last month, P.K. Handley (his coach with the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks said, “He’s a student of the game and a student of life. If he wasn’t a hockey player, he’d be a heck of a psychologist. He’s got a brain that’s really, really good.” (I recommend reading the Athletic story if you have a subscription; it’s excellent.)
From my own observation of Bowers’ game, I think he has all the tools to be a wicked strong two-way player. He’s crafty along the boards and his position play is beyond what is to be expected of a teenager. My NHL comparable for Bowers is actually former Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly. I think he has the potential to be a 25-goal second line center with heavy minutes on both special teams units.
Here are some highlights from Bowers’ freshman season at BU (pardon the music; I didn’t cut the video). The first three passes shown here show off his vision and patience really well.
So where will Bowers fit into the Avalanche lineup? If all goes to plan in the 2018-19 season, don’t be surprised to see him called up for a potential playoff run next spring. Bowers is arguably the top offensive talent in the Avalanche organization not yet with the team (you can throw Martin Kaut in there as well). He has all the pieces to be a major asset. I’d expect him to compete for a second-line center job with the Avalanche in two to three seasons.
He also found a pretty interesting way to spend his summer: