Every fan base has their own bias when it comes to prospects. Fans fall in love with their own guys and begin to overvalue young players within their own system. Whether it’s the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers or Boston Bruins, we all want to believe the guys we’re developing are going to turn out to be the best NHLers.
That bias is why it’s always fun to look at prospect opinions from an outsiders perspective. Corey Pronman of The Athletic has released his list of the top-100 NHL prospects. Of course, this list isn’t without bias - this is simply Corey’s opinion - but it lets us know where Avalanche prospects are perceived by a more neutral party.
There is one glaring omission from Proman’s list - 2018 first round pick Martin Kaut.
Since the draft, both of The Athletic’s prospect writers have thrown a lot of shade at Kaut. They think he was a bad pick and judging from their lists, Pronman and Wheeler seem convinced he’s going to be a bust. He may not have the high-end potential of the guys at the top of the list, but Kaut is a very good player and it probably won’t take long for him to make these prognostication look very silly.
I understand that Avalanche fans are higher on Kaut than most will be, but to think he’s not one of the 113 best drafted prospects seems crazy to me.
Despite Kaut’s absence, thee Avalanche prospect did make the list. Let’s take a look at where they fall within the top-100.
20. Cale Makar - RD
This seems about right. Makar is the fourth defenceman on the list. He falls behind Rasmus Dalin, Quinn Hughes and Miro Heiskanen - that is exactly where I had him when a commenter asked about the subject a few weeks ago. Makar is a very high-end prospect that will likely make the jump to the pros when his NCAA season is finished, but he is definitely a step down from that elite top-3.
Makar had a very good, albeit unspectacular, freshman season at UMass and was one of the top defensemen at the world juniors. His skating is fantastic. He explodes out of his first step and can push the pace with the best of them. Makar is also a highly skilled puck handler and puck mover. He can make a skilled play off the rush, but also has the hockey IQ to make difficult feeds and run a power play. With Makar, the notable drawback is defense. He’s not the biggest guy and his overall play in his own end is average at best in terms of his positional work.
75. Conor Timmins - RD
Timmins is the 18th defender on the list. There are a few guys ranked ahead of him that I don’t agree with - Kale Clague and Filip Hronek - but again, this is probably the right range for Timmins. Pronman has him in the “Legit NHL Prospect” category and that’s exactly what Timmins is.
The Conor Timmins hype train ran a little wild last season, so it’s good to temper expectations - especially since he’s struggled to get back on the ice after ankle and head injuries.
Conor will be a very good bottom-4 defender one day, but for now it’s important that he has at least one full (healthy season) in the AHL first.
Timmins was one of the best defenders in the OHL and at the world juniors this past season. He’s never going to wow you with an end-to-end rush or big display of speed and skill. What he does do though is move the puck with pace and exhibit high-end hockey sense. He has great vision, makes good decisions and plays an efficient game. Timmins is also solid defensively and can be a solid shutdown defender. There are minor upside questions with him, but his game should transition to the pro level well.
85. Vladislav Kamenev - C
The forgotten prospect. Vladislav Kamenev had the world at his feet when he came to Colorado in the Matt Duchene trade. No longer buried by depth, finally making the jump from the AHL, only to have it all come crashing down with one his from former Avalanche teammate (technically) Brooks Orpik.
Now, fully healthy, Kamenev looks to make the Avs’ opening night roster and provide some of the secondary scoring help the team desperately needs.
Kamenev was part of the Duchene trade, coming from Nashville. He missed most of the season due to injury. Kamenev isn’t a super flashy player, but he’s good at a lot of things. He’s a very good passer with great overall two-way hockey sense. Kamenev makes plays due to his vision and offensive touch, but he’s also a center with size who can win battles. His ability to make plays at both ends earns him the tough minutes from coaches. His speed isn’t bad, but it’s just decent.
Along with the three listed above, Pronman added Avalanche prospect Justus Annunen to his list of honorable mentions for the goaltender prospects. For a team that has had a hard time finding legitimate goaltender prospects over the past few years, having Annunen in the system is a very good sign.