Last week, the Colorado Avalanche made the surprise move of demoting 20-year old forward Tyson Jost to the AHL. After struggling through a season and a half in the NHL, the team decided it was time to send Jost to the Eagles to work on his game.
After giving the youngster opportunities in the top-6 and on the top power play unit, head coach Jared Bednar had slowly been shrinking Jost’s role on the Avalanche over the past month. Culminating in less than 10 minutes of ice time in each of his last two games.
The demotion wasn’t overly surprising, though many onlookers felt that if the team hadn’t sent Jost down by now they weren’t going to at all. It appears, however that the team has a plan in in place, and that plan involved two weeks with the Eagles before being recalled in time to join the Avalanche for their first game after their extended All Star break.
Thanks to their bye week being immediately after All Star weekend in San Jose, the Avalanche have nine days off between January 23rd and February 1st. While his Avalanche teammates are going on vacation, Jost will be going to California for an AHL road trip.
With games against the Stockton Heat, Bakersfield Condors and Ontario Reign, Jost will have an opportunity to play big minutes and build his confidence before returning to the Avalanche for their game February 2nd against the Vancouver Canucks.
Things can always change, but for right now that is the timeline. Two weeks in the AHL then back up to the NHL to prove to Joe Sakic and the rest of the Avalanche front office that he belongs permanently.
Jost has already played two AHL games against the Tucson Roadrunners over the weekend. Despite being held without a point and recording only two shots on net, Jost has looked more comfortable playing a big role with the Eagles. While he’s spent time bouncing between wing and center for the past to years, Jost is playing exclusively down the middle with the Eagle. On a line with A.J. Greer and Martin Kaut, coach Greg Cronin has been given the directive to keep Jost at center and play his as much as possible.
Even with the big minutes and impressive play, it’s hard not to compare Jost to Arizona Coyotes fourth round pick Michael Bunting - a crafty forward that made his NHL debut last month. Bunting is almost exactly the same size as Jost and plays the type of game you’d want to see from the Avalanche youngster. He’s quick, aggressive and plays with an abundance of confidence. Bunting was the best player on either team this weekend, leaving Loveland with three goals over the two games.
Now it’s time for the Jost to go on the road with the Eagles - and that’s a whole different ball game.
The hotels, the food, the transportation, even the equipment availability is a far cry from what Jost is used to - a road trip in the AHL is a completely different life than one in the NHL. How the soon-to-be 21-year old responds to the changes off the ice might have as much to do with his development as his play.
No one wants to be demoted, but if Jost can use these two weeks as a learning experience, it could mean a lot for the future himself and his team.
Jost has 19 goals and 38 points across 114 career NHL games - a production level that has been a disappointment from a player with Jost’s offensive capabilities.
Two weeks in the AHL might not seem like much, but this could be a turning point for a player that the Avalanche hope can be a part of the core for the next decade. It’s not entirely make or break for Tyson Jost, but if he comes back up to the NHL and continues to underwhelm, the Avalanche might need to significantly shift their expectations for his future.
The hope is that scenario doesn’t arise.