As we begin revealing the final results of the Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25 ranking, which the community generously helped create, first a mention to those players with rights under the organizational umbrella who did not make the list. There are a number more depth prospects than ever so this list needed splitting into two parts. This one is comprised of those who did not get a vote from either the writers or the consensus fan vote and tomorrow follows with part two as the honorable mentions who just missed the cut. The full unveiling will begin on Monday with number 25.
Those appearing on this list seem to have a few attributes in common. Players who hold a NHL contract and spent the majority of their time in the ECHL, Europeans who are not likely to sign soon and NCAA path prospects who need to take major steps before receiving a contract offer. In each of these cases their path to the NHL is pretty undefined. None of these players made the Top 25 cut last year however those who were eligible at the time had some votes.
Signed as a free agent after a promising freshman year at Clarkson University there was hope that Dickinson would be a valuable player for the Colorado Eagles. With a plethora forwards signed however the defensive left shot center was edged out of the lineup too often and split the season in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies.
If Dickinson gets another shot in Colorado he should look to improve on his four points in 21 games output. Dickinson was a top producer for Utah with 29 points in 31 contests plus was their leading playoff performer with seven points in five games so perhaps a little time against lower competition will jumpstart that production.
After a strong freshman year at Penn State University which got Smirnov selected in the sixth round of the 2017 draft it has been a tough couple of years for the sniping right winger. Just 22 points in 37 games plus injuries and declining production each year is not what is going to get him a NHL contract. Heading into his now senior year Smirnov needs a big final season to push for that contract.
In the mold of the organization’s favorite stay-at-home physical left shot defenseman archetype Anderson received a NHL contract yet played the entirety of the season with the exception of one game at the ECHL level. In Utah he posted seven points in 55 games providing that grit and toughness the 2016 third round pick is known for as well. With a glut of defensemen in front of him already signed for the Eagles Anderson will have to work for a call up to the AHL and hope to stick in his second year.
Following his selection in the sixth round of the 2016 draft Clurman took two years of development in prep school and the USHL before he began his NCAA career at Notre Dame. In his freshman season Clurman secured a regular role as mainly a third pair defenseman and chipped in three points in 39 games. If his development remains positive over the next couple years the Avalanche could offer the right shot defenseman a contract.
Another first-year prospect at Notre Dame Leivermann saw the ice less than Clurman as he was a frequent healthy scratch and only scored two points in 23 games. After an encouraging year with Penticton in the BCHL it was disappointing to see the Fighting Irish with such little use for the left shot offensive defenseman. Leivermann does have the talent and time to turn around his fortunes with several more years ahead of him before the Avalanche need to make a decision on their 2017 seventh round pick.
A surprise inclusion on this list after Zhuravlyov’s solid performance at the World Junior Championship as an 18-year old for Russia’s bronze medal winning squad. The left shot defenseman spent the majority of his season with Bars Kazan in the second tier Russian pro men’s league putting up five points in 40 games. That departure from the much more offensive style of game he displayed and production in the Russian junior system which got him drafted in the fifth round of 2018 is perhaps where the disconnect lies in ranking him among the organization’s top prospects.
Zhuravlyov is expected to participate in the WJC again with an increased role as well as the hope that he can begin to see some time in the KHL. His timeline to sign with the Avalanche and venture to North America is unknown and another factor in the difficulty with determining how he slots in among the other prospects. Once Conor Timmins and Nicolas Meloche either graduate or depart from the system there will be a need to bring in a young defenseman to develop with the Colorado Eagles and Zhuravlyov is a prime candidate.
Kvaca has been a goaltender at the professional level since the Avalanche drafted him in the fourth round in 2017 but hasn’t established himself above the second tier in the Czech Republic. This season he posted a 1.80 Goals Against Average and .924 Save Percentage in 19 games with Motor Ceske Budejovice which earned Kvaca a call up on loan to HC Ocelari Trinec in the top league as a backup for a couple months. Next season Kvaca has a contract for Ocelari in hopes to stay with the club all season and entice the Avalanche to offer him a NHL contract.
The Avalanche discovered Shmakov deep in Siberia for their seventh round selection in 2018 as a lottery ticket on a massive 6-foot-7 goaltender. Shmakov was always expected to be a long shot which could take years to pay dividends but after an injury plagued year for Sibirskie Snaipery in the Russian junior league which saw him post a 2.57 GAA and .915 Sv% and subsequently lose the net to a younger teammate that timeline is a bit more uncertain. The one saving grace is Shmakov attended development camp and is clearly open to working with the Avalanche.