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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25: Logan O’Connor

The big kid out of the University of Denver could turn into a bottom six staple

NHL: Preseason-Vegas Golden Knights at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eleven writers and 480 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2019 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.

We kick off our annual Top 25 Under 25 list with Logan O’Connor as the 25th best youngster in the Colorado Avalanche organization. The 22-year-old was signed prior to last season as an undrafted free agent out of Denver University.

By signing an entry level contract with the Avalanche, O’Connor left behind the captaincy of the NCAA National Champions to “bet on himself” in a sense. He was jumping from a leadership role on a perennial championship contender, for whom he had appeared in every game for two straight years, to sign a contract with a team who would in all likelihood use him in a depth role on their AHL squad. With nothing guaranteed beyond the two years covered by his ELC would seem an odd decision to some – though following a dream usually is. Why not finish school and play out your last year as captain? It may be a chance to fill the score sheets, compete for a Hobey Baker and impress more teams. At the very least, he could leave school with a degree to fall back on. Instead, O’Connor decided to take his chance and run with it.

After being a pleasant surprise ay last years development camp, O’Connor entered the season with the expectation that he would be a bottom six penalty killer and depth forward for the Colorado Eagles – maybe even spending come time in the ECHL. What O’Connor delivered, would again come as a pleasant surprise. He finished the year with 19 goals, with five of them coming shorthanded to lead the team. His four shorthanded assists were first on the team as well, highlighting what a welcome revelation he was on the penalty kill. His success was not limited to the PK, however. He finished third on the Eagles in points with 42, as well as second in shots and game winning goals. While his numbers on offense were a surprise, especially when compared to his collegiate stats and the role he has played throughout his career, what came as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to his time in the NCAA was his defensive excellence. A big body who can take the ice against an opponent’s top line and provide quality checking and nonstop drive, his game is well suited to a third or fourth NHL line with occasional offensive output. Pat Maroon may be the most apt comparison, and not just because of the shared similarities of playing for a hometown team.

Although personally, I am as big a Logan O’Connor supporter as there is, I am not blind to the knocks on him. However, he is the definition of every old stereotype about hard work being worth more than talent. As a player, he consistently outworks every evaluation of him, and has done so at every level. He is also a proven leader who should get a few more NHL games under his belt this year, and with any luck will continue to outwork all assumptions and projections.