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.
It’s been three years since the Colorado Avalanche picked up goaltender Adam Werner with the 131st overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
The team’s goaltending depth has been tenuous and a little frustrating. Where they had once expected Calvin Pickard to make a seamless transition from elite-level prospect and phenomenal backup, his numbers during a miserable starting season resulted in his exposure (and subsequent departure) in the 2017 expansion draft. Then there was Spencer Martin, whose development stalled and started to backslide the longer he spent in the system, and a lack of too many other options left them bringing in outside help at both the NHL and AHL level last year via a trade and free agency.
Werner had been quietly developing overseas in Sweden during that time, and his numbers never quite looked elite enough to consider the possibility of him making a move over to North America instead of playing out his contract overseas.
This past year, though, he split the net at the SHL level and put up an incredibly impressive performance with Färjestad BK to help keep an already-strong program at the top of their game. Through 26 games, he logged a .926 save percentage in all situations and averaged his fewest goals against per game since his 2013-14 season with the clubs J18 roster — which was good enough that he’s headed over for North America to presumably snag the starter gig in Colorado.
This will be Werner’s second appearance in North America, although it will be his first time coming over and getting to integrate into the team properly. The Avalanche first had him come over last spring, when he posted some mediocre numbers at the AHL level (in four games he was good for just an .880 save percentage in all situations), but a small sample size could have skewed those stats and a full North American training camp prior to his games with the Eagles should make for a much better debut this time around.
Werner brings an impressive season of pro play at the highest level in Sweden, which is something the Eagles will almost certainly benefit from. And while he’s got a few holes in his game — his angles when coming out from the goal line could stand to be cleaned up a bit, and his lateral transitions aren’t always the picture of efficiency — he plays like a top-level goaltender for his country and impressed with his forward progression in the last few years.
Goaltending can be pretty tricky to evaluate, especially when players are jumping from league to league and sometimes team to team. It’s worth pointing out that Werner had some less-than-optimal numbers in his first year pro with Allsvenskan’s IF Björklöven, but it’s also worth pointing out that he took that year’s learning experience and translated it into a successful run with Färjestad last year; even if he does take some stumbles when he first hits North America, it’s clear that he’s able to develop his game in a positive direction.
For the Avalanche, expect Werner to come into camp challenging for the starting gig at the AHL level.