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.
When the Colorado Avalanche decided to pass on Alex Turcotte in favor of Bowen Byram with the fourth overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, they missed out on one of the more impressive offensive prospects in the class. Fortunately for them, one nearly as good dropped to their next pick.
Thanks to a run on second-tier defenders in the top-15, Alex Newhook fell right into the laps of Joe Sakic and Colorado’s front office at 16th overall. He’s a prospect that was too good to pass on and one that is going to help the Avalanche go down as the big winners of the 2019 draft.
Going into last season, Newhook was seen as a potential top-five pick, but a slow start to his BCHL season with the Victoria Grizzlies pushed him down draft boards. He came alive after Christmas and began to produce at a pace of more than two points a game. His draft stock began to rebound, but apparently it had fallen far enough to leave him for Colorado midway through the first round.
A native of Saint John’s, Newfoundland, Newhook decided to move to the Greater Toronto Area at 14 in order to further his hockey development. With a desire to go the NCAA route, Newhook eventually made his way to the BCHL rather than play for the Halifax Moosheads in the QMJHL.
Newhook is an elite skater with top-notch acceleration - something that is going to fit in very well in Colorado. His strengths play perfectly to the up-tempo style the Avalanche like to play. Newhook is also very smart and elusive; he’s got a smaller frame, but has the agility and hockey IQ to slip through defenders and weave around roadblocks to become a one-man machine. He needs some work on his shot and will need to add some upper-body strength before he’s NHL-ready - something that the NCAA schedule will allow him to do this season.
He is a very creative offensive player. What makes Newhook so successful is his ability to maintain control of the puck while traveling at top speed through the neutral zone. He’s got excessively quick hands that allow his stick handling to keep up to his feet and can beat defenders at a speed that you only see from the top skaters in the NHL. That sounds an awful lot like another Avalanche center from the Canadian Maritimes, don’t you think?
From out World Junior Summer Showcase review:
Although Alex Newhook didn’t land on the scoresheet in any of his three games at the showcase, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Newhook was most noticeable when he took the puck down the ice himself for a offensive zone entry, showing off his speed and puck control. He was a little hot-and-cold as far as standing out during games. Newhook would have one really good period and then disappear completely for the other two, or have a good shift every other shift (if that makes any sense). In the game against Finland where Canada got absolutely shelled, he was one of their better players (including three chances to score on one shift).
Newhook is probably a long shot to make the 2020 World Junior team, especially as a younger player. He had a really quiet tournament, probably more quiet than Avalanche fans and Hockey Canada management were expecting, given his performance at the U-18s in May. But if it doesn’t happen this season, Newhook will definitely be in the conversation to make the 2021 Canadian team.
When he was drafted, Newhook instantly became the Avs’ best forward prospect. He’s got the potential to be a high-scoring top-6 center in the NHL but is going to need some patience. There is a very good chance he plays more than one year at Boston College. Learning from Tyson Jost’s path to the NHL, there is no need for Newhook to make the jump next season unless the organization is absolutely certain he’s ready to make an impact in the pros.
The Avalanche have the luxury of being patient with Newhook. They are going to be a good team for the foreseeable future and with Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri and JT Compher down the middle, there’s no reason to accelerate Newhook’s development by moving him up the depth chart prematurely.
He shouldn’t have been available when the Avalanche selected at 16th overall. There is a very good chance Newhook could end up being a top-10 player out of his draft class - or even higher than that.
Whether it’s a year from now or after a handful of NCAA season, Newhook is going to be a very good NHL player. He and Byram are going to have hockey fans looking back at what the Avalanche did at the 2019 draft with amazement.