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.
2013 was a big year in the hockey world, especially for the Colorado Avalanche. Nathan Mackinnon won a QMJHL championship and a Memorial Cup, winning tournament MVP honors, and was then selected by the Avalanche 1st overall in the NHL draft. But it was the 2013 WHL bantam draft that, unknowingly at the time, would have the Avalanche’s fingers all over it in the coming years.
Current Avalanche forward Tyson Jost was selected by the Everett Silvertips. The Wheat Kings also took fellow Avs prospect Ty Lewis 47th, while Medicine Hat took defense phenom Cale Makar 164th. All three became future Avalanche prospects looking to make their NHL careers become a reality (although two of them chose not to play in the WHL).
Fast forward a few years, Jost decided to stay in the BCHL in order to preserve his collegiate eligibility (because CHL players are not allowed to play in NCAA). He tore up the league, putting up 104 points (42 goals) in 48 games in his draft year, was drafted 10th overall by the rebuilding Colorado Avalanche, and headed off to the University of North Dakota to continue his development.
Career So Far
Jost had a solid freshman season with North Dakota, posting 16 goals and 35 points in 33 games. Here is where the first debate about Jost’s development path arises. He signed with the Avalanche after his first NCAA season instead of returning for another year. If he would have returned, he likely would have been given a larger leadership role (maybe even a letter) with the team. He was praised heavily for his leadership skills coming into the draft. I will stand firm in my belief that a second season was needed for his development just to fine tune his skillset, gain strength, and build muscle.
As we have seen in Jost’s first two NHL seasons, staying healthy has been a problem. He had solid year at UND, but I saw room to grow. He was good, but not dominant. That was my stance then and it has not changed. After Jost turned pro, he went on to play six games for the Avalanche at the end of the 2016-17 season, where he scored just one goal. The following season, Jost had 12 goals and 22 points in 65 games. He was injured for portions of the season and struggled to find consistency in the Avalanche lineup. No big deal right? First year, you’re playing more games, next year will be better.
Jost’s primary goal last season was to find a comfortable role in the lineup and perform consistently there. Unfortunately,11 games into the season, he was injured. Although he showed some encouraging flashes once he returned, Jost wasn’t nearly as consistent as fans and the team would have liked to see.Then the team hit the December to mid-February slump, and Jost was sent down to the Eagles to try and rediscover his game, resulting in more questions about how his development was handled.
Some debated that he should stay with the Colorado Eagles for the rest of the year. I liked the idea. Jost could’ve played as the Eagles’ number one center, developed some chemistry with Martin Kaut, played a ton of minutes in all situations, and become a more comfortable professional player. However, the Avalanche opted to give him another chance, and after 8 games, 4 goals and 5 points, Jost was recalled to the big club. He looked stronger and more confident. His underlying numbers were good, and his overall game was improving.
Going into the playoffs, Jost was tasked with centering the fourth line, where he excelled. He drove play, shut down the opposition (including Johnny Gaudreau’s line), and turned what was the team’s notable weakness into a strength. Although Jost started on the fourth line in the second round against San Jose, Jared Bednar promoted him to the second line, where he scored in three straight games to finish the season and finally looked like he found a permanent home.
Going into this offseason, many thought Jost had the inside track to be Colorado’s second-line center for the upcoming season, but the Avalanche weren’t convinced. The trade rumblings in and around the draft had them linked to Vancouver's Bo Horvat, but a week or so later they picked up Nazem Kadri from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Going into camp now, the expectation is Jost shift to the left wing on the second line. I believe this will be beneficial for him. He can play in the top-six, lean on Kadri, and can continue to develop his 200ft game while not having the pressure of being the "guy" to drive the bus on that line.
This is a big year for Jost. Let’s not kid around about that. He’s on his last year of his entry-level contract, and he’ll need a huge season to earn himself another one. If he can’t prove that, there are other prospects behind him pushing for jobs in the NHL.
Keys to Success
For Jost to have a successful season, he must stay healthy, which is something he has struggled to do. It is critical for him to be an available contributor on this team. Jost always seems to be banged up, but if he can avoid injuries, play nearly all 82 games this season and be apart of a playoff run, he’ll have a larger opportunity to grow his game.
Find a Role
Jost must lock down a permanent spot on this roster. If by April we are still wondering where he fits on this roster, maybe the answer is that he doesn’t. I think he’ll end up in one of three spots:
- LW to Kadri (the preseason assumption is that this is where he will start)
- LW to MacKinnon (if things are going very well and the team wants to split up the Big-Three)
- At 3C (if this works out, I would like to see him get a shot with the big boys and play a 200-foot game not unlike Gabriel Landeskog)
If things just don’t go as planned, third-line center is the ideal spot for Jost, as he has shown he looks more comfortable playing at center than on the wing.
Put up Points
Another mid-20 point season total won’t cut it, especially for a player whose game revolves around his ability to produce offense. To me, anything less than 40 points would be disappointing. Jost was on pace for 30 points this year if he had played all 82 games. Is 17 goals and 23 assists really out of the question? I believe he can do that.
The Avalanche are also a really deep team. If they can get Jost, Kadri and the 2nd line to push for 60 goals and 120 points, Colorado could have a long and successful playoff run. But it has to start with a big step from Jost. He's the X-factor of this team. Everything has been put in to place for him to succeed. Jost has the intelligence, creativity, and skill to be a successful NHL player, and he just needs to put it together.