With less than a week before the start of Colorado Avalanche training camp, it’s time to start getting excited about the 2019-20 NHL season. Rookie tournaments are in full swing and we’re starting to see our favorite players hitting the ice.
After a one-day camp in Denver, the Avalanche rookie team flew to Irvine, California to take part in the Anaheim Rookie Challenge. The team split their weekend games and will wrap up the tournament Tuesday evening against the Coyotes rookies.
Saturday afternoon, the Avs prospects put on an impressive performance when they beat the Golden Knights rookies 5-2 in the tournament opener. After falling behind 1-0 early in the second, the Avs rattled off four straight goals (Nick Henry, Shane Bowers, Logan O’Connor and and Luca Burzan) to take a 4-1 lead going into the third.
The nicest of which was the opener from Henry who ripped a laser off of a nice drop pass from Martin Kaut. The play was started off by a beautiful breakout pass from - you guessed it - Bowen Byram.
After giving one back, Igor Shvyrev added an empty netter late in the third to seal the victory.
Sunday’s game didn’t end nearly as well as the team dropped at 6-1 decision to the Kings rookie. Alex Beaucage scored the lone goal for the Avs in a game where Bowen Byram was the best player on the ice.
Trent Miner let in all six goals, but he was hung out to dry on numerous occasions - facing nearly 40 shots against.
The results of these games don’t matter, but one thing that does is the fact that Conor Timmins was in the lineup Saturday night. It was the first time he’s seen game action in more than 15 months so seeing the 2017 second round pick on the ice was a wonderful thing.
While the rookies were in Cali, we saw Colorado’s top two centers working together to win the Montador Cup. As silly as it might seem in September, it’s hard not to imagine Nathan MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri playing for another cup in nine months.
The first of many championships for those two guys in the middle pic.twitter.com/qmcjWtb0G3— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) September 8, 2019
Back in Denver, the ice is in, the lines are painted and the Pepsi Center is ready for Colorado Avalanche hockey.
Even though training camps open later this week, the NHL still has an absurd number of star restricted free agents that do not have a contract for the upcoming season. Mikko Rantanen, Mitch Marner, Brayden Point, Charlie McAvoy, Matthew Tkachuk, and others still remained unsigned and it seems as though a number of players will be missing the start of training camp with their respective teams. We have heard very little news about these players but on Sunday evening, something interesting was floating around Twitter:
BREAKING: Anaheim Ducks are nearing a deal to acquire W Patrik Laine, per sources. Could be done announced as early as Tuesday. More to come.— MKW (@MikeKWalters) September 8, 2019
Now, this is likely just a hoax by someone looking for attention - and it’s working - but this is the kind of rumor that you hope is actually true. Despite having a very down year last season, Patrik Laine is one of the biggest names in the NHL and any trade involving him would be huge. This league doesn’t see nearly enough blockbuster trades happen, so seeing something like this would be a lot of fun.
What makes the idea of a Laine trade more plausible is that he and the Jets seem to be very far apart in their negotiations and when asked about it a few weeks ago, the young Finn refused to commit to a future in Winnipeg. Add to that the fact that the team doesn’t seem to have enough cap space for both Laine and Kyle Connor and you’ve got the potential for a big trade.
Of the big name RFAs, Laine has always been the most likely to be traded - maybe the Jets have finally decided to push the issue as we draw closer to camp.
Meanwhile, let’s check out what’s going on in Lethbridge, Alberta on a Sunday night in early September:
This just happened in #Lethbridge tonight. From what I’ve been told it was a 10 year old 3 on 3 tournament where a player slashed a ref. My source tells me the ref responded in a physical way (some are saying self defence) & this happened. Reaching out to organizer for more info pic.twitter.com/mlsZs8nNuE— Dean Millard (@DuckMillard) September 9, 2019
This isn’t good. This is the ugly side of hockey and at the very least I hope the parents that jumped on the ice are banned from Lethbridge area arenas for a long, long time. No matter how heated a game gets - at any level - don’t be like these boneheads.