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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25: #21 Dennis Gilbert

The fringe NHL defenceman trying to pave his way

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Los Angeles Kings
Jan 19, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Dennis Gilbert (9) checks LA Kings right wing Alex Iafallo (19) into the boards as linesman Andy McElman (90) watches in the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eight writers have ranked players under the age of 25 as of July 1, 2021 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.

Gilbert was originally drafted in third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He went 91st overall to the Chicago Blackhawks. After going to Notre Dame for three seasons he split time between Chicago and Rockford (AHL). In 2018-19 and 2019-20 he played 22 NHL games scoring one goal and adding two assists. He also had 21 points in 93 AHL games but added 113 penalty minutes in that time too.

Gilbert became a part of the Avalanche system as the much less known and often forgotten piece of the Brandon Saad for Nikita Zadorov deal. He played in three NHL games last year and spent 17 with the Eagles.

Expecting offence from Gilbert will not get you far. He is listed at 6’2 but a solid 216lbs and is much more known for using his body and getting scrappy when needed. He has never scored more than five goals in a season in any league he has played in, because that’s not what is expected from him. His best NCAA year point-wise saw him register 0 goals but 22 assists in 40 games.

NHL Experience

Gilbert is one of the few players this low that has played in the NHL recently. Most of the players named so far in our T25U25 have been mid or late-round picks that are still finding their game overseas or in college. The biggest reason Gilbert falls to 21 is his lack of a ceiling. It seems unlikely he’ll see much time with the Avs this year unless a massive injury bug hits the team. However, unlike some players ahead of him, one has to wonder how much room for growth there is with Gilbert.

His ceiling really feels like a number six or seven defenseman for a few years if everything goes right. And while that’s still a useful piece to have in your back pocket, it lacks in comparison to players who may have a lower floor but a much higher ceiling. It’s why in our rankings he got a 16th and 17th place vote, the potential he may see a few NHL games soon boosts him a bit. However, the smaller ceiling keeps him at best in the mid-teens and worst mid-’20s for these rankings.

His Game

One of the biggest compliments to Gilbert’s game has been his skating. He isn’t choppy on his feet for his side and has often been described as a solid skater and strong on his feet. Once again, the biggest pushback is usually his lack of any offensive game.

When projecting forward for the short-term, Gilbert feels like a guy who may be able to step into a game in a pinch when you need some physicality. The problem is that seems to be what Kurtis MacDermid was brought in for, so it seems unlikely he’ll have a common role on this team.

Going forward, maybe he can grow himself into a useful bottom-pair player. If he continues to work on his breakout skills and keeps his feet with him, there is a road for more NHL experience. At this point, however, he ranks 21st in our top 25 under 25.


22. Daniil Zhuravlyov

23. Tyler Weiss

24. Nikolai Kovalenko

25. Nick Henry