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 August 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.
One of the newest members of the Avalanche is 23-year old forward Mikhail Maltsev who arrived via the trade which sent Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils in return just prior to the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. While the 2021 second round pick used to draft defensemen Sean Behrens headlined the return package, it is Maltsev who was a specific add in the trade package and is expected to provide immediate dividends for the Avalanche.
Drafted at 102nd overall in the fourth round of the 2016 draft Maltsev played three more years in the SKA St. Petersburg system in Russia before signing his Entry Level Contract with New Jersey in 2019 and a move to North America. After spending a year in the AHL with the Binghamton Devils in the 2019-20 season in which he scored 21 points in 49 games Maltsev was ready for full-time NHL duty in 2021.
Mikhail Maltsev, acquired by COL, didn't play much this season so here's his current prospect card. Not a guarantee to become a full-time NHLer by any means but worth a shot. #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/xVT6gWLTAe— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 16, 2021
Splitting time on the taxi squad and active roster for 33 games with New Jersey Maltsev played his rookie season in primarily a fourth line role at both left wing and center. Maltsev uses his big frame and good speed to help hold possession as evidenced by his 52.17 Corsi For%, which was sixth among Devils forwards. Maltsev is also not shy about shooting with the highest shot attempt rate on the team at 16.95/60. Those attributes will serve him well on the Avalanche.
Maltsev still is on his ELC and has one year of waiver exemption left, therefore he could be an easy guy to move down to Loveland if needed to make any last minute NHL contracted roster additions work. However, it is expected that Maltsev fills one of the vacated bottom-six forward positions and despite not playing much on the penalty kill in New Jersey he will certainly take some of those minutes previously occupied by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
If all goes according to plan Maltsev will become that cheap fourth line center option the Avalanche have been looking for. His place in this ranking near the midpoint of the organization’s youth reflects that optimism and belief that he will have a role with the team as a proven NHLer. Maltsev could be looking at a modest extension next summer as the Avalanche only have six forwards signed (including Alex Newhook) for the 2022-23 season.
18. Alex Beaucage
19. Trent Miner
20. Colby Ambrosio
21. Dennis Gilbert
23. Tyler Weiss
25. Nick Henry