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.
As we get into our Top 10 for our T25U25 series we actually have a tie. Both Jean-Luc Foudy and Logan O’Connor split the vote, getting the same amount of points. You can also read Foudy’s profile today too. However, here we will be looking at O’Connor, who looks to be a full-time player with the Colorado Avalanche this season.
O’Connor was an undrafted player and the oldest player on these rankings. In fact, if we did the voting two weeks later, he wouldn't have even qualified because he turned 25 on August 14th. Despite that, O’Connor makes one last appearance on our top 25 list. He debuted back in 2019, just sneaking in at 25. Since then, he has continued to make a name for himself in the Avs organization and now looks to take that final step in becoming a regular player in the NHL.
For this exercise, O’Connor’s rankings varied maybe more than any other player. Making him a very interesting case study to look at. Some people had him in their T1O, as high as sixth place. This is likely because of how NHL-ready he is. So far, there have been very few players in these articles that fans would expect to see in the NHL this season. However, O’Connor has played 22 and 16 games in the past two seasons with the Avs respectively.
Others have him lower because of ultimately what his ceiling appears to be. O’Connor is a solid depth piece, but at 25 it would be shocking if he became much more than an effective fourth-line player. Not that there is anything wrong with that. However, it will keep him lower on some people’s ranking. I personally had him 12th, right in the middle. The fact that O’Connor has a legit chance at playing some meaningful minutes for a team that has Stanley Cup hopes this season needs to be noted. However, when it comes to him vs higher upside prospects, O’Connor likely won’t be a part of this organization's long-term plans like others higher on this list.
Logan O’Connor has made an opportunity for himself the past few years. Despite not being drafted at all, he stuck with his hockey career. After three seasons at the University of Denver, he made the Colorado Eagles in 2018-19. O’Connor had an explosive year, putting up 42 points in 64 games. He even got a stint with the big club, playing five NHL games that season.
He then had 25 points in 40 AHL games in 2019-20 and was rewarded with another 16 games with the big club. He had two goals in that time. Last season, O’Connor was in and out of the Avs lineup, playing 22 games and scoring three goals and two assists in that time. He was a decent bottom-six player that you can’t rely on for much scoring. However, his possession game was incredibly strong. Like many of the Avs players, while he was on the ice the Avalanche controlled the play. In fact, O’Connor’s possession metrics, especially defensively, were incredibly strong last season.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a very small sample size. 200 minutes really isn’t much of anything in the grand scheme of things. Regardless, the play seen by O’Connor was very encouraging. If he could score in the NHL at even half the rate he did in the AHL, there would be a long career in the bottom-six with these numbers.
It will be interesting to see what O’Connor’s role is this coming season. He doesn’t have a spot guaranteed by any means and will need to earn it come training camp. The Avs currently have 12 NHL forwards under contract and that doesn’t include O’Connor, Foudy, Martin Kaut, or Alex Newhook. Other names O’Connor will compete with at camp include Kiefer Sherwood, Stefan Matteau, Darren Helm, and even Mikhail Maltsev.
O’Connor should have the upper hand on a couple of those guys but certainly not everyone. Newhook and Kaut’s ceilings will certainly put him at a disadvantage. However, the big question will be, do the Avs want to use either of them on the fourth line? It seems reasonable to want them to play with more skilled players up the lineup, which may leave a spot open for O’Connor.
Either way, it’s hard to see him not being with the big club. Even if he starts as a 13th or 14th forward, he will eventually work his way into the lineup. Whether that be on back-to-backs or because of injuries.
It’s unclear what future O’Connor has with the Avalanche. If he can prove himself to be a useful and reliable player this season, he may find his way into their plans for the bottom six. Especially if he can continue to be an effective and responsible player defensively.
However, he needs to make the most of any opportunity he gets this year. At 25 he is already running out of chances, at least with the big club. The Avs are in win-now mode and if they feel the depth can be upgraded on, they will do it. O’Connor needs to show he is a core piece of the depth. Regardless, the fact that we will almost certainly see him at times this year has him tied for 10th on our top 25 under 25.
#12: Justus Annunen
#13: Oskar Olausson
#14: Shane Bowers
#15: Drew Helleson
#16: Sean Behrens
#17: Mikhail Maltsev
#18: Alex Beaucage
#19: Trent Miner
#20: Colby Ambrosio
#21: Dennis Gilbert
#22: Daniil Zhuravlyov
#23: Tyler Weiss
#24: Nikolai Kovalenko
#25: Nick Henry