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.
Over the rest of the offseason, we will be revealing the top-25 players in the Avalanche organization but first, here is a look at all the players under the age of 25 who didn’t make the list.
Shamil Shmakov (22) - G - The Avs’ seventh round pick back in 2018 was the only player not to get a vote from anyone. The 6’6” giant spent last year playing in Russia’s second tier professional league where he put up a .916 sv% in 13 games. He’s only 22 but this will likely be the last time we see him on the list because unless something crazy happens with his development this coming season, the Avalanche won’t offer him a contract and will lose his rights.
Outside the Top 25
Nils Aman (21) - C - The undersized forward spent last season playing in Sweden after being selected in the 6th round of the 2020 NHL Draft. The Avs too a flier on him as an overager in that draft but he is along shot to ever develop into a player worth bringing over to North America. He had 10 points in 51 games last year during his first full pro season. Aman received one 25th place vote.
Taylor Makar (20) - F - We all now the stories by now, Cale signed his gigantic contract extension just hours before the Colorado Avalanche drafted younger brother Taylor in the seventh round. Now, Taylor Makar is on his way to the NCAA after playing the last four years in the NCAA. He is very unlikely to ever get a contract with the organization and that is reflected in the fact that he only got two votes (both 25th) in our polling.
Nathan Clurman (23), Nick Leiverman (22) - D - Avalanche draft pics in 2016 and 2017 respectively, Clurman and Leiverman are both defenders from the University of Notre Dame. Clurman got a pro contract last year but provided little more than penalty minutes to the Eagles during his nine AHL games. Don’t expect to see either of them in an Avalanche jersey. They each got a couple of votes.
Matthew Stienburg (20) - C - A third round pick in 2019, Stienburg had a decent freshman season at Cornell before his entire second year in the NCAA was wiped out do to the pandemic. He was a long term project that has now missed a full year of development so it will be interesting to see how things go when he returns to game action this fall.
Vladislav Kamenev (24) - F - After playing 64 games and suffering a couple of very ugly injuries with the Avalanche, Kamenev went back to Russia to play for St. Petersburg last season. He finished with only five assists in 21 KHL games and likely won’t ever come back to North America to play.
Keaton Middleton (23) - D - The only honorable mention that played games with the Avalanche last season, Middleton is a giant defender who is a part of the organization AHL depth. A draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2016, Middleton will likely spend next season with the Eagles unless the Avalanche have some horrendous injury luck on the blueline.
Andreas Wingereli (23) - LW - After playing professional hockey in Sweden for the last six seasons, Wingereli signed a one year ELC with the Avalanche this past June. Though he’s only 5’8”, Wingereli plays the role of an agitator really well and could quickly become a fan favorite with the Eagles. He is a player that could probably have made the top-25 as there is a chance he could work his way into the Avalanche bottom-6 at some point this season.
Andrei Buyalsky (20) - C - The 93rd overall pick in this past July’s draft, Buyalsky is a guy who could move up the list quickly over the next 12 months. Scheduled to start his NCAA career at Vermont this fall, Buyalsky spent last season as an overager in the USHL getting himself comfortable with playing in North America. He was the last player left out of the top-25 after receiving a handful of picks - one as high as 21.