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.
Entering the podium positions for our T25U25 comes Sam Girard, deservingly so. Despite his naysayers and doubts people have on Girard, year after year he continues to prove to be an excellent piece of the infamous Matt Duchene trade back in 2017.
While he’s not so much a goal-scorer such as Cale Makar, he is always one to dish off assist after assist night after night. His spin moves on the blue line are mouthwatering, shaking off defenders and creating space for himself and his teammates going forward.
It's Friday, here's Sam Girard spinning around this season pic.twitter.com/yMtKtTzLhh— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) April 16, 2021
Girard has received some criticism, much of which he can’t control. His size, especially in a league full of big, large players, can cause some injury worries. This was demonstrated last year when he was injured on a big hit to the head against the San Jose Sharks in late April, causing him to miss a handful of games on the back end.
This killed the Avs defensively, missing a key part of their top four. They still rattled off win after win without him, but games were much closer without him in the lineup.
Despite this, he will use his size to his advantage, especially with his speed. He can turn on a dime, and switch the play simply by his movement. He will throw around some big hits here and there too to make his presence known.
We all know the story of Sammy G - a long development process for him was switched around when he was thrown into unknown waters in Nashville where in his five games there saw little success. Then, in a three-team trade involving the Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche, his career took a U-turn.
As soon as he stepped on the ice in Colorado, he looked as if he’d always been a member of the Avs. Playing 68 games and recording 3G and 17A in his first season, the sky was the limit for the-then 20 year old.
His game has only grown, and still only 23, will be a key piece to the strong, young defense the Avs have in their pipeline. The assists will continue to come, and if he can get to be a solid goal scorer like his teammate Makar, he will be extremely dangerous as a top four defensive pairing.
Sam Girard? More like damn, Girard, that was a nice pass. pic.twitter.com/iLSYmyLBr5— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) March 19, 2021
If the NHL allows its players to go to the 2022 Beijing Olympics this upcoming February, Girard could be flirting with a Team Canada roster spot. A blue line with Makar and Girard in Beijing would be a marvel for the whole of Canada, and make Avs fans real proud of their young defensemen.
Coming into this season, expect Girard to continue to be at the top of his game and grow even more. The sky is the limit for him, and he can go far with his talent and this squad. Long story short, as always, he will be fascinating to watch this season.
#4: Bowen Byram
#5: Alex Newhook
#6: Tyson Jost
#8 Sampo Ranta
#9 Martin Kaut
t10 Jean-Luc Foudy
t10 Logan O’Connor
#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