It wasn’t some of the flashier development camps of years past with the likes of Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen hitting the ice for the first time in the Mile High City but nonetheless the return of any sort of regularly scheduled offseason work with the Colorado Avalanche prospects was a welcome sight after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. The camp was held for the entire week including three on-ice days.
This summer session was also special because those prospects with NCAA eligibility can participate as part of the organization without jeopardizing their eligibility and schooling. Each of the Avalanche’s collegiate hopefuls were in attendance except Matt Steinburg and Andrey Buyalsky skipped some of the on-ice activities. It was the first time present at a development camp for the aforementioned Buyalsky, Colby Ambrosio, Taylor Makar, and the newly drafted Chris Romaine.
After three mornings of practices and individualized drills, the prospects were ready to play in something a bit more organized, which was a 4-on-4 “Burgundy and White” game to conclude the on-ice portion of their training. A lot of camp invites filled out both of the rosters in hopes of catching the eye of someone in the organization watching from above.
Team Burgundy won the game by a decisive 6-0 score. The best moment for Team White was Ambrosio finding Makar backdoor but the puck looked like it glanced off the post with no ability to review. There was a shootout after the two-period game and Team White took that victory edging Burgundy 3-2. Taylor Makar provided one of the goals for White in this highlight reel tuck.
By my rough observation, it was Cameron Wright who was involved in the first four goals for Team Burgundy. As a member of the NCAA Champion DU Pioneers and someone who will turn 24 years of age next month, Wright could follow in the footsteps of Logan O’Connor and find himself a contract after a strong showing at this camp. He is a right-shot wing with good size at 6-foot-1 190 lbs and can move on his skates. An interesting fun fact is that Wright finished his collegiate career with 185 D-1 games played, which is second most all time. So suffice to say that he’s ready to move on to professional hockey.
Back to the current Avalanche property, it was good to see these prospects up close even in a very low-intensity setting. Tyler Weiss looked like he’s matured and is ready for the pro game himself. There was some budding chemistry between Weiss and presumed Avalanche forward Ben Meyers. Clearly asked to have his first Avalanche camp experience and take on a leadership role, Meyers was a bit beyond the competition but will also need to show a lot more battle in his game to impress head coach Jared Bednar in training camp.
On the defensive side of the puck, it was almost surreal to finally see Danila Zhuravlyov at his first Avalanche camp since he was drafted by the team in 2018. He made quite a few mistakes in the first period but in the second period seemed to let his instincts take over and settled into the game more. Zhuravlyov was rewarded by scoring a goal on the breakaway for Burgundy’s sixth and final goal of the evening. Taking up the mantle of the top prospect in attendance, Sean Behrens used his slick skill to create several scoring opportunities.
Now that the work is done on the ice the Avalanche prospects and invitees participated in the traditional climb of the Manitou Incline. A lot of hard work went into the week in hopes that every participant took away some personal growth and development and the Avalanche have better clarity on which prospects could provide value on an NHL or AHL contract.