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Logan O’Connor’s season and future deserves another look

You could look at LOC’s season in a variety of different ways.

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

A young Logan O’Connor entered a Colorado Avalanche team in the midst of the 2018-19 season, undrafted out of the University of Denver. The Pioneers were coming off a disappointing loss to Ohio State University in the NCAA Tournament and he had no emphasis on the game. LOC would go undrafted and eventually continue his hockey career in Denver.

LOC would play only five games for the Avalanche that season from December 31 to January 9, with donuts across his stat line. Like his final game at DU, he didn’t have much impact in those five games, averaging 6:49 of ice time in said five games.

DU versus Colorado College at Magness Arena Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

For the next two years, O’Connor would spend much of the season out of the Avs lineup fighting for his spot in the NHL. It was a heartwarming story that the DU man was looking to find his spot in this solid Avalanche team that was looking to compete for championships. Even after playing 22 games in the 2021 season with only three goals and two assists, it was difficult to see how LOC would do in the future, or if he might even be a regular.

Enter 2021-22 Logan O’Connor.

The 25-year-old played 81 of the 82 games this past season putting up the highest numbers of his career - playing the majority of games will help boost those stats. He recorded eight goals and 16 assists in those 81 games. While he wasn’t a menace offensively, his work defensively was stellar (besides this spectacular goal against the New York Rangers), especially on the penalty kill.

He was notorious for getting rough and doing dirty work, with exactly 100 hits in the regular season and 59 blocks, sacrificing himself. It led to some good chances on the penalty kill, recording a shorthanded goal along with three assists on shorthanded goals. He did this all averaging just under 14 minutes of ice time this season, the most of his career.

LOC got plenty of attention early on in the season, especially when it came to the PK. However, after the middle of the season, he certainly slowed down. He wasn’t too prominent in the playoffs either, only recording one goal and three assists in 17 games en route to the Stanley Cup.

While No. 25 is no Nathan MacKinnon or Cale Makar talent-wise, he knows his spot in the team. He knows his role and what he needs to do to get the job done for his team. He will stand up to almost anybody on the ice if tempers start to flare, as we've seen time and time again in his three seasons in an Avs uniform. So what should we expect of him heading into next season?

He will be more entrusted as the next three seasons move on, as Joe Sakic signed him to a three-year extension to the end of the 2024-25 season, accruing $1.25M AAV in that time. With Nazem Kadri’s decision still looming large, the depth player will be moving beyond the fourth line up to the third line if Kadri does go.

Will he step it up and produce further in the next three seasons? The Avs are hopeful. His numbers will go up now as a regular on the team and continue forward in his development. Mind you, he’s only 25. I could see him end up becoming someone like a mini J.T. Compher. I don’t believe LOC will ever produce more than 40 points in a season and simply be a solid depth player.

Vegas Golden Knights v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Avs will be relying on depth, especially if and when Kadri is no longer in an Avalanche uniform. LOC will be relied on and deservedly so. He has earned that role and responsibility to perform on a nightly basis. Whether this performance is continuing his status of being an enforcer or putting up some higher numbers on his stat line, he will do whatever Jared Bednar wants him to do.

It’s just the way LOC has been since his DU days. He’s come a long way since his final game against the Buckeyes. He’s got his Cup and is eyeing yet another one. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted, not bad at all.