The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey staff. Eight writers have ranked players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022, in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of value to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
The Colorado Avalanche selected defenseman Nathan Clurman in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, two years before he entered his freshman year at Notre Dame. If you judged the Boulder native solely off his stats page, you might wonder what he is doing on this list. He didn’t score his first collegiate goal until his junior year, and his 15 total assists in college don’t particularly jump off the page either. However, the Avalanche have more than enough offensive defenseman under 25 (spoiler alert), and his shutdown defensive capabilities are an excellent complement to the high-end offensive blue line talent you’ll see farther up this Top 25 Under 25 list. That said, while he is a defensive defenseman, he still fits the traditional Avalanche profile of a fluid defenseman with excellent skating abilities.
See Nate skate #EaglesCountry pic.twitter.com/IRjEAlpTfU— Colorado Eagles (@ColoradoEagles) July 31, 2021
Clurman brings plenty of intangibles to the table as well, as he made the Academic All-Big Ten team his final two years and served as the Fighting Irish’s captain his junior season. By all accounts, his work ethic is elite as well, as Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told The Gazette that Clurman “blew away all of our fitness testings.”
After leaving the Irish with a year of eligibility remaining, he played nine games for the Colorado Eagles before breaking a bone in his foot blocking a shot and ending his season. The following year, Clurman’s offensive game leveled up, as his first AHL goal came just 13 games into his professional career.
That's a heck of a first pro goal, Nate #EaglesCountry pic.twitter.com/BS5T4vQlPj— Colorado Eagles (@ColoradoEagles) December 30, 2021
A few games after this goal, he would report to the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL where he played 54 games and scored three goals and 21 assists along with a +24 rating last season. He added a goal and a couple of assists in 18 playoff games, demonstrating how he has improved his offensive game while maintaining his identity as a defensive defenseman. Clurman was not at the recent Avalanche development camp and it’s an open question as to where he will play this season, but given his two stints in the AHL already it’s clear that in an ideal world the Avalanche would prefer he play in Loveland this year for the Eagles.
Clurman is just the second Colorado native to be drafted by the Avalanche (J.D. Corbin of Littleton was the first in 2004), and if he eventually finds his way onto the NHL roster he would be the first Coloradan drafted by the Avs to play for his hometown team.