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.
Keaton Middleton is a left shot defenseman who brings a big-bodied defensive game and depth to the Colorado Avalanche organization. He was a Colorado Eagle for the entire season last year and will likely fulfill his two-way, one-year deal in Loveland with the Eagles again this coming season. Middleton was drafted in 2016 by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 4th round. He has seen three games of NHL action with the Avalanche back in the 2020-21 season, where he logged four penalty minutes and no points. Middleton was among those AHL players to be called up during Colorado’s playoff run as a “Black Ace” after the Eagles were eliminated from contention.
Keaton Middleton is playing some of his best hockey I’ve ever seen. Helps get the Eagles up 1-0 with this shot and redirect from Maltsev. Nice to have Sherwood back too. pic.twitter.com/IVc6bvcxzN— Meghan Angley (@rightbyroy) May 16, 2022
Middleton has found the height of his success playing for the San Jose Barracuda early in his short career where he scored a career-high in points with 13 twice and in 41 games in the 2019-20 season. Middleton spent two years with the San Jose Sharks organization before signing with Colorado as a free agent on a AHL deal before the 2029-21 season and then was upgraded to an ELC late March of that season to give the Avalanche extra depth on defense.
Perhaps Middleton can take another step and be a consistent part of the Eagles D core again in the 2022-23 season or maybe even follow in the footsteps of his brother Jacob who signed a four-year $7.35M contract with the Minnesota Wild after spending several years in the minors.
Middleton has received the “Oar” from his Eagles teammates numerous times. This post-game celebration of player performance acknowledges his relationship with teammates and his impact on the room. A guy like Middleton doesn't always show up on the score sheet but positively impacts and elevates the guys around him. That leadership is crucial in the AHL and can help mold young prospects that could see more NHL action.
2022 Top 25 Under 25
#21: Wyatt Aamodt
#23: Taylor Makar
#24: Nathan Clurman
#25: Ivan Zhigalov