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.
As we begin the top seven in this year’s edition of the Top 25 Under 25, we enter those who have had some NHL playing time. Annunen is the fifth guy on our list to have played at least some NHL time in previous seasons. In a portion where the prospect pool has been limited due to movement that made way to win the Stanley Cup, Annunen is one of the few highly rated prospects left in the Avs’ system.
Annunen only appeared in two NHL games last season, both in subpar conditions. In the middle of a five-game road trip to the East Coast, Annunen entered a weird game against the Ottawa Senators after Jonas Johanssen was pulled. He kept the Avs in it until they lost it all in overtime 6-5. He would get redemption, however, in the next game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
While giving up five goals on 32 shots, the Avs would end up on top 7-5 in another wild affair in Annunen’s first career win. He even got his first NHL assist on this ridiculous goal from Cale Makar. While those have been the only two NHL games up to date for him, he spent the majority of time and found a ton of success in Loveland with the Colorado Eagles.
Goalie Justus Annunen gets first career NHL victory at Philly. His save percentage was .844 but … pic.twitter.com/2kclskCBRX— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) December 7, 2021
In 48 regular season games, Annunen had a 24-13-6 record while recording his first AHL shutout against the San Jose Barracuda in a 5-0 win. The six-foot-four-inch netminder stands tall in the crease at the Budweiser Events Center and will be battling for the starting job again, probably against the aforementioned Johanssen.
While only 22, Annunen has a high ceiling above him. He won’t be a part of the Avalanche squad full-time unless there are key injuries to both Pavel Francouz and Alexandar Georgiev, and would compete with Johanssen for the call-up as he did last season as well. He has the experience but still needs to learn the North American way of hockey a little more as he starts his third year with the Eagles.
Expect him to have plenty of playing time in Northern Colorado but in fierce competition with Johanssen. Greg Cronin and company will probably be pushing to play Annunen as much as possible and be feeling the heat from Joe Sakic and Chris MacFarland to make that happen as well. Annunen could arguably be a franchise goalie in a few years in Denver should he produce and become the best player he can be. With saves like these, he could be a regular in Denver in a few years.
Congrats to Justus Annunen on making his NHL debut last night for the @Avalanche!#RoyHockeyGroup #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/TTexzCu9GV— Roy Hockey Group (@royhockeygroup) December 5, 2021
2022 Top 25 Under 25
#8 Sean Behrens
#10 Sampo Ranta
#11: Martin Kaut
#12: Alex Beaucage
#13: Mikhail Maltsev
#14: Shane Bowers
#15: Colby Ambrosio
#16: Danila Zhuravlyov
#17: Andrei Buyalsky
#18: Matthew Steinburg
#19: Nikolai Kovalenko
#20: Trent Miner
#21: Keaton Middleton
#21: Wyatt Aamodt
#23: Taylor Makar
#24: Nathan Clurman
#25: Ivan Zhigalov