The month of April marked the end of the regular season for the Colorado Eagles who finished with a 40-22-10 record, which was good enough for third in the ten-team Pacific Division. That earned them a best-of-three play-in at home where the Eagles faced the Ontario Reign and quickly dispatched their rivals with only two home games needed.
For the true first round of the AHL playoffs the Eagles engaged in a best-of-five series with the Coachella Firebirds, who of course in fateful fashion are the brand new affiliates of the Seattle Kraken. And just like what happened with their NHL counterparts, Coachella Valley took the match in five games after the Eagles built a 2-1 series lead. Now the 2022-23 season is officially complete at all levels of the Colorado Avalanche organization.
Another storyline from the month was the addition of several newly signed NCAA free agents who all worked their way into the lineup. The forwards Jason Polin and Ondrej Pavel each had good moments to show they may fit in but also missed games with injury in their brief time in Colorado. The other new signee…
First Star - Sam Malinski - 7 GP, 3G, 2A, 5P and playoffs 7 GP, 0G 5A, 5P
The newbie defenseman from Cornell Sam Malinski had the greatest impact scoring almost immediately and in his pro debut and ended with two goals and three assists in seven regular season games. He was just getting started as he continued his contributions on offense with four assists in the two-game series against Ontario. Though he only managed one assist versus Coachella Valley the next question is how fast are the Avalanche going to give Malinski a look next season.
As a right-shot, mobile, puck-distributing blueliner Malinski has an intriguing skill set coupled with the fact he produced early and fairly consistently. The big questions remain of how much of that that production and confidence with the puck will translate in the NHL as well as how much runway for development is left as he turns 25-years old this summer. But no doubt Malinski moved himself high on the list of intriguing prospects to keep an eye out for in the fall.
Second Star - Mikhail Maltsev - 7 GP, 2G, 3A, 5P and playoffs 7 GP, 3G, 1A, 4P
Peaking at the right time Mikhail Maltsev had a great series against Coachella Valley with three goals and an assist. But like the rest of his teammates the scoring dried up and the Eagles were eliminated. Though he returned from a gruesome injury which took half of his season away Maltsev still finished on a high note.
As a pending Restricted Free Agent with arbitration rights there’s a decent chance the Avalanche might move on from him. Maltsev didn’t receive a recall to the Avalanche after his five-game stint ended early November despite being back in action by early March. He’s a good top-six center in the AHL but the big club doesn’t see him as a depth option unfortunately.
Third Star - Trent Miner - ECHL playoffs 2-0-4, 2.76 GAA, .926 SV%
While not an Eagles player Trent Miner still is an Avalanche prospect for now and the system also technically extends to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. Miner was getting some attention with his play in the playoffs as the Grizzlies faced top seed in the league and stole the first two games. Miner was key in those as he had a shutout in one and only gave up two goals in the other. However, Utah still lost the series in six after dropping four straight games in overtime.
With one year left on his Entry Level Contract Miner needs to see some regular AHL action next season if the Avalanche still have interest in his development. With an overall successful season where he put up a .910 save percentage Miner seems ready to do that but as always it’s up to opportunity.
Wild stuff in the ECHL. The Utah Grizzlies were the last team into the Kelly Cup Playoffs. They start on the road at Idaho, which won an ECHL-record 58 games. The Grizzlies head home with a 2-0 series lead. Trent Miner (COL) making a big difference in net with 29 saves tonight. https://t.co/5gR5vxlq7B— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) April 22, 2023