The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey staff. Five writers have ranked players under the age of 25 as of July 1, 2023, in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
Welcome to the 2023 version of our favorite summer activity! Over the next four weeks, we will reveal how the staff ranked and profiled the top 25 players in the organization under 25 years of age. Factors of value, upside, floor, pedigree, proximity to the NHL, and a realistic chance of playing in the league were all weighed by individual opinion.
Though the number of 25 ranked plus three honorable mentions remains the same as the 2022 version of the rankings there has been quite a bit of turnover. Those who were removed due to aging out but still have an NHL contract with the organization are defensemen Nate Clurman, Wyatt Aamodt, Keaton Middleton, and Samuel Girard. After departing North America and having his contract terminated Danila Zhuravlyov is no longer part of the Avalanche or on the list. All the former prospect forwards who failed to graduate and are now with other teams such as Mikhail Maltsev, Martin Kaut, and Shane Bowers have been removed as well as Alex Newhook who is off on his new adventure in Montreal.
Before we begin with our 25th-ranked player tomorrow, here are our honorable mentions.
Goaltender - Arvid Holm - Winnipeg Jets/Manitoba Moose (NHL/AHL)
Arvid Holm is an interesting new addition to the organization and his failure to receive a vote and crack the top 25 of our list is more an indication of the unfamiliarity with him and not a commentary on his level of ability. As a former sixth-round pick in 2017 of the Winnipeg Jets, the goaltender spent most of his development years playing in Sweden for Färjestad before finishing up his Entry Level Contract with the Jets AHL affiliate the Manitoba Moose. There Holm posted an okay first season with a 2.90 Goals Against Average and a .877 save percentage but in his second year as a starter for the Moose, he flourished and improved his statistics to 2.67 GAA and a .911 save percentage with an increased role.
It is curious why the Jets did not qualify and chose to let this 24-year-old netminder go especially as he had been given the call to back up Connor Hellebuyck in the NHL several times last season including twice in the playoffs. However, Holm didn’t see any action and is still looking for his NHL debut. Now with a new squad, Holm is likely to split duties with Justus Annunen for the Colorado Eagles in the AHL as each hope to position themselves as the organization’s third goaltender on the depth chart. If Holm performs well and earns himself another contract with the Avalanche then he could climb quickly in the ranks even if he will be aged out of these polls the next time around.
Goaltender - Ivan Zhigalov - Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Perhaps the prospect with the most infectious personality and enthusiasm for playing hockey, Ivan Zhigalov is a treat to watch in net with his spectacular diving saves and overall athleticism in net and that’s why he earned a pair of 24th and 25th place votes, just edging him off the list. That entertaining style has only led to mixed results for the former 2022 seventh-round pick, however, as he provided a 3.59 GAA and .889 save percentage in his first year in the OHL. As the Avalanche only have one year of his rights remaining they chose not to bring Zhigalov in to play pro in the organization, even at the ECHL level, and he is instead going to play in Belarus for the upcoming season. There’s still a chance Zhigalov impresses enough there to receive a NHL contract but time is running short for this young netminder.
Ivan Zhigalov made a lot of spectacular saves throughout the 2022-23 season, but this brilliant paddle save was one of his best. It is our final @SVMClean Save of the Week this season.#FrontsHockey | @OHLHockey pic.twitter.com/tTwKXqHGH5— Kingston Frontenacs (@KingstonFronts) March 28, 2023
Goaltender - Shamil Shmakov - Toros Neftekamsk (VHL)
Shamil Shmakov didn’t receive any votes, mainly because his future as a goaltender, much less as a member of the Avalanche organization, is very uncertain. While he was on the roster at times for a couple of VHL teams over the course of the 2022-23 season he recorded no statistics for the entire campaign and it is unclear as to the reason why. Shmakov has dealt with back injuries in the past and has only played in a total of 29 games over the last four seasons bouncing around among many different teams. Regardless of where his future goes from here Colorado’s interest in the former 2018 seventh-round selection seemed to have peaked when Shmakov agreed to play in the USHL and he even attended development camp in 2019 but those days are long gone. Good luck to Shmakov in whatever the future holds.
Any predictions for how the rankings will unfold? Biggest riser? Greatest surprise? Let us know in the comments!