DENVER — It’s obvious that through three preseason games, head coach Jared Bednar is fixated on the next wave of Avalanche talent. Or at least seeing what he has in some of Colorado’s more recognizable prospects.

Most of training camp has been different for the defending Stanley Cup champions, and the preseason has carried that same feeling. It’s not just about roster battles among the veterans, rather Bednar is taking the time to see if any of that next wave will be ready to step in when called upon.

What’s helped make Tampa Bay so great for so long is the ability to plug players like Ross Colton, Cal Foote and others on entry-level contracts.

Make no mistake about it, the Avalanche are going to need some of their fringe players to make that jump in the coming years. Martin Kaut, Oskar Olausson, Shane Bowers and Sampo Ranta, among others, are all being given a fair shake. The preseason has been an opportunity to see who sticks out.

Martin Kaut

Appearing in his second consecutive home game, Kaut rebounded quite well from his opener, where he took two penalties and was held without a point. Kaut took another minor penalty — again in the offensive zone — but also pitched in offensively in Colorado’s 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. He assisted on Alex Newhook’s opening goal 19 seconds into the game and added a goal 20 seconds into the second period. He finished with four shots and was a plus-2. His strong forecheck in the third period even drew a penalty.

Oskar Olausson

Like Kaut, Olausson has also dressed in both home games during the preseason. Olausson did not have a point in Sunday’s opener but finished with four shots and a number of good looks. Against the Wild on Tuesday, Olausson was a minus-2 with two shots.

Shane Bowers

Bowers got his first look of action in Sunday’s road game against the Wild where he scored one of Colorado’s two goals. Bowers, like Olausson, was not much of a factor on Tuesday. he finished with three shots and a minus-1.

Sampo Ranta

Ranta also scored in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota and followed it up with a zero-point effort two nights later. The 22-year-old is perhaps the closest of the bunch to a call-up with the big club. After all, he was nearly on par with Newhook just 16 months ago in the 2021 playoffs. But his development took a dip in a disappointing sophomore season with the big club.

Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

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