Avalanche looking to get younger and faster, and could do so quickly

Colorado Avalanche prospects took on those from the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in the inaugural Rookie Showcase at the Ice Centre at the Promenade in Westminster, Colorado. The tournament gives each club's coaches and management staff, as well as other NHL scouts, an opportunity to look at players against their peers in a game format (Photo: Michael Martin/Colorado Avalanche).

Though the Colorado Avalanche weren’t quite as active at the NHL Trade Deadline as many hoped/expected. Still, the plan for general manager Joe Sakic remains clear.

“We’re going to do what’s best for our organization long-term,” Sakic said. “This offseason, we free up some cap space and we’re going to try keep getting younger and faster, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Younger and faster, it’s an agenda that Sakic has been preaching for some time now. Just a few short years ago, the Avalanche were amongst the youngest and fastest teams in the league. Then, after getting pushed around in a playoff series by the Minnesota Wild, they went in a different direction.

Sure, the Avalanche still tried to play a speed game; it’s just the players that they were bringing in did not have the speed to do it. With all due respect to Jarome Iginla, he is many things, fleet of foot is not one of them.

I get it, every team needs a thumper. That being said, it is hard to deny that the Avalanche got a little faster simply by moving Iginla to the Los Angeles Kings, considering he is 39, they got younger as well. Addition by subtraction, if you will.

The improvement in those facets is a little more quantifiable. more visible, in the trade of Andreas Martinsen to the Montreal Canadiens for Sven Andrighetto. The age difference is only three years, and while Martinsen can hit, Andrighetto can fly.

“A young, skilled forward looking for more of an opportunity,” Sakic said of Andrighetto. “We feel, with his speed and hockey sense and skill, he can help our powerplay.”

With the Avalanche completely out of contention, they will now be afforded an opportunity that has escaped them in recent years, which saw them at least in the hunt entering the final few weeks. The Avalanche can get a little taste of their young prospects in NHL games, perhaps a preview of next year’s roster.

“We’re going to be in discussions, as the year goes on, [as to] which players we want to see,” Sakic said. “So, as we move forward, different guys will probably get an opportunity.”

The first such guy will be forward J.T. Compher, who has already been recalled from the San Antonio Rampage, and is expected to make his NHL debut Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators. A key piece of the Ryan O’Reilly trade, he is even expected to get a look on special teams.

“We’re kind of anxious to look at him,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. “He’s had a good year in the American Hockey League. Had a little bit of injury trouble early that put him out, but he’s playing really well since he’s been back, and playing important minutes down there, and carrying the load for the team offensively.

“We have high expectations for Compher from what we’ve seen from him.”

Compher could be the first of many call ups. A.J. Greer, Rocco Grimaldi and Chris Bigras also spring to mind.

They also have forward Tyson Jost waiting in the wings at the University of North Dakota, where his solid play could lead to him turning pro after the NCAA season.

The Avalanche say they want to get younger and faster. With all of this, the upcoming NHL Draft, and just under $20 million scheduled to come off their books this summer, that could happen faster than you think.

SHARE