Hockey season is upon us.
On Friday September 7, the long grind that is the NHL season begins for the Colorado Avalanche, as the rookies hit the ice at Family Sports Center for rookie camp practice. After they finish practice, they will travel to Las Vegas to take part in the Las Vegas Rookie Face-off Tournament, along with five other teams.
Five Players to Watch
C Vladislav Kamenev: The 22-year-old Russian didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do in Colorado after the Duchene trade due to injury, so this is a fresh start. Seeing as how he’s been a very successful AHL player, expectations will be high and you would think a player with his talent and pedigree should dominate this tournament.
D Conor Timmins: The second-round pick from 2017 is coming off a big year in the OHL, and barring a huge surprise, will be turning pro. He was not able to participate in the Avs rookie camp back in July due to injury, so that’s something to keep an eye on. The young defender will fight for a spot on the main team when training camp starts.
W Martin Kaut: Selected 16th overall at the NHL draft this past June, Kaut immediately signed an NHL contract and is expected to begin his professional career in North America. He will be given the opportunity to make the team out of camp, and a strong rookie camp would give him a head start. A year in the AHL seems likely, much like what Mikko Rantanen did after arriving in North America.
C Igor Shvyrev: Perhaps the most intriguing player at camp, the talented Russian tore up the MHL but was never given much of a chance in the KHL to shine. The Avs were able to lure him over to North America, and the former 5th round selection may prove to be a steal if his high-end offensive skills translate to the smaller rink.
D Nicolas Meloche: While Timmins will be the shiny new toy on defense in camp, Meloche will come to camp with a year of professional hockey under his belt, looking to crack the NHL squad. He played a big role in the Eagles winning the ECHL Championship and seems primed for big minutes in the AHL this season.
Three Storylines to Watch
- Will one of the goaltenders separate themselves from the pack? It’s been a very long time since the Colorado organization has developed an NHL goaltender. The goaltenders this time around will be Petr Kvaca and Justus Annunen, recent fourth and third round selections. While neither will be playing in North America this year, they have the opportunity to make a strong impression going into their respective seasons in Europe, and it’s possible one makes the jump to the AHL next season when the Avs will likely have space.
- First look at Greg Cronin. The new head coach of the Colorado Eagles will be making his debut, and the way the team plays may give insight into the style the Eagles will play in the AHL. Cronin’s head coaching career in the AHL and NCAA is questionable at best, so the jury is still out on this hiring.
- Who will be the surprise of camp? Last year, Ty Lewis had a strong showing in the camp and tournament, earning himself an NHL contract. He went on to have a monster season in the WHL, and likely will be in the AHL this coming season. One name to watch could be Josh Dickinson. The 20-year-old center was a surprise signing in April, seeing as how he was only a Freshman at Clarkson. He got a taste of the AHL, but clearly, the organization is high on him as it’s rare to sign freshmen players straight out of the NCAA, particularly undrafted ones.
September 8th: Colorado vs. Vegas Golden Knights at 8 PM MST
September 9th: Colorado vs. Anaheim Ducks at 6 PM MST
September 11th: Colorado vs. San Jose Sharks at 12:30 PM MST
Streaming information is expected to be announced this week by Las Vegas.