Following a bounce-back season last year, the Colorado Avalanche will be looking to replicate and build upon their success for the upcoming 2018-19 season. For the first time since the 2013-14 year when the Avs captured a Central Division title, hockey fans in Colorado believe in the team once again and are filled with optimism and hope for the future.
A large part of the newfound optimism surrounding the team the rise of the top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen — who dominated offensively last season, finishing the year with combined 243 points.
With a young and rising forward group as well as some changes during the offseason, the Avalanche will be hoping to get additional secondary scoring to help the top line produce and aliviate some of the pressure off of their star trio.
Here are some of the forwards that Avalanche fans will want to keep an eye on during this weekends training camp;
Originally a New Jersey Devils prospect, Kerfoot became an unrestricted college free agent and began his professional career as a member of the Colorado Avalance– a decision that proved to be advantageous for both parties.
With 43 points in his rookie season with the Avalanche, it was evident that Kerfoot could be a valuable member of a young and rising Avalanche squad for years to come. Proving himself to be a speedy playmaking forward, the former Harvard captain has the potential to be a key supporting piece to the second or third line.
In his first full season with the Avalanche, 19-year-old forward Tyson Jost was able to give the fans and the organization a glimpse into the talent that he will be able to provide as he continues to grow.
Jost compiled 22 points in his 65 games played last season. While putting together a handful of good plays and showing glimpses of where his ceiling can be, it is clear that Jost still has some growing to do before he is able to fill his complete potential.
Acquired in the major deal that sent former Avalanche center Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators, Vladislav Kamenev generated plenty of interest as a promising prospect who is an extremely skilled two-way player that can find the back of the net.
However, in his NHL debut and first game with the Avalanche, before he was able to display his true skill, Kamenev fell victim to a brutal hit from Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik. The hit broke Kamenev’s arm, and injured him for the rest of the season.
During the short amount of hockey that he was able to play with the San Antonio Rampage, seven games to be exact, Kamenev recorded eight points.
After dealing with his injury last season, Kamenev is back on the ice and has recently participated in the Avs rookie camp and Vegas Rookie Faceoff tournament as he prepares to compete for a job with the rest of the veterans at the Avs training camp.
Following a breakout year on the top forward line, and building solid chemistry with Landeskog and MacKinnon, there is plenty of excitement surrounding Mikko Rantanen as he continues to develop to his full potential.
Notching a career-high 84 points last season, the young 21-year-old Finnish forward made himself comfortable in multiple different game situations — including establishing his “office” on the power play that allowed him to tie for the most power-play goals on the team with twelve.
Heading into the final year of his Entry-Level Contract (ELC) and heading into a brand new season full of confidence, Rantanen will be the player to watch as he will be seeking a long-term deal following this upcoming season.
Wrapping it up
With speed and youth becoming the two staples of the team heading into the future, the Avalanche organizational depth chart has brought along some players (Logan O’Connor, Ty Lewis, Martin Kaut) who have the potential to add to the Avalanche depth in the future. Only time will be able to see if the Avalanche will be able to reclaim their former glory, but one thing is for certain — the development of this young forward corp will be a story to be watched during training camp and the rest of the season.