Just a few years ago, Nathan Lieuwen was an up-and-coming goaltending prospect in the Buffalo Sabres organization.  He even got into a few NHL games, and didn’t look out of place. Unfortunately, a series of injuries (namely concussions) temporarily derailed his NHL dreams.  Now, he is healthy, in camp with the Colorado Avalanche on an AHL contract and looking to get his career back on track.

“Obviously the injury bug has kind of bit me a little bit,” Lieuwen told Mile High Sports. “I’ve had to kind of fight through some stuff, but to have a year under my belt healthy and to kind of move forward, that drive has never been stronger for me to get where I want to go and to prove every day how good I can be.”

A big goaltender (6’5”), Lieuwen actually moves pretty well in net.  Still, injuries limited him to just 44 games in the past two seasons combined, leading the Sabres not to tender him a qualifying offer this summer. Now that he’s back to feeling good, he’s looking forward to getting into some games, and knocking that rust off.

“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” he said. “Physically…mentally…as far as my game’s concerned. So, hopefully I can translate that into games.”

Those games will likely come with the San Antonio Rampage.  That being said, the Avalanche only have four goaltenders signed to contracts, and the 25-year-old Lieuwen has more NHL experience than the two of them not named Varlamov and Pickard combined. The Avalanche also have several open spots under the contract limit of 50, so if he plays well, perhaps he can parlay his AHL contact into a two-way deal.

“I think the opportunity is big for me at this point in my career,” he said. “I want to be able to get in some games and show some people what I can do. This is a good spot for me to do that.”