The Avs Prospect Showcase crew finished up yesterday with a crushing 5-3 loss to Anaheim, the second game in a row they were tied with less than 30 seconds to go but couldn’t finish it off. No, the results weren’t there but like I’ve been harping on, the process was solid and progress was evident.
Statistically the team outshot the competition 107-86 (55.4%, yay) and the eye test indicated they spent quite a bit more time in the offensive zone than defending. Money stat of the week: Shooting percentage. The good guys shot 9.3% and their opponents shot 18.6% (17.6% minus the ENG). Goaltending matters at the end of the day.
To help wrap this up we got a fair chunk of the Burgundy Rainbow staff to share their thoughts on the Showcase and the Avs participation this year. Away we go.
The prospects went 0-3 (or 0-2-1 depending on how you want to look at it) in the Showcase. What, if anything, bothers you about this?
Rudo: Three losses doesn’t bother me at all, the guys who have a shot of playing with Avs all looked good.
Steph: Nothin. In the rookie showcase everything’s made up and the results don’t matter. We’re here to watch individual players and see where they’re at, that’s all.
Oak: The losses don’t bother me at all. These games are full of players that won’t ever be in an NHL uniform. I focused more on the players that will most likely be in the NHL at some point in time, and they, for the most part, were successful.
QueenJK: One win would have been nice for morale and confidence especially with the way the Avs and Rampage ended their seasons last year. The way they played and competed showed enough positives that the scoreboard result shouldn’t be too much of a disappointment.
SeaMill: The losses aren’t a huge deal. The team looked competitive 2 out of the 3 games and the guys who needed to look good, did.
earl: I’m bothered slightly that they couldn’t finish one of the games off, blowing late leads is something that’s plagued the org for a while, but not in a meaningful way. I’m not going to look back on this months from now as some kind of harbinger.
Of the players that are new to the organization, who surprised you the most?
Rudo: Kerfoot was the big one for me, he is absolutely challenging for an NHL spot based on this showcase, hopefully he can carry that momentum into camp.
Steph: St. Amant was super impressive to me. He was making it happen in the offensive zone and I’d never even heard of the dude before. Not sure there’s any argument to be made that would beat Kerfoot. He fit perfectly with his NHL-bound linemates.
Oak: Kerfoot stood out to me. His second and third games were better than his first. His vision surprised me, dishing multiple backhand passes to teammates, and his board work was impressive while forechecking.
QueenJK: The obvious answer is Kerfoot. He showed a NHL skill level and not only merely kept up with top prospects like Jost and Compher all weekend but added his own game to compliment them. Very encouraging thus far.
Just to give a couple other players some love, Ty Lewis kept up on the line with Kerfoot and Compher consistently well in all three games although in a more complementary role. The fact that Thomas Gregoire is a junior player wasn’t lost on anyone watching the games but he showed some skill and puck moving talent more than he does in drills and is at least as interesting option moving forward.
SeaMill: as everyone else has said, Kerfoot looked impressive. I was expecting a solid player who can throw up a couple points for San Antonio. What I saw though was a guy who honestly might have a shot at the Avs one day. The other surprise to me was Kvaca. He was such an unknown coming into camp. He dropped everything to come to camp as soon as he heard he got drafted. He looked like a very promising goalie. He jumped to one of my favorite prospects the past week. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him.
earl: Kerfoot was the guy for me, mainly because I’d never watched him before and it’s always a bit of a transition going from amateur to pro. Both he and Ty Lewis showed that they can play a solid 2-way game when asked to and it’s always nice discovering that players are more complete than you expected moving into the pro leagues.
If you had any doubts coming in about Tyson Jost’s ability to play in the NHL and succeed within a short time frame, did that change from what you saw?
Rudo: It is now abundantly clear that Jost’s hands, feet and head can all play at NHL speed, but we still need to see him score goals at the next level.
Steph: I didn’t see what others saw from Jost, but that’s pretty easy to blame on the feed and the fact that I didn’t get to watch the Ducks game because of work. Would have expected at least a little goal scoring from him.
Oak: It’s hard to tell, honestly. Many of these players are not good, but he was out there doing what I expected, making chances happen with forechecking, smooth stick handling, good vision and an all around good game.
QueenJK: Jost won’t really be able to answer those questions until he’s in NHL camp and preseason. His two biggest questions in strength and speed didn’t seem to come up at all. I know others would have liked him on the scoresheet more but the way he controlled play every time he was on the ice was enough for me.
SeaMill: He looked very good but most of these players aren’t NHL level. He has a lot of skill and it is clear he has the potential to be a star. But the only way to know is if he proves it in main camp.
earl: I didn’t and don’t have any doubts about him being able to succeed quickly in the NHL. I think he’ll have a bit of difficulty starting out, much like Mikko did, but also like Mikko he’ll be able to turn up the tempo through the course of the season. What I saw over 3 games was solid consistent play, the ability to see plays develop and generate scoring chances and improvement night over night.
What area of weakness in the organization did the Showcase highlight, if any?
Rudo: Goaltending. Kvaca was arguably the best goaltender for the Avs at the showcase. Martin was shaky at best in his full game and Leclerc was clearly out classed. With Martin set to be the AHL starter let’s hope that this was just a one off weak performance.
Steph: Defensive prospects. There’s Bigras and Mironov who are only technically prospects at this point, they should be making the jump. There’s Meloche. After that was a whole lot of yikes-town. (After reading some other responses here: apparently the weakness is Everywhere. ha)
Oak: Goaltending. Kvaca was fine after his shaky start. Martin was up and down and let’s not talk about Leclerc. After seeing the game that Miska had, it was clear that the Avs’ goaltending prospects (in this small sample size) may not be there.
QueenJK: Goal scoring. It’s like the org’s dirty little secret that never goes away. There just aren’t enough (any?) finishers in the org or the pipeline. A lot of good possession, zone time and scoring chances just weren’t converted. Blame it on rust, bad ice or the fact that it was a rookie tournament but even with more skill playmakers looking to make the jump the reality is the Avs still need to get some players who can flat out score goals.
SeaMill: we have only seen the youngsters at this point so it seems unfair to determine weaknesses at the NHL level until main camp. But prospect development is a big weakness that we have seen time and time again including this year. Every area seems to need work so it seems to call under the development staff for those shortcomings.
earl: Goaltending was the first thing that popped into my mind here, the Avs were clearly behind their Showcase counterparts, but finishing ability and to a lesser extent defense were something of a concern. With 10 Ds on the roster they never put out their best 6 guys in any one game, I think if they had it might be a different story especially if Gregoire was a signed part of the org. The ability to finish was a bit of a concern but they shot nearly 10% and there were a lot of different goal scorers top to bottom. I’m not sure you can criticize them much after scoring 3.3 goals per game.
Do you like the format of the Showcase vs just grinding out drills for 4 days and do you think that this is a good way to prepare prospects for main camp/pre-season?
Rudo: Absolutely, the more actual games the better. You can be a total stud in drills but that doesn’t matter if you can’t transfer it into a live game. It also allows a better look at guys who look medicore in drills but their game sense takes them to the next level.
Steph: I love the format except for the afternoon game part. It’s great. Three games is a good amount to swap in and out goalies and see what they do (sup Kvaca, I see you), play with the lines and pairings, give different guys different opportunities, and experience different game situations. Like the fact that their power play was your favorite poop-related expletive. Or that Kerfoot has the Eyes out there. Or that Ben Storm needs to calm down or go away. Any chance to grow and evaluate players in a live-fire environment rather than just drills and intra-squad shinny can only help. The event should be a couple of days later maybe, give them more than one day of practice to get to know each other, but I wouldn’t change anything else.
Oak: I love the format and I loved that it was streamed, via NHL.com nonetheless. I feel that some up-tempo games may do a better job getting players ready for camp, however that’s purely speculation. For the fans, it was a blast though.
QueenJK: The Showcase is really important as an evaluation tool to see players in game situations especially since the Avs don’t typically scrimmage much if at all from development camp through rookie camp and even main camp. Isolating the rookies in particular helps peer to peer evaluations and puts the prospects in roles they might not get in main camp and preseason. Those preseason games are an odd mix of vets, AHLers, Pro try-outs and prospects as it is plus the junior prospects won’t hang around at that point much at all and the amature try-outs certainly won’t. Game situation is a critical part of evaluation and this is really the best way to handle it even if some drawbacks such as time, injury, travel and giving up practices are there.
The team aspect I feel is another important factor. It’s one thing to practice or scrimmage against your own teammates but to bond together and go after a common enemy in a different color jersey is something that will help the group go forward especially as they play together on a pro team down the road. The Avs have tried to do this all through the summer as they brought in groups of prospects to train together and getting to then play a game together is reinforcement. The camaraderie aspect has been lacking in the org for a while now and hopefully bringing the prospects together at an early age will pay dividends in the future.
SeaMill: Games are extremely important. You need to see how players thrive in have situations. Kerfoot is one of the players who benefits from that. But I wish they had more than one day of rookie camp. Drills are actually important at assessing weaknesses that might not be clear in game situations. But overall the games are definitely important to getting a good look at the prospects.
earl: I’ll admit I was really skeptical of doing a program like this when it was first announced last summer but now I’m a big fan. I agree with Steph that another practice before the tourney starts would be a great idea but time is a factor and it’s the same for every team. I think the level of competition and the game vs practice situation are fantastic prep for what the prospects will face in main camp. We’ve seen a lot of the younger players in the org be tentative in main camp in years past because turning up the compete level isn’t like flipping a switch. They need to get a couple days of intensity like this before rolling with the veteran players. I think it makes the whole camp a better experience for them, and when they are more competitive it makes camp better for the vets as well.
The only grumble I have is with the difficulty balancing trying to win games and getting every single player ready for main camp. EV as much as said that the losses weren’t a concern and his player usage indicated that. If they had come to San Jose with winning the tournament in mind the results would have been quite a bit different. That’s fine, but as a fan it’s hard to keep that in the back of your mind while watching the games.
/ / / / / /
Now the real work begins for the young prospects. Main camp is Friday and Saturday practices at Family Sports Center leading into the Burgundy/White Game on Sunday morning. After that we’ll have our first round of cuts. Good luck, fellows.