Rookie camp is over, media day… happened and now we settle in to view what our beloved Avs will look like for the 2017-18 season. Practices officially begin at Family Sports Center at 10:45am local time today.
Players who attended Rookie Camp (24): Barron (A), Beaudin, Compher, Greer, Jost, Kerfoot, Lewis (ATO), Nantel, Roy (ATO), Shaw (PTO – Rampage), St-Amant (PTO – Rampage), Storm (ATO), Toninato, Anderson (A), Ausmus (PTO – Eagles), Bigras, Boikov, De Jong (ATO), Gregoire (ATO), Lindholm, Meloche, Mironov, Timmins (A), Martin
Avs players returning from last season (16): Andrighetto, Bourque, Colborne, Comeau, Duchene, Grimaldi, Landeskog, MacKinnon, Nieto, Rantanen, Soderberg, Barberio, Barrie, Johnson, Siemens, Varlamov
Rampage players from last season (7): Belzile (PTO – Rampage), Girard, Petryk, Ranford (PTO – Rampage), Vogelhuber, Geertsen, Cannata
New signings (8): Agozzino, Wilson, Yakupov, Cowen (PTO), Graham, Warsofsky, Bernier, Brittain (PTO – Rampage)
Not signed and not on roster (1): Zadorov…
We have 21 players that skated for the Avs at some point last season, add Agozzino and Bigras as players that have played for the Avs recently. Wilson, Yak, Warsofsky and Bernier all spent some or all of last season in the NHL. Cowen didn’t due to injury but has in the past. So 28 out of 55 (or half) of the roster has NHL experience.
Since the Avs failed to accomplish the two things they absolutely had to get done this summer, we still have Matt Duchene on the roster but don’t have the defenseman he should have brought in a trade or Zadorov right now. The defense looks a little raggedy at this point because of that with the solutions just out of reach. Crisis meets opportunity for players like Chris Bigras, who just completed a solid Rookie Showcase, and Duncan Siemens who Jared Bednar seems to like but may be alone in that feeling in the org.
Alex Kerfoot is absolutely in the discussion for an NHL spot with a solid NHL camp. He passed his first test in San Jose this weekend and looks to build off that in front of the whole crew now. AJ Greer and Rocco Grimaldi will make the coaches’ decisions tough on whether it’s going to be Burgundy or Black jerseys to start the season. ATO’s Ty Lewis and Hugo Roy are vying for contracts of some sort after playing well with the prospects and Shawn St-Amant has a chance to upgrade to an ELC from his current AHL deal.
The Avs media day ranged from the predictably bland to the totally bizarre with several players talking to reporters and everyone doing stock photo shoots. Matt Duchene’s 16 second statement to the media sans questions grabbed early headlines but his stock photo went viral when his game face was projected as a plea for help by a bank robbery hostage. No hindsight needed to say the situation was a bit of a cluster by both sides.
Moving on to players invested in being on the Avs this year, they also had to deal with questions about Dutch still being there and Big Z being absent. Varly was unexpectedly chipper and Gabe & EJ handled things in their usual professional manner. Main thing I took away was that these guys looked really lean. EJ’s slimmed down a little over the years but he looked ripped. Landy’s lost some weight and we can only hope that helps with the hip issues that have plagued him recently. They all mentioned the conditioning programs that the Avs have implemented since last season ended and playing faster. Promising.
Jared Bednar spoke at length (more than 12 minutes in fact) on many topics. After showing some uncomfortable body language while answering questions about the Dutch situation he fell back in to his usual calm, methodical demeanor. He too mentioned the Summer conditioning regimen and how that will allow the team to play more aggressively.
Bednar wants a competitive camp and he said that spots on the defense are up for grabs (well yeah, they only have 3 NHL Ds signed) with Siemens, Bigras, Mironov in the mix and perhaps even Jared Cowen and David Warsofsky. I take his comments to mean that Anton Lindholm is a given at this point, which seems very likely. Like Eric Veilleux, he also seemed very pleased with Alex Kerfoot’s Showcase performance in San Jose and ready to give him a shot to unseat someone on the roster right out of camp. Good times. Check the whole presser out when you get a chance, quite worth it.
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Camp runs today and tomorrow then the Burgundy/White game is Sunday at 10am local time in Magness Arena. Pre-season games start Tuesday at home versus the VGKs.