As the boys in burgundy and blue hit the ice with expectations on the coming season they first have to go through the process of camp and preseason. While each step is just a part of the puzzle and no one thing holds great importance it for many in attendance at this camp their careers will be defined by what happens there.
Before getting to the main event of training camp first the rookies held a one day practice before heading to Anaheim for this year’s version of the rookie showcase. the 29 players assembled for one practice in Colorado. Not much meaning can emerge from just a one hour session but the idea behind some of the lines began to form. Head coach Jared Bednar is very deliberate about his camp lines and in turn it is important to see and understand where the organization slots their players.
This is how the forward lineup shook out for the first rookie came in California where the Avs rookies beat the Golden Knights rookies 5-2. The other two games were not as successful scoring only one goal in the games combined and going officially 0/16 on the power play. The lineups were not the same ideal as how they began but should have at least had enough firepower in the third game.
As for the defense Bowen Byram saw time with both Conor Timmins and Kevin Davis which foreshadowed to how Byram was utilized in the two rookie games he participated in. Byram and Timmins were electric together and all the other pairings had up and down moments as they were mixed up frequently.
The Martin Kaut–Shane Bowers–Nick Henry line had the most promise and would be nice to keep together in Loveland as they seem to have chemistry together and bring a different element to the line. However each were split up in main camp and have not found the same mojo with their new line mates.
As always the full-squad portion of training camp was divided into two groups mixing veterans, prospects and AHL contracted players. Different colored lines were in use here as well, thus we can see some purpose behind the groupings begin to emerge. Camp is a time to experiment and preseason games will shuffle things including if Mikko Rantanen’s absent status changes but there’s plenty to glean here.
Andre Burakovsky filling in for Rantanen on the top line has worked so far and he seems to have a shooting mentality. Add in Sam Girard and Cale Makar to the mix and the big guns look ready to rock. The speed in which they can play at is mind bending.
Nicolas Meloche and Jacob MacDonald seem ticketed for the Colorado Eagles’ offensive pair on the blue line. They have been a good match with Meloche playing a calm steady game. In the second group Dan Renouf and Mark Alt surmise to be their defensive counterpart.
The Mark Barberio–Ryan Graves pairing already seems like an adventure even in drills. They seem to bring out the chaotic nature in each of their games and they might be better served with different partners.
It is clear that Nazem Kadri is anchoring the second “top line” in camp on a line that also has regular season potential. Joonas Donskoi like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the first group have brought a refreshed energy to their lines as well.
Jayson Megna just like Colin Campbell in group one feel like they are getting more of an important audition with NHL players. Megna in particular seems to fit Bednar’s preferred grit and pace mold and is someone to watch how far he gets in preseason.
All eyes are on the young defensemen in this group with Nikita Zadorov taking on a more steady veteran role with Conor Timmins, who has showed healthy and fitting right in. Bowen Byram with Calle Rosen has hit it off immediately and are a nice complimentary pair despite both being left handed. Byram has not looked out of place among NHL players and still brings his smooth brand of confidence and puck moving ability.