As always playing in the Colorado Avalanche’s minor league system presents a set of challenges a prospect needs to overcome and this season is no different. There have been peaks and valleys for all of the players under NHL contract but each have seen enough positives to build on.
What defines a prospect is often difficult to pinpoint but generally those who are past their Entry Level Contracts and are no longer waiver exempt are beyond the developing prospect phase of their career. This applies to several once-upon-a-time prospects under the Avalanche umbrella including Anton Lindholm, Sheldon Dries and Julien Nantel.
Also in this category is AJ Greer who despite getting called up twice to the Avalanche this season, yet failed to get in a NHL game, is now a fourth year professional who has cleared waivers. With 18 points in 33 games in the AHL with the Colorado Eagles, Greer is behind his second leading scorer pace from last year and seems to have lost some of the zeal to his game even if he’s still an effective AHL player.
The headliners in the prospect category are a duo of former first round forwards who have found their game following injuries and are pushing for an opportunity. Shane Bowers has received attention for his hot streak following an injury which forced him to miss games in November. Points in 11 of 12 games and a four goal-per-game run catapulted his production to 20 points in 34 games. The streak appears to have ended as Bowers has scored only one point in his last six games now but the confidence with the puck has remained. Bowers has also been playing on the wing which allows him to drive north-south and use his power forward instincts more.
For more on Shane Bowers go HERE
Martin Kaut is the other forward in that equation and has quietly put in good performances since his own return from injury. Along with Bowers he has settled into second unit power play and penalty killing duties although Kaut is used more frequently and in some special or late game situations. His defensive game is advanced and coupled with nearing the 100 AHL games played goalpost Kaut is the more NHL ready of the two. Kaut is also heating up on the scoreboard and while his 13 points and four goals in 27 games doesn’t leap off the page he has scored four points in the last four games including a goal and two primary shorthanded assists. His heavy play on the boards and intelligence with the puck is what makes him an effective player.
For more on Martin Kaut go HERE
Conor Timmins would also belong in this group as the only prospect defenseman remaining with NHL potential. Despite missing six weeks with a lower body injury Timmins picked up right where he left off with four points in as many games since his return and 17 points total in 26 games. He’s still working on his defensive game and cleaning up some penalty troubles but Timmins is a very effective puck mover and already has adjusted to the pace to impact on the pro game. His vision has helped create many breakaway chances and is also a bonus on either power play unit with his hard shot and ability to read the play.
For more on Conor Timmins go HERE
Shoutout to Josh Anderson who has managed to get into 10 games with the Eagles and even scored a goal despite finding himself a regular healthy scratch for much of the season. That beat getting sent to Utah although that’s where he is now since the Eagles are finally healthy. Anderson brings what one would expect which is physicality in a depth defensive role and a couple big shots from the point.
Logan O’Connor is the only prospect to get games in a call-up this year. At 23 years of age he is in the last year of his ELC following a three-year career at the University of Denver and he is approaching the prospect limits. O’Connor is at his best when using his speed and can be very dangerous on the penalty kill. With 22 points in 33 games he’s pushing to match the production he had last season with some improved defense. O’Connor has likely topped out in his development curve at this point and if the Avalanche see him as a depth energy role player he is ready to fill that need.
Those buried in spirit but do still see regular action in the AHL are forwards Nick Henry and Igor Shvyrev who dutifully occupy the fourth line and get usage to varying degrees depending on game situation with a sprinkle of power play time on the second unit. With eight and nine points respectively they could stand to become more of a factor but have also done enough to at least keep playing.
And then those truly buried are currently in Utah with the Grizzlies as second year pros in Ty Lewis, Josh Dickinson and Travis Barron whom have all been productive at a point per game or better. Both Lewis and Dickinson have won ECHL player of the week honors but they have seen little time in the AHL. Brandon Saigeon continues to slowly transition his way to becoming a pro prospect for the Avalanche with an uptick in production lately with 15 points. Perhaps there will be room for all four of these players in the AHL next year.
Finally, can’t forget the puck stopper in Adam Werner who has had a successful transition to North America even if his game has seen some ups and downs. He is currently out of commission with an upper body injury but has been a regular starter for the Eagles. Some inconsistencies, especially on back-to-back night or after giving up a quick goal have plagued him but Werner has put up a 15-8-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.86 goals against average and .911 save percentage. Werner has taken over the starters net and has been a big reason why the Eagles are heading toward a playoff berth.
For more on Adam Werner go HERE
Credit photo to Colorado Eagles