Keeping up with Colorado Avalanche prospects for the 2020-21 season is going to be more challenging than ever with the uncertainty of return to sports still dictating many of their situations. As the page turns toward the new season there have been initial decisions made for many players and we’ll keep an eye on the rest to provide updates when available. As such this weekly article will certainly not publish on that same schedule but instead when enough news warrants it.
The headliner in overseas action is Martin Kaut after Joe Sakic finally relented and agreed to allow him to play for his old club HC Dynamo Pardubice in the Czech Extraliga. Pressure from noticing a mass exodus to Europe of NHL contracted players and personal pleas on Kaut’s behalf from Petr Nedved and Milan Hejduk did the trick as Kaut was finally loaned to play for the club for two months to start and then will reassess the NHL situation at that time. Kaut participated in Pardubice’s final exhibition game where he recorded an assist, which was an even strength primary in typical Kaut fashion. The season kicks off for real on Friday, September 18th.
Martin Kaut začne novou sezonu v dresu pardubického Dynama! A nastoupí už dnes v odvetě finále Generali Česká Cupu proti @hcocelaricz více informací ➡ https://t.co/Wmsr0MQaWD pic.twitter.com/fkSEKqmOpc
— HC DYNAMO PARDUBICE (@HCPCE) September 12, 2020
Nikolai Kovalenko is the only Avalanche prospect who has already seen regular season action as he chipped in an assist in his second game of the season for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He seems to still hold down his usual role of a energy type bottom six forward for the club.
Ak Bars Kazan is also underway but Danil Zhuravlyov has been sidelined by a broken arm he suffered in their first preseason game but he should return in a couple months.
Shamil Shmakov is back in the motherland following his one year sojourn in North America. He is listed as on the roster for Toros Neftekamsk, which is a VHL team in Russia, but has yet to dress for any contest. Their season began on Sunday, September 13th.
The situation is less definitive for Adam Werner as he is training back home in Sweden but had yet to officially link up with a team despite a couple rumors of such. The aim is for a place in the Allsvenskan, which is the second division in Sweden, because they are more amenable to releasing players back to North America than the SHL. Their season begins on Saturday, October 3rd so there is still time to sort out the situation for Werner. Update: Werner has now indeed been loaned to Vita Hasten until NHL training camp.
There’s also a hot rumor out of Sweden that Bowen Byram is looking for a home in the Allsvenskan for a couple months in the fall.
Linus Högberg nästa man in. Fjärde NHL-lånet i Hästen, som därmed har stängd butik för NHL-lån. ELLER?
Kan man verkligen hålla sig? Riktigt fina spelare cirkulerar. Senaste jag hörde på marknaden är Bowen Byram, Carl-Johan Lerby och William Lagesson. https://t.co/WwW7DcMscw
— Johan Svensson (@MrMadhawk) September 17, 2020
Despite signing his ELC with the Avalanche in the spring Justus Annunen is still in Finland and has a permanent spot on the team in Kärpät where he played last season. Unfortunately Annunen has been dealing with an injury during preseason and has not played in a game but he has some time to get back as the regular season does not begin until Thursday, October 1st.
The QMJHL is ahead of the curve on this side of the pond with a confirmed schedule and plan. Alex Beaucage has already played in a preseason contest ahead of the regular season start on Friday, October 2nd for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. They will play a 60 game regular season which will conclude on April 3rd.
It is a waiting game for everyone else in the CHL who might see their seasons begin by December. This also applies to western league prospects Sasha Mutala and Luka Burzan.
Trent Miner, also waiting for the WHL to commence, does have a gig lined up in his hometown alongside Ty Lewis in the meantime. Both are helping Lewis’ father coach youth hockey.
The U 15 AA Wheat Kings are very pleased to announce that Trent Miner as our goaltending coach until he returns to the Vancouver Giants (WHL) Trent is also a head instructor at Westman Elite Goaltending School and will be huge help in developing our goaltenders this season.
— Dave Lewis (@lewisdaveTHF) September 8, 2020
The NCAA is in the same boat as many student-athletes are back on campus but are just just working out and practicing in hopes for the collegiate season to start with the current projection of around the end of 2020.
One prospect who has taken advantage of the latest concession by the NCAA to allow for play in Junior A without losing their college eligibility is Matt Stienburg. He recently agreed to join the West Kelowna Warriors in the BCHL. While his rights are held in the QMJHL and would lend to quicker game action, Stienburg would have to give up ever returning to Cornell if he went that route. The BCHL is also aiming for a December 1st start date.
NEWS: The Warriors are excited to announce the commitment of Colorado Avalanche Prospect F Matthew Stienburg. Stienburg spent the past season with Cornell University (NCAA).
— West Kelowna Warriors (@BCHLWarriors) September 12, 2020
For now the other NCAA Avalanche prospects Alex Newhook, Drew Helleson, Tyler Weiss, Sampo Ranta, Nicky Leivermann and Nate Clurman seem content to stay put at their respective schools and wait for more information. As is the waiting game is same situation for all other NHL contracted pro prospects.