This is the fourth in a series of in-depth profiles covering each member of the Colorado Avalanche 2020 draft class. The entire series can be foundHERE.
No matter what happens in his professional hockey career Ryder Rolston will have the claim to fame that he was the first and (currently) only player the Avalanche have traded up to draft in the GM Joe Sakic era. As the son of former Avalanche forward Brian Rolston, who played 50 games for the team in the 1999-2000 season, it was easy to guess that Ryder was on their radar.
Selected at 139th overall in the fifth round of the 2020 draft the 6-foot-1 and 175lb right shot forward was correctly pegged as a mid-round hopeful. NHL’s Central Scouting had the American ranked at 102nd among North American skaters and Rolston was also mentioned in the 100+ range in several other publications. It took the Avalanche’s seventh round pick to move up 10 spots to make the selection.
Rolston grew up in the USA Hockey’s program over several years and was part of the famed 2018-19 US National Development Team which produced a record number of top draft picks. There he was also a teammate of fellow Avalanche prospect Drew Helleson. Rolston was more of a depth contributor as he made more of an impact on the team defensively but also scored 33 points including 20 goals in 54 games in his final season with the U18 group.
As an October 2001 birthdate Rolston was selected in the 2020 NHL entry draft just before his 19th birthday and as such arrives at the next stage of his hockey career a little later into his development. Therefore Rolston had a stop in the USHL with Waterloo in his 18 year old season after he aged out of the NTDP where he scored 33 points in 42 games before moving on to college.
Rolston continues the string of Avalanche draftees attending Notre Dame for their collegiate careers. With the departure of Cam Morrison from the over the summer the incoming freshman in Rolston keeps their Fighting Irish total at three along with defensemen Nate Clurman and Nicky Leivermann.
Thus far this season at Notre Dame Rolston has played in mostly a fourth line role with several other freshmen making up a good energy line. While he has yet to score a goal he has created his share of chances including the one seen below and has chipped in four assists in 19 games.
The all freshman "SSR" line of Landon Slaggert, Grant Silianoff and Ryder Rolston are at it again.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 15, 2020
Rolston plays with a good motor and has a high level work ethic but the two major questions facing him are his skill level and skating. He is a puck hound but will need to translate that into production at some point and the goal scoring touch remains to be seen. While Rolston has decent speed especially through the neutral zone he possesses an extremely hunched skating posture which causes him to lose power and balance quickly during shifts.
Moving forward into the future the idea is that Rolston will enjoy a lengthy NCAA career before assessing his progress and chance at receiving a professional contract from the Avalanche. The organization loves to find depth forwards from older NCAA graduates so there’s a chance Rolston could be an internal option to fulfill that need down the road once he develops into his 20s.