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Colorado Avalanche: Top Prospects Update

  1. Chris Bigras (Defenseman – Owen Sound Attack OHL):

After a stellar showing in his first NHL camp last season in which he was one of the last players cut, big things were expected from Bigras during this year’s camp. Unfortunately, things did not pan out as well this time around, with him being returned to his junior team fairly early into camp. Head coach Patrick Roy even publically stated that Bigras was not as good at camp this year. Despite this, big things were still expected from Bigras this year. As of now, it appears that Bigras took his disappointing NHL camp this season and turned it into motivation to get better. He is currently tied for fourth amongst OHL defensemen with 14 points in 15 games played. This is somewhat surprising as one of Bigras’ biggest weaknesses coming into the year was his offensive game. He already surpassed last year’s goal total (4) with 5 so far in 15 games. This is exactly what Avs management wanted to see from him. His solid play should give him an excellent opportunity to be apart of Team Canada’s world junior roster for a second consecutive year. Bigras has also been selected to be apart of the OHL team for Subway Super Series. He is slated to play in both games for the league.

  1. Conner Bleackley (Winger – Red Deer Rebels WHL):

Conner was Colorado’s first-round pick in the 2014, selected 23rd overall. He fits the mold of the type of players that have been drafted by the Avs in recent years, as he won’t be confused as an offensive dynamo but has a solid all-around game and is a leader amongst his junior team. Bleackley, much like Bigras, had a very underwhelming NHL camp. Coach Roy went as far as to say that he thought Bleackley didn’t come into camp in proper shape. After being returned, his play has been very average (12 points – only 3 goals in 15 games), which is something you don’t expect from a first-round pick. An interesting development has happened recently as it appears that Bleackley has been moved from his natural center position to a wing position. This isn’t too unexpected as the Avs are loaded at down the middle and many figured that a move to wing was inevitable. Bleackley has also been selected to represent the WHL in the Subway Super Series.

  1. Stefan Elliott (Defenseman – Lake Erie Monsters AHL):

I can’t believe I’m still calling Stefan Elliott a prospect but for the 23-year-old, that is still reality. Once considered a top-50 prospect in the NHL, Elliot has now been relegated to AHL duty. He has always possessed an elite level offensive game from the back end, but he has never been physical enough to survive the NHL game. However, to his credit, he has had a great start to this season offensively speaking (8 points with 4 goals). He currently leads the Monsters in goals and sits tied for sixth in scoring for AHL defensemen. If injuries start to arise in Colorado, I expect he’ll get one more chance to prove he can bring his style of game to the NHL. If he doesn’t get another shot, I’d pencil him in as a potential trade candidate as a possible piece of a package deal.

  1. Duncan Siemens (Defenseman – Lake Erie Monsters AHL)

Siemens seems to be finally starting to turn the corner in his career. As a high first-round pick (11th overall in 2011), much was expected from him, but he has progressed at a much slower rate than expected. While he had an excellent training camp with the Avalanche this year and has continued to play solid hockey for Lake Erie, it hasn’t been quite enough. Siemens is never going to be a high-end scoring defenseman (he only has 2 assists in 10 games played this season), but he brings a unique edge of toughness. He is a rough customer no doubt. His best NHL comparison at the moment may be former Avs great Adam Foote. It would be best for Siemens to get a full year in the AHL this season, but don’t rule out a potential call-up as the Avs could use a tough guy on their back end.

  1. Joey Hishon (Center – Lake Erie Monsters AHL)

Surprise, surprise. Hishon started the year off with an injury, albeit a minor one, but that seems to be the way his career has gone. He missed the first two games of the AHL season with a minor tweak, but this injury seemed to force him off his game a bit. This is supposed to be the year for Hishon to prove he can potentially play at the next level, and so far, he has been rather underwhelming with only 4 points in 8 games. Although, it does seem he might be rounding out into shape as he has 4 points in his last 3 games. It’s possible that he was just a little out of sync to begin the year coming off the injury. I would be surprised not to see Hishon at some point this season with the Avs, as they really need to figure out if he is capable of bringing his game to the next level.

A few of the other early season surprises for Colorado prospects include:

Colin Smith – leads Lake Erie with 9 points in 10 games.

Calvin Pickard – has already gotten into a couple games with the Avs and currently has a .925 save percentage in 7 games with Lake Erie.

Julien Nantel – a left winger in the QMJHL who has 13 points in 14 games.

Alexis Pepin – another winger in the QMJHL with 7 points in 8 games after coming off an injury to start the year.

Mason Geertsen – has 10 points in 15 games in the WHL as a defenseman who is known as a defense-first type of player.

Spencer Martin – a goaltender in the OHL who has posted a .923 save percentage in his 12 games so far this season.

Overall, the Colorado Avalanche do lack the top-end prospects in their current arsenal, but they do have a bunch of players that have the potential to carve out NHL careers for themselves. It’s nice to see a large number of Avs prospects performing at a high level in the early parts of this season.

Thank you for reading.

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