Hockey season is officially back, as the Avs Rookie team hit the ice on Saturday evening to take on the San Jose Sharks rookies. Although there were plenty of fine moments and performances, the Avs were unable to pull out the victory, losing by a score of 7-4.
How did the players perform? Let’s find out…
Josh Anderson (D) – Arguably the most questionable Avs pick in the last few years, Anderson did not get his camp off to a great start, as he was on the ice for a handful of the goals against tonight. He was noticeably lost on the Sharks sixth goal, as he was in front of the net spinning around in circles trying to find the puck when it was put in the back of the net.
Travis Barron (C) – Barron had a really strong tournament last year before getting injured in the final game. Tonight, he was a little less noticeable, but he was also getting moved around a lot due to injuries up front. As a 19-year-old, you hope that his offense starts to develop more this season.
Chris Bigras (C) – What a rollercoaster of a game for him. He showed flashes of brilliance, with his speed in transition and adding a few assists. He also had big time blunders, with a turnover leading to the first goal against, and getting out-muscled off the puck moments before the Sharks game winning goal. This is a big training camp for him, as the team expects him to make the leap as a 3rd-year pro, so gaining some momentum in this tournament could be big for him.
J.T. Compher (B) – He got the Avs on the board early in the first with a nice goal from his knees in the slot. The Avs PP didn’t look bad, but he doesn’t get a lot of touches as the bumper in the middle of the ice. He was relatively quiet the last two periods, outside of a few skirmishes around the net.
A.J. Greer (B) – Greer tried to set the tone for the team on the opening shift, laying a huge open ice hit at the Sharks blueline. Unfortunately, he got jumped soon after and had to sit in the box for five minutes. He was a terror in front of the net on a 2nd-period power play, and that’s how he’s going to make a name for himself in the NHL.
Tyson Jost (B+) – While he was held off the scoreboard, it was clear that Jost was the most talented player on the ice. He made a few nice setups that just didn’t lead to goals, including a beautiful backhand saucer to Hugo Roy in the second period that was stopped by the Sharks netminder. He also was dominant in the faceoff circle, which was something he was known for at North Dakota.
Alexander Kerfoot (B+) – For most Avs fans, this was probably their first look at Kerfoot. He did not disappoint. While he’s not big, he showed well defensively tonight, and his backhand feed to Compher for the opening goal was a thing of beauty. His biggest blunder came on a clean faceoff loss just seconds before the Sharks scored their fourth goal. The offensive talent appears to be there, so if he can show well defensively, he has a chance to crack the lineup on opening night.
Francis Leclerc (F) – It’s tough for any goaltender that has to enter a game halfway through, but Leclerc did not do himself any favors tonight. He was never able to get into a rhythm, and allowed a goal on the first rush towards his net. His third period was very ugly, as he allowed four goals in a short period of time. It would be tough to imagine him getting more minutes in this tournament with the other goalies the Avs brought.
Ty Lewis (B-) – Lewis, like Leclerc, is on an amateur tryout, and when Julien Nantel left with an injury, he found himself on the top line and showed pretty well. As a smaller skilled player, he was able to keep up with Kerfoot and Compher and not look out of place. A strong tournament may help earn him an entry level contract.
Anton Lindholm (B+) – Mr. Lindholm is a coaches dream. He’s quiet, steady, and has shown he can be very effective. He was certainly the most polished defenseman in the Avs lineup tonight, and only managed to be on the ice for one of the seven goals against.
Spencer Martin (D) – After being named to the AHL All Star team last year, Martin’s game took a big dip as the Rampage fell apart to end the year. He’ll likely be their starter this season, but had a tough go of it in his 30 minutes tonight. The opening goal was a shot from a poor angle that beat him far side, and the second goal beat him five hole as he was moving across the ice. It was a little surprising to see him get pulled in the second, particularly as it came right after his best save of the night, as he went post to post to rob a pinching defenseman.
Nicolas Meloche (A-) – Perhaps the most impressive day for Meloche at an Avs camp came tonight, as he was arguably their best defenseman. Meloche will be turning pro this year, and showed lots of poise tonight, as well as more physicality, which we haven’t seen as much in his first two training camps with the Avs. His goal in the second period showed off his offensive chops as well. A strong start for a defenseman trying to make an impression.
Andrei Mironov (C+) – Folks expecting much offense from Mironov will be very disappointed, but they should expect to see solid defensive play and perhaps more importantly, physicality. Mironov had a reputation in Russia for his lower open ice hip checks, and he threw one this evening in the second period to send a Sharks forward head over their heels. This is Mironov’s first year on North American ice, so there may be some adjustment before he’s truly comfortable.
Julien Nantel (INC) – Poor Nantel was given a great chance, starting the game on the top line, but left after only a few shifts with an injury and never returned.
Gustav Olhaver (C) – The big Swede disappeared back to Sweden last season, and despite not being a very talented player, managed to score a goal for the second straight year in this tournament. This one required a little bit more skill, as he let a quick wrister from the slot go and managed to beat the goalie.
Hugo Roy (B-) – Another amateur tryout who showed pretty well for the Avs. He planted himself in front of the net to score the third goal of the game for the Avs. Although he’s an older prospect, his offensive numbers skyrocketed in the QMJHL last year, and the Avs may see him as a potential organization depth player for them down the line.
Shawn St. Amant (A) – Possibly the biggest surprise from last years rookie tournament, St. Amant showed some offensive flair tonight, creating two goals with beautiful assists. He’s more of a defensive specialist, but the stickhandling work prior to the fourth Avs goal was nice to see. He could have had an even better evening if he had buried his breakaway in the second period.
Ben Storm (C) – The big man who is trying to earn himself a professional contract did alright for himself tonight. There isn’t going to be any offense from him at any level, but he played physical and that may earn him a spot on the Eagles this year.
Conor Timmins (D) – Timmins had a rough go of it in the defensive end of the ice, falling over moments before the second Sharks goal, and getting caught in no mans land on the final goal against. He did show himself well offensively, and that’s something he has that you hope to see grow.
Dominic Toninato (C) – The Avs other big college free agent pickup was much quieter this evening. Billed as a defensive specialist, he didn’t show much offense this evening, including missing a chance at a goal around the net in the second period. With the camera angles being limited on the feed, it’s tougher to get an idea of his work defensively, and that’s the part of his game that will earn him some minutes in the NHL.
The Avs rookie tournament continues on Monday night, when they take on the Arizona Coyotes rookie team. The game starts at 8 PM MST, and will be streamed on NHL.com.