The most impressive player on the ice at Friday's start of Avalanche rookie camp? An easy call.
It was Tyson Jost, who not only dazzled on the ice but cut an impressive figure in the dressing room as well. It looked like Jost swallowed a weight room this summer. Shoulders that looked like miniature cannon balls bulged through an undershirt, atop similarly jacked biceps and triceps.
It was the lower body that Jost spent the most time working on over the summer, however, and what seemingly has made the most noticeable difference to his game. Strengthening his legs to provide more explosive quickness on skates was Jost's main goal, and the former North Dakota product and 2016 first-round Avs draftee looked faster than anyone at Family Sports Center Friday.
"In the off-ice testing, my vertical jump was a lot higher than it was than at the beginning of the ice," Jost said.
Enough to dunk a basketball? No. Jost is still the same 5-foot-11 he was at the end of last season, in which he played six games for the Avs after leaving North Dakota a year early. In hoops parlance, however, Jost was practically jumping out of the gym in the rookie session that lasted about two hours, before they all boarded a plane for San Jose, Calif., where they will spend until Tuesday playing a round-robin tournament against rookies from the Sharks, Coyotes and Ducks.
"I just wanted to get more explosive and faster on the ice. I just did a lot of explosive events, pushing weights quick, things like that," said Jost, who scored one goal in the six games with Colorado. "I really think it translated. I also just spent a lot of time this summer on my skating."
For the past four years, Jost has employed the services of power-skating coaches Evan Marble and Dean Caban at the Kelowna, B.C.-based Dynamic Edge Skating.
"They've been outstanding," he said. "They spent a lot of time with me and they really break down my skating. The work they did with me this summer was spectacular, and I owe a lot of credit to them for how I've improved this offseason."
Jost, who can play center or wing, scored a couple of goals in scrimmages and was just too quick for most defenders in open-ice situations. The added muscle to all body areas seemed to give him more confidence in the tough areas in front of the net and corners.
If Jost does not make the Avalanche out of camp, he would play with San Antonio in the AHL. While the chance of him not making it would seemingly be out of the question, Jost knows he's still just 19, with just the six games of NHL experience.
"Obviously, I want to be a full-time Avalanche. That's my goal and that's why I left college early," he said. "To leave a program like North Dakota, it's tough to do. But I did that because I thought I had a chance of playing with the Avalanche. It was unbelievable for me, just to be able to play those six games at the end of the year, to get a taste of what the NHL's like; what the pace, the speed and the size of the guys are like. I thought that was big for my offseason, because I could take what I learned in those six games and bring them to the summer, to work on things that I needed to improve on, and it also kind of gave me the clarification that I can play in this league."