The 2018-19 season is over. Now is the time to take a look at some of the Colorado Avalanche prospects (Cale Makar, Conor Timmins, and Martin Kaut) and what they have been up to this year. Have some taken a step forward or backward?
The Colorado Avalanche pick in the 4th slot this year thanks to their trade with the Ottawa Senators. The Avalanche garnered eight picks in the 2019 NHL Draft. This includes five picks during the first three rounds alone (two extra thanks to Ottawa overall).
2018-19 Top 10 Colorado Avalanche Prospects
1. Cale Makar, D – University of Massachusettes (NCAA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
Drafted: 4th pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft by Colorado.
Cale Makar made a hell of a splash with UMass, winning the Hobey Baker Award for the best college player. If that was not enough, Makar made his debut for Colorado and did not look out of place. Playoff hockey is not an easy place to enter but give Makar credit. He played rather well and tallied a few points along the way. More importantly, he gained valuable experience as Colorado was inches from advancing to the Western Conference Final. Six points in ten playoff games are nothing to sneeze at.
Debate exists as to how he will ultimately fit in with Colorado next season. Eventually, Makar ends up with top-four ice time in some way, shape, or form. It becomes a question of how he gets there. Cale Makar had 49 points in 41 games at UMass and that could translate into a 40-50 point rookie campaign in Colorado if he starts well. Fortunately, Makar has that talent and potential which translates easily at the NHL level. His presence on the power play will be a huge asset along with Makar’s ability to get out of trouble. Colorado’s prospect pool only gets deeper this year and successful developments like Cale Makar only boost their rankings.
2. Martin Kaut, RW – Colorado Eagles (AHL)
Drafted: 16th pick in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft by Colorado.
The forward came over from the Czech Republic with some expectations and then exceeded them. All he did was average nearly a point every other game while adapting to the North American game. Also, Kaut played at a high level for the Colorado Eagles showing speed and an ability to pursue pucks well. Towards the end of the season, Martin Kaut looked like a player ready to make bigger jumps in 2019-20.
Again, some expectations have to be tempered a bit. Kaut showed he was a bit overwhelmed at times against better expectations. However, that had to be expected given the level of competition in the Czech Republic. Kaut could see top-six time with the Eagles out of training camp and that should boost some of his offensive numbers. The points will come soon enough.
3. Conor Timmins, D — Colorado Eagles (AHL) — Injured
Draft: 32nd overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Colorado.
Sadly, ankle and head injuries cost Conor Timmins a year of development as he sat out the 2018-19 campaign. The good news is he was skating quite a bit and it appears all signs point toward a return come the Fall. Timmins has considerable work to do but he did have 18 points in 23 playoff games in the OHL. What can he do in the AHL after a year off? That is an excellent question.
So, the defenseman is no Cale Makar. However, if Timmins can get past the concussion-like symptoms, then success is still quite possible even in 2019-20. Timmins is like a 2018 draft pick now basically in a sense. Expect a few bumps and maybe a setback or two in the AHL before Timmins starts to put it together.
4. Vladislav Kamenev, C/LW – Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Eagles (AHL)
Drafted: 42nd overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by Nashville.
Time starts to grow short on Kamenev due to shoulder injuries mostly. However, the forward does show an ability to play physical and provide secondary scoring at times. He did have five points in 23 games with the Colorado Avalanche.
His upside could still be as high as a second-line winger with power play time. Kamenev must stay healthy so he can continue to grow as a player. The forward plays the game at a physicality of a middle linebacker or almost Dustin Byfuglien at times. Now, Kamenev could play most of the year with the top club in a bottom-six role again. That would not be a bad thing as the Russian forward needs to make up for some lost time.
5. Ty Lewis, LW – Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), Colorado Eagles (AHL)
The prolific WHL scorer ran into some difficulty with the AHL Colorado affiliate and was sent down to the ECHL. He improved from there and wound up gaining some valuable playoff experience in the process. Sometimes the transition just does not go quite as smoothly. Lewis was not terrible but just not quite ready.
One of his biggest pluses for Lewis is that he is a long-term project. Aspects of his game can be worked on without worries of being labeled a bust, etc. Currently, Lewis presents the upside of a middle-six winger which is always needed in Colorado. Maybe, a better 2019-20 is in store for the former Brandon Wheat King. After all, his speed and shot are at the very least AHL, if not NHL caliber already.
6. Shane Bowers, C – Colorado Eagles (AHL), Boston University (NCAA)
Drafted: 28th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Ottawa.
Bowers regressed a bit in his last year with Boston University but showed enough potential to sign an entry-level deal with Colorado anyway. He played a few games at the end of the season for the Eagles then three more in the playoffs. His playmaking is what sets him apart from others but still may wind up being a middle-six pivot.
Nonetheless, some believe Bowers can score 15-20 goals a year in the NHL, maybe more. He possesses an above average wrist shot and again that cross-ice vision. Bowers sees quite a few plays faster than most centers his age. Colorado remains blessed with quite the core in their prospect group.
7. Sampo Ranta, LW – University of Minnesota (NCAA)
Drafted: 78th overall in the third round of the 2018 Draft by Colorado.
Ranta enjoyed playing in the middle-six for Minnesota in his first year and showed signs of future success. Also, he had 16 points in 36 games. He chipped in a few points for Finland in the Under-20 tournament as well.
The center shows the ability to work on what he is missing in his game. He excels on the man advantage and can pot some goals in spurts. That translates to an upside of maybe a second or third-line winger with a boost from the power-play. Ranta could easily gain enough strength to play well even around the 205-pound mark.
8. Igor Shvyrov, C – Colorado Eagles (AHL)
Drafted: 125th overall in the fifth round of the 2017 Draft by Colorado.
Though things did not go nearly as well as expected, Shvyrov is an extended project in the works for Colorado. Just the fact that he played in the AHL at 20 was impressive enough. So, 13 points in 57 games are not great but there were some things the pivot was working on in the offseason.
Fortunately, Shvyrov can be brought along slowly and likely becomes a decent plug as a bottom-six center. That is probably his upside and a best-case scenario for the young Russian.
9. Denis Smirnov, W – Penn State University (NCAA)
Drafted: 156th overall in the sixth round of the 2017 Draft by Colorado.
Smirnov slid back a bit production-wise with 22 points in 37 contests for Penn State. Weirdly, he has regressed every year since his freshman season. To be fair, the Russian had better linemates and is carrying more of the play. However, his finishing ability seems to have stagnated. That is a bit of a problem.
Despite all that, his decision making remained solid despite the increased level of play and pace. He expects to finish out his career at Penn State and then maybe the Colorado Eagles are next. Concern rises that Smirnov may be a fringe NHL player at this point given what has occurred the last two years. That is all moot if the winger can get back to his freshman-year form.
10. Josh Dickinson, C – Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), Colorado Eagles (AHL)
Dickinson presents a long-term project who is working on his two-way game. He had just four points in 21 games with the Eagles before being sent down to Utah. Once in Utah, he worked on getting pucks to the net and the offense picked up. Dickinson totaled 29 points in 31 contests overall for the Grizzlies.
The promising center shows lots of ability with speed, passing, and an ability to shoot the puck well. His tenacity with the puck sets him up well in the attacking zone. Finally, his upside may not be that high but a good season with Colorado could set him up for a call-up later in the year.