Just because an organization has a great roster to compete for a Stanley Cup, doesn’t mean they have to have a depleted prospect pool. As for the Colorado Avalanche, that is not the case. Joe Sakic has managed to build a championship-caliber team while maintaining a group youth strong enough to help the current team in the future. I am going to be ranking every prospect in the system, from worst to best. This specific article will be ranking prospects 10-18.
To qualify as a prospect on this list, the player must have under 25 regular season games of NHL experience and be under 25 years of age.
NOTE: The players I compare the prospects to are stylistic comparisons, and not meant to be viewed as players that the prospects could become.
18. C Nils Åman
A hard worker with a small offensive flare. He became a full-time SHLer after being drafted by the Avalanche 167th overall in 2020. Drafted as a double-overager, he absolutely dominated the J20 Nationell with 47 points in 30 games. He plays physically and defensively at a high degree. The GM of Leksands IF, Thomas Johansson, said himself that Åman is a “true center” with “good hockey sense” and “works hard both ways”. If he were to make it to the NHL, he could be a good 4th line centre. Åman reminds me of Scott Laughton. He will look to improve in the SHL next season, hopefully topping his 10 points in 51 games from last season.
17. RW Nikolai Kovalenko
The son of former Avalance, Andrei Kovalenko, Nikolai has plenty of pro experience under his belt. Originally playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Kovalenko had an impressive draft year back in 2017-18, with 31 points in 33 games for their junior club. This earned him the honor of being selected 171st overall by Colorado. After that, he was a full-time KHLer and has been ever since. He has recently put up 11 points through 41 games at that level, which is not all that impressive. Kovalenko does not play a very flashy game but just plays the game well. He can pass, he can shoot, and he can play physical. Kovalenko does not necessarily have one special skill, as he is an all-around player. We can draw similarities to Brendan Gallagher when watching Kovalenko. He is now on Ak Bars Kazan where he will look to get more ice-time for the 2021-22 season.
16. LW Tyler Weiss
After being selected 109th overall by the Avs in 2018, Weiss started his college career the following year, being committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He currently weighs just 154 pounds, but he has a ton of skill. He is gifted with great puck control, and can generate offence in many ways through his passing and shooting. He is willing to get into scrums, which is impressive considering his weight. Defensively, he tries, but his size disables him from being very effective. As a junior at 21, Weiss put up 23 points in 26 games, along with 36 penalty minutes. He is more a playmaker than anything else, and draws some similarity to Martin St. Louis. Weiss will finish up his 4-year tenure in the NCAA next season, where he will try to earn himself an ELC.
15. C Shane Bowers
What was once a player with a lot of hype has turned into a player that is questioned to even make it to the show. That’s the case with Bowers. Originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators 28th overall in 2017, he was traded to the Avalanche in the trade that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa. As an 18-year-old, he was committed to Boston University where he broke out to the tune of 32 points in 40 games. That was the peak of his hype, as he would regress to 21 points in 37 games the following season. He signed his ELC and impressed in the AHL as a 20-year-old however, putting up 27 points in 48 games as an Eagle. He fell of heavily this past season however, posting an abysmal 9 points in 28 games. Bowers is now 22 and is struggling in the AHL. It is worth noting that he is a good defensive forward, so the points do not tell the whole story. He could be a solid, speedy defensive 3C in the future, with 15-goal potential. He is an Anthony Cirelli-type player.
14. C Jean-Luc Foudy
The younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Liam Foudy finds himself at number 12 on the list. Foudy put up 43 points in 59 games in his draft year with the Windsor Spitfires, after putting up 49 points in 63 games the season before. He went from a first-round projection to falling to 75th overall. Foudy is an extremely raw player. His skating was considered by some scouts to be the best in the entire 2020 class. As it stands right now, he is a great playmaker, but needs to work on his shot if he wants to be an NHLer one day. Some say that Foudy plays better as a winger rather than his natural position of being a centre. His willingness put himself into vulnerable positions for the sake of creating offence has also been questioned. His physicality could be worked on as well. Consistency has also been an issue of his for a while. His ceiling is high, but his floor is very low. He can be compared to Kasperi Kapanen. After scoring 14 points in 34 games with the Eagles last season, he will look to play in the OHL again next season.
13. G Trent Miner
There is a lot to like about Miner’s game. Drafted 202nd overall in the 2019 draft, the Souris, MB native was considered a draft steal when he was selected by Colorado. Multiple hockey scouting outlets had Miner in their top 100 for the draft, and even NHLCS had him ranked as the 6th best goalie in the class. This was deserved after 32 games where he sported a .924 SV% and a 1.98 GAA in his draft year. He recently played 6 games with the Eagles this past season, where he put up a .903 SV% and 2.86 GAA. His hockey IQ is high; he is a goalie that doesn’t need to make flashy saves to be effective, because he is already in position most of the time. His one and only concern is his size, as he stands at just 6’1 which is small for a goaltender. He plays a similar game to Juuse Saros, another small goalie that doesn’t let his size stop him from playing at an elite level. The best case for Miner in the future is that he becomes a tandem starter, perhaps a reliable backup for another goalie later to come on this list.
12. C Colby Ambrosio
Committed to Boston College like a couple players later to come on this list, Ambrosio is an undersized forward that is dynamic at both ends of the ice. Standing at just 5’9 and 169 pounds, he doesn’t let his size deceive him. He accumulated 50 points through 48 games in the USHL with the Tri-City Storm in his draft year in 2018-19, then was taken 118th overall. This was an increase of 0.62 points-per-game compared to his season prior. His first season in the NCAA saw him have 15 points in 24 games, which is a good start. Ambrosio has wheels for feet at both ends of the ice, and a never-ending motor. He can swerve around defenders with or without the puck. When Ambrosio is one the ice, he is the one leading the play in the offensive zone, as he has the ability to read the play very well. His shot is lethal, and he likes to shoot a lot, which is a perfect fit for the Avalanche system. He plays a very tenacious defensive game as well, using his stick to disrupt plays. His size is the only issue for him right now, but it doesn’t seem to effect his play that much. He looks like he models his game after Brayden Point.
11. LD Daniil Zhuravlyov
At just 21 years of age, the Russian d-man has already become a regular in the KHL, playing about 15 minutes a night. He put up 13 points in 38 games, which is extremely impressive for the amount of ice time he gets, along with the KHL being one of the top men’s leagues in the world. He is a stay-at-home defender for the most part, that can chip in offensively when needed. He is a fantastic skater and an excellent passer. Zhuravlyov is just a very reliable player that is almost a sure bet to become a 3rd pairing defender in the future. He rarely ever makes mistakes in the defensive zone, Mike Reilly is a similar player to him. This was a great pick by Sakic, as he was drafted all the way down in the 5th round back in 2018, 146th overall.
10. RW Alex Beaucage
The Victoriaville Tigres product recently turned 20 years old, and has dominated the QMJHL. While still being with the Tigres, Beaucage has played the majority of his major junior career with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He has an impressive amount of team hardware already: he is a 2-time QMJHL Champion–with two different teams, mind you–and has a Memorial Cup. He had 25 points in 16 games with the Tigres en route to his second Q title. His talent stems from his offensive capabilities, where he has a great release on all types of shots (snap, wrist, slap). It’s more his accuracy than the power that makes his shot impressive. Some scouts are calling him a power forward, and with a 6’1 frame at 192 pounds, he could be that. He has great puck control which is key to being a good net-front presence. He is not the fastest skater, and will use his body more than his speed to get to a loose puck. His game reminds me of Brayden Schenn. Beaucage sign a 3-year ELC back in late May, so we could see some pro action coming soon for the 78th overall pick in 2019.
The final part, Volume III, is coming soon. Prospects ranked 1-9 will be there, don’t miss it.