The Colorado Avalanche are just now restocking prospects into their organization. Recent drafts have been above average for the team. The fairly new Director of Amateur Scouting Alan Hepple has done an admirable job since taking the reigns. Hepple and his team of scouts are responsible for finding these players, and ultimately, that hidden gem.
Having had so much success with recent draft selections, most of the Avs talented youngsters have just recently made the jump to pro hockey. With the added emphasis on getting younger and faster, expect that trend to continue with the Avalanche.
Drafting is how you build your team and keep it competitive, your franchise can turn around with just one pick.
Below is a list of the Avalanche top four prospects as of 2017.
#1 – Tyson Jost
Jonathan Toews is one of, if not the very best captain in the NHL. He is also Tyson Jost’s biggest role model when it comes to hockey players. Jost has been compared to Toews by almost everyone in the hockey world. The kid just has future captain written all over him. Much like Toews, Jost has elite skill to go with his leadership.
Before being drafted in 2016 at 10th overall, Jost captained the Penticton Vees and amassed 104 points in just 48 games. He then went on to captain Team Canada at the U-18 World Junior Championship, notching 15 points in 7 games.
After hearing his name called by the Avs in 2016, Jost committed to the University of North Dakota. He would only need one year to prove he was NHL ready. As a Freshman, Jost collected 35 points in 33 games.
Jost joined the Avs late in the season, scoring his first NHL goal against none other than Central Division rivals Minnesota Wild. He is virtually guaranteed a spot on the opening night roster, and deservedly so. Jost is the organization’s number one prospect.
#2 – Cale Makar
Cale Makar is the Avs most recent first round pick, having grabbed him 4th overall at the 2017 NHL Draft.
Being likened to Erik Karlsson is something scouts have mentioned though fans should not expect. If Makar does end up at that Karlsson level, it could turn everything around for the Avs future. But like I said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Born in Calgary, Makar was an absolute force last year with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). He topped all defenseman in scoring, finishing sixth overall with 75 points (24 goals, 51 assists) in 54 games.
The Bandits went on to win the AJHL championship, with Makar named playoff MVP.
It was a goal of mine to be in the first round and one of the high-caliber defensemen in this year’s draft, but I would have never thought of fourth overall,” Makar, the highest-ranked draft-eligible North American defenseman, said in a phone interview. “It’s pretty special. I’m very humbled. But the way I look at it, it’s just a number and it’s all about what you do after.
It’s no secret that the Avs need all the help they can get defensively, so adding the skill of Makar to the mix was an easy choice. Makar made history and is now the highest AJHL player to ever be selected in the NHL Draft.
Makar will now represent UMass Amherst of the NCAA starting in 2017.
#3 – JT Compher
JT Compher was a key acquisition in the trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres. Drafted in the second round at 35th overall, Compher was always a top prospect.
Before entering his first professional season last year with the San Antonio Rampage, Compher captained the University of Michigan in 2015-16 piling up 63 points in 38 games. He showed no signs of needing to adjust his game in the AHL, having picked up where he left off in College. Compher tallied 30 points in 41 AHL games before ending the season with the Avalanche.
A huge asset, especially for the Avalanche, is Compher’s right-hand shot. They are scarce in Denver. Though now in Compher, they have one who can play center or the right-wing, and versatility is huge for today’s game.
Expect Compher to make the Avs opening night lineup just like Jost, and also look for him representing Team USA, as he has done so at every level in international hockey.
#4 – AJ Greer
Another extension of the O’Reilly trade, Greer was drafted in 2015 by the Avalanche after trading down from pick number 31 to 39, previously owned by the San Jose Sharks. The Avs also received a 2016 second round pick and a sixth round pick in 2017.
Greer was originally playing at Boston University but went on to play in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and fellow Avalanche prospects JC Beaudin and Julien Nantel in 2015-16. Greer played an integral part in the Huskies playoff run, helping the team become QMJHL Champions.
Greer served as Alternate Captain for the Huskies and put up tremendous numbers. In 33 regular season games, he grabbed 27 points, and on route to the Championship, Greer tore it up with 22 points in 20 games.
The big 6’3? Greer then set his sights on becoming pro. He joined Colorado’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio, impressing many with his 38 points in 63 games. He enjoyed great chemistry playing alongside Compher, and will be looking to recreate that when training camp comes around to ensure he also has a spot come opening night.
Chris Bigras, JC Beaudin, Nicolas Meloche, Conor Timmins.