IRVINE, Calif. – Nobody needs to tell Shane Bowers “It’s a business.”
Drafted into the NHL at age 17, Bowers had his rights traded before he got to play with that team – the Ottawa Senators – at age 18.
“Well, it’s not like I played for the team, so it’s not like I had to move houses and I (didn’t have my) own family, or anything like that. But it was definitely a different experience. It’s just weird,” Bowers said Sunday afternoon here at the Great Park Fivepoint Arena, where he and the rest of his fellow Colorado Avalanche prospects fell 6-1 to the Los Angeles Kings. “I was at their development camp, and two months later, or whatever it was, I was traded. I took my fair share of chirps from my teammates. They were calling me “Suitcase” and things like that.”
What made the inclusion of Bowers so strange in the Nov. 5, 2017, blockbuster trade between the Avs, Senators and Nashville Predators, is that he was the Senators’ first-round selection that year. Ottawa took Bowers with the 28th overall pick, and seemed to be very happy he had lasted so long in the first round.
Bowers shook hands with Senators coach Guy Boucher, GM Pierre Dorion and seemed ticketed to a future not far from his boyhood home of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Suddenly, they were saying “See ya, kid.”
Two years later, here Bowers is, a signed professional with the Avalanche. This summer, he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Avalanche, which included a $92,500 signing bonus. Has he treated himself to any opulent purchase yet?
“It’s funny, you know, you don’t really ever see that type of money before. You get your signing bonus, and it’s exciting. You want to buy stuff, but that money definitely doesn’t last forever,” Bowers said. “I haven’t really spent it. I wanted to, but I never really pulled the trigger. Maybe wait, buy a car or something, when the time comes.”
Bowers, 20, probably will call Loveland his home for much, if not all, of this coming season. He only has eight total games of pro hockey experience, including four postseason games, with the Eagles from last season. Bowers elected to turn pro last spring when his Boston University Terriers’ season was over. He spent two years at BU, posting 28 goals and 53 points in 77 games.
His stated goal is to make the Avs out of training camp, but you have to say that as a prospect. He knows the Avs are going to want to see him better develop with the Eagles, who figure to give him a lot more ice time than he might see with the Avs.
Bowers seems to have made a very solid impression on Avalanche brass so far through his first camp with Colorado. He scored a goal in the Avs’ 5-2 win over Vegas in a Rookie Showcase game Saturday, and was one of the few forwards who did much of anything in Sunday’s lopsided loss to the Kings. Bowers skates well, with a wide stance and good balance, and goes hard to the net.
Greg Cronin, who is coaching the bench in these showcase games, will no doubt play him a lot with the Eagles. Not known as a man who dishes out praise too easily, Cronin had good words for Bowers’ showing so far.
“Well, his skating sticks out,” Cronin said. “He’s real visible. Anyone can walk into an arena and watch him skate, and he stands out. That’s what your eyes get glued to, is the speed. I liked the way he played the game when we were losing by several goals. He was competing, and you can tell he’s got a lot of pride and is self-motivated. He’s going to be a work in progress in terms of what he translates into in the organization, but certainly, when you have a guy who can skate like that, in a league that’s now celebrating speed, he’s going to have an impact.”
Bowers did not get his name on the score sheet in Sunday’s contest, but he created some chances with the puck.
Despite not having the foggiest idea he would be a member of the Avalanche two years ago, he now says “I’m happy to be here. I’m excited for the future here.”
Here’s postgame Cronin:
NOTES AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS
- Trent Miner played the whole game and allowed the six goals. So, while it wasn’t a great day for the Vancouver Giants’ goalie, he was victimized on some good tips and screens.
- Among those prospects who did not play included Conor Timmins and Martin Kaut. There is nothing wrong with Timmins. He is expected to play Tuesday in the tournament wrapup, along with Kaut.
- Bo Byram and Kevin Davis were paired on the top-two defensively. Byram had some good moments with the puck, but he fished a couple of pucks out of the net while on the ice.
- I bumped into Avs coach Jared Bednar here. He raved about Byram’s performance from the Saturday game, saying he “was the best player on the ice.” In talking about the coming season, Bednar said he really feels like the team’s forward core is better than last year’s club; Deeper, more talented.
- Alex Beaucage scored the lone goal for the Avs, a rebound putback in front of the net in the first period.
- What do I think the situation with Mikko Rantanen is at the moment? I think it may go beyond the start of training camp. Some of why I think that is, everybody is still waiting around to see what the “other guy” gets, in regard to all those other unsigned restricted free agents around the league. But, I will say this: I think there is little to no chance this thing will drag on past the start of the regular season.
- The Avs will hold a practice here Monday morning. They’ll play Tuesday, and there will be an off day Wednesday. Thursday, the veterans report for physicals.