A total of 19 different Colorado Eagles players made an appearance on the Avalanche roster and/or taxi squad this season. Many are wondering why Shane Bowers wasn’t one of them.
Where is he in his development? Why wasn’t he called up?
The answer is simple.
Maybe he just isn’t ready.
“I think people have to be patient with him,” Eagles head coach Greg Cronin told Colorado Hockey Now.
As Avs head coach Jared Bednar would say, it’s about winning; doesn’t matter where you drafted—something he said in reference to Martin Kaut’s just OK performance during his most recent call up.
Before the season started, coach Bednar mentioned Bowers by name on a number of occasions as a guy that stood out to him during training camp in January. The thought among fans was there was a chance he’d be an option for the Avalanche at some point in the season. That clearly wasn’t the case, however.
And as a former first-round pick, many assume Shane Bowers should already be NHL-ready. Bowers, after all, will be turning 22 this summer and is wrapping up his second “full” pro season in the AHL with the Eagles—though he’s played just 80 games in the pro ranks.
Bowers is still young, however, and there is some work that still needs to be done for the young Avs prospect.
“Physically, he needs to beef up, and that’s going to translate into being a more powerful skater and a more reliable puck battler in one-on-one battles,” Cronin continued. “That’s going to be his challenge.”
Bowers has the length at 6-foot-2. Like Cronin said, though, it wouldn’t hurt for him to beef up a bit, as the 21-year-old forward weighs in at roughly 180 pounds.
Another factor that’s perhaps delayed his development is the fact that Bowers moved positions. He was drafted 28th overall in 2017 as a center. Shortly after he arrived in Colorado, coach Cronin moved him to the wing, a position he’s now been playing for much of his pro career.
In his first full season in the AHL last year, Bowers showed that he could be an above average player. He scored 10 goals and 27 points in 48 games.
“I thought Shane made large strides last year throughout the year before we got the season cut off because of COVID,” Cronin said. “But around that time—February and early March—he evolved into an interesting prospect because he has a good shot, he’s got good length, he can skate.
“We are all excited to see him build on that.”
I think most would agree, however, it’s been a slower roll for Shane Bowers this season. The Eagles forward finished the regular season with just seven goals and nine points in 28 games.
“I think there was a little bit of step backward this year, a sophomore slump, or whatever you want to call it,” Cronin added. “He’s kind of getting back on that path again…he’s [been more] visible and he was skating.”
The good news is the Avs have so much depth already, and it’s bursting at the seams with young talented forwards. They can afford to take their time with Shane Bowers.
And more importantly, Shane Bowers can afford to take his time with his own development. Like Cronin said, just have to be patient.