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Bednar, Avs want to see more from Alex Newhook

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Alex Newhook

Disappointment might not be the right word for it, but Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar has made it clear that he expects to see a lot more from his top forward prospect, Alex Newhook.

Newhook was expected to compete and push for a spot on the team’s second line ahead of training camp, and now with just a week to go before opening night on Oct. 13, it seems all but confirmed that the more veteran Val Nichushkin has already won that spot on the Avs second-line wing.

“I’d say just OK,” Bednar said of Newhook ahead of the team’s third pre-season game on Monday night. “He hasn’t stood out in a big way yet. I think we’ve had some guys that have played really well, but I think he’s a guy that I’ve had a conversation about starting to ramp it up…he’s had a slow start to the camp.”

While Bednar did say he has seen some improvement in Newhook’s game from the rookie camp in Arizona in early September to now, he made it clear that he expects a lot more from the 20-year-old center.

When I spoke with Bednar before Day 1 of training camp, I had asked if Alex Newhook is a guy he could see pushing for a spot to fill that hole on the second-line left by Brandon Saad’s departure. Then, it certainly sounded like he’d be given every opportunity to fill that role.

“I want to give him some opportunities to play in the top-six, to play with guys that can produce offense, and it’ll be up to him if he makes the most of his opportunities,” he said.

So far, it doesn’t seem like he’s met Bednar’s standards this preseason. Not yet at least. Newhook did, however, rebound from his coach’s comments before the game and ending up scoring the lone goal for Colorado in its 3-1 loss to Minnesota‘s veteran lineup.

“I liked him,” Bednar said after the loss. “He was one of our top forwards for sure. He was involved in the game, he was competitive, on pucks…Newy was leading the way.”

Betting with the Barbers!

Long-term, Alex Newhook is the guy the Avalanche see in their top-six, but it’s important to remember that it takes time to develop, and just because he was rushed into the NHL last year and performed decently, it doesn’t guarantee him a spot on this year’s lineup.

“With some of those young guys, you have to be patient with them and you have to let them grow and play in some of those roles and see if they succeed,” Bednar added of Newhook. “If they do, they can stay in those positions. If they don’t, we’ll likely have to turn the page briefly and go with someone else.”

It seems like a lock that Alex Newhook makes Colorado’s opening night roster, though stranger things have happened. On Monday morning, Bednar said time is running out for a number of guys and more cuts are looming, as the team must basically halve its roster in the next week leading up to opening night.

Bednar added that “tough decisions” are coming and that he, Joe Sakic, Chris MacFarland and Craig Billington meet after practices and games to discuss these roster decisions. There’s no doubt that those four have discussed Newhook’s status.

Do I think Newhook is a guy that’ll be cut? No. But for a guy who was expected to have a breakout camp and go earn a top-six role, has his preseason been a little disappointing? Maybe a little.

 

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A graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Scott has so far spent the early parts of his young career covering Colorado hockey — from the Avalanche to the Colorado Eagles to the DU Pioneers. His work can be found across sites such as NHL.com, TheAHL.com and SB Nation, among others. Scott currently resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, where he works as a Marketing Executive when he's not writing.

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ricoflashback

I’d like to see more from Bednar while we’re at it. Like learning how to play with the lead and focusing on defense more. Shut down hockey with the lead and five minutes to play in the third period. A more grinding, physical style that can win in the playoffs. Up and down during the “Ice Capades” regular season is nice. It’s very entertaining. But it won’t win you a Cup. Look how the MGM line was shut down against Vegas. That happens with all top lines in the playoffs. Goals are harder to come by. Defense becomes more important.… Read more »

Peter Martin

Bednar is a smart guy and he knows the key to staying an NHL coach for 10-20 years is: tow the line. Don’t try anything extreme, instead be moderate. Be a guy a GM can trust to do what he’s told. Remember, the NHL, above all else, is about making money for the owners. Once you’re in The Club, you want to stay in The Club and not be exiled.

Bednar has made small adjustments over the years, but to hope for a complete overhaul of the team’s style in one season is ambitious.

Nick Chapman

Agree with Rico. The Avs focus should not be “entertaining hockey.” Their primary objective EVERY SINGLE GAME should be to allow zero goals. The offensive talent is strong enough to score some goals and take care of itself. The focus must be on allowing very little chances..and before someone says “The Avs allowed very few shots last year”….I’m not talking about shots. Only allowing 25 shots isn’t relevant if 7 of them are high danger. They need to focus on eliminating high danger scoring chances and suffocating opposing teams’ offense. That’s how you win Stanley Cups.

Last edited 18 days ago by Nick Chapman
ricoflashback

Excellent post. How many times have we seen the Avs blow leads in the third period? While it can be subjective, there is a big difference between a “shot” and a “scoring chance.” I’d like to see a focus on defense from the get-go. When the Avs get to overtime, their three on three play has been atrocious. Win the close games. That’s how you win a Cup.

troian

Along with the above excellent observations, this article also goes to the risk associated with overly optimistic projections of player development filling roster shortcomings. I hope he and they prove the projections are correct, but that remains to be seen.

ricoflashback

Yes – agreed. Hopefully, Newhook improves. But that’s a lot to ask of him at his young age. I’m hoping for some surprises with the roster. I know it’s a long shot but I’d like to see Olausson on opening night. But that will burn a year of his entry level contract. Still – – I think he’s gonna be a player. They threw Byram into the fray, early, and Olausson is bigger, physically, at this stage than Bo was.

Last edited 18 days ago by ricoflashback
Bob Neal

I hope both Olausson and Ranta are in the not too distant lineup. I like both their size, skill and energy levels. Bedsie seems to get down on young players quite quickly, as Newhook has alot of upside.

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