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Evaluating The Avalanche Call-Ups This Season – Part One



Martin Kaut

If you’ve tuned into an Avalanche game this season and thought you had mistakenly turned on a Colorado Eagles match, you are forgiven.

The Avalanche have used 14 skaters this year that either are regular Eagles players, or have spent significant time with the farm team.

And there’s still half a season to go.

I wanted to evaluate all of these call-ups, but once I got stared, it really hit me how many there have been, so we’ll have to break this up into two pieces.

To date, the results have been pretty mixed. Some players have performed better than others, but the one constant has been a lack of production, putting a lot of pressure on the few healthy veterans to carry the load.

Let’s dig in.

Martin Kaut

Games: 24

On Ice 5v5 Corsi For %: 50.43%

Statistics: One goal, two assists

Let’s start with the man who is likely the highest profile name on the list.

This has been Kaut’s longest stint in the NHL to prove he has what it takes to be a consistent every day player, and he’s been…pretty up and down. He has good nights, he has bad nights, and to be honest, most nights you just don’t notice him.

The one thing he has done pretty well is generate shots. He’s averaging 2.12 shot attempts per game at even strength, a pretty impressive number considering he’s only averaging 8:26 of ice time a game.

He has mentioned on multiple occasions trying to mold his game after Logan O’Connor, but LOC is built a little different. He’s a much better skater than Kaut, which works to his advantage on the forecheck. The Avalanche gave Kaut some chances on the penalty kill but have backed away from using him there of late, so you just wonder what future role there even is for him.

Kaut, to me, is a really smart player and smart defensively, but doesn’t excel in any one area. That makes things a little more difficult when you’re trying to carve out a role. A role he hasn’t quite found in Colorado.

With only three points in 24 games, two of which came in the same game, you wonder how many more chances he will get. Having passed through waivers twice already this season, there don’t seem to be any teams around the league that think his struggles in Colorado are just because he’s miscast.

He’s been better than a number of call-ups, but you do always seem to be left wanting more.

Anton Blidh

Games: Nine

On Ice 5v5 Corsi For %: 49.09%

Statistics: Zero points

Signed as an unrestricted free agent over the summer from Boston, Blidh came as advertised. Heavy, tough in the corners, and not a whole lot of scoring touch.

For better or worse, that’s what they got.

With no points in nine games, he hasn’t factored in on any goals, despite having chances. He’s kind of the poster child of what has been plaguing the Avalanche this year with the forwards they’ve had to bring up. No one can score.

As a pending unrestricted free agent, I don’t see him having a future with the Avalanche, but he’s a nice piece for the Eagles in the AHL.

Alex Galchenyuk

Games: Four

On Ice 5v5 Corsi For %: 27.4%

Statistics: Zero points

If the Avalanche hadn’t been hit by so many injuries, I don’t think Galchenyuk would have been given the time of day. But they were hit hard, and they were hit the hardest right when Galchenyuk was getting hot with the Eagles.

He got an NHL contract and an immediate call-up, but it did not last long. The results were poor. The book on him has long been that he isn’t good defensively, but the offense used to make up for that. Once the offense started to dry up for him in the NHL, he began running out of chances.

All of those issues were on display in his short stint.

In his four games, the Avalanche only controlled 27.4% of the shot attempts with Galchenyuk on the ice. Galchenyuk himself only registered two shots on goal, but the struggles in the defensive zone were too great for the coaching staff to ignore. He was sent down after the fourth game and I would be surprised if we saw him again this year.

Brad Hunt

Games: 14

On Ice 5v5 Corsi For %: 56.18%

Statistics: One goal, One assist

A veteran of 241 NHL games before signing in Colorado, the Avalanche knew what they were going to get. And for the most part, he’s been exactly that.

He shoots pretty much any time the puck comes near him, and has been more reliable in the defensive zone than Jacob MacDonald, a big reason why he’s been dressing on defense over him. As you can see with the shot share numbers above, the puck is spending more time in the offense zone for the Avalanche with Hunt on the ice.

The cracks were starting to a show a little bit after the Holiday break, with some untimely penalties and turnovers, but scored one of the bigger goals of the season against the Oilers to tie the game.

All things considered, Hunt has been one of the stronger performers to come up from the Eagles this season.

Callahan Burke

Games: 2

On Ice 5v5 Corsi For %: 36.36%

Statistics: Zero points

The Avalanche were running out of options when they had to turn to Burke. The 25 year old center played his first two NHL games before being sent back to the Eagles.

His first game, he actually had some energy and had a couple of chances. The second game, you saw a bit more of what you would expect from him, as some plays died on his stick. I can’t imagine the Avalanche had plans to use him before the season, but things obviously got a little wild with injuries. A pretty valuable player in the AHL for the Eagles.

Sampo Ranta

Games: 5

On Ice 5v5 Corsi For %: 52.86%

Statistics: Zero points

After making the team out of training camp last season and playing 10 games, Ranta was sent down and spent the rest of the year with the Eagles.

This year, he wasn’t particularly close to making the team out of camp, but managed to get a few call-ups. I did not come away impressed last year in his stint, and was pretty surprised when he made the team. He’s a physical specimen, but looks a little lost on the ice, especially in the defensive zone.

This season, I liked him a fair bit more. He still has his issues in the defensive zone, but he was really hard on the puck and hit everything that moved. He got himself in position for chances as well, with 10 shot attempts in only five games of limited ice.

His role on the Eagles seems to indicate what the Avalanche are trying to do with him, and that’s molding him into a bottom six forward. Not sure it’s going to work, as I have questions around his ability to process the game at high speeds, but I do think there was improvement from his stint last year. That’s a positive step.

Charles Hudon

Games: Nine

On Ice 5v5 Corsi For %: 56.77%

Statistics: Zero points

It wasn’t a surprise to see Hudon get brought up from the Eagles to help out. It was a surprise that it took so long.

Of all the forwards the Avalanche had brought up this season, only Burke was called up later in the year than Hudon. Given he had significant prior NHL experience and is a top scorer in the AHL, that was a little surprising.

His first game with the Avalanche, he came out flying, with a team leading seven shots on net. He would still get chances in the eight other games he’s played, but like every other guy that’s gotten the call, couldn’t contribute on the scoresheet. The defensive warts also started to show up a bit.

A scorer not being able to finish is a little tough, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen from Hudon and would be comfortable in a pinch putting him back in. At 28, a long-term future is unlikely, but AAAA players always seem to get chances and flash for a few games. That has some value.

Seven down, seven to go. Look for part two to be out later this week.

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