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Avalanche Prospects: End of the Season For Both Behrens and Kovalenko; Could Either Sign?



DU Pioneers Avalanche Behrens nhl

The prospect pool for the Colorado Avalanche is pretty thin these days, but they still have a few gems, namely Sean Behrens and Nikolai Kovalenko.

Those two prospects saw their respective seasons come to an end over the last few days. Could either of them sign contracts with the Avalanche in the near future?

On Thursday night, top-seeded DU’s season came to end in disappointing fashion, as they were shutout by the fourth-seeded Cornell in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. That means the sophomore season for Sean Behrens is now complete, and he’s free to sign with the Avalanche, if he chooses to do so.

Behrens helped DU win a National Championship as a freshman, and put up impressive numbers for a defenseman in both of his seasons with the program. He also played a big role in Team USA winning the Bronze medal at the World Junior Championships back in January. Since he plays right up the street, the Avalanche know exactly what they have in Behrens.

So, will he sign a pro contract? It seems more likely than not. There isn’t really much more for him to do at the NCAA level, but ultimately, it’s up to the player.

However, don’t expect Behrens to step into the NHL right away if he does choose to turn pro. At only 19, there’s no reason to rush him. The Avalanche would love to see him go to the AHL and spend time under the tutelage of Greg Cronin. Behrens could sign his three year, entry-level contract and start that now, but the more likely scenario seems like he’d sign an Amateur tryout contract to play in the AHL, and have the entry-level deal start next fall. That’s assuming he wants to get his pro career started right away.

As for Nikolai Kovalenko, it’s a little more clear cut with him.

Kovalenko’s KHL team, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, was eliminated in the second round of the KHL playoffs on Tuesday. It was an incredibly successful season for the 23 year old Russian. He tied for 10th in the KHL in scoring with 54 points in 56 games during the regular season. That scoring rate also was the third best in the league. In the playoffs, he chipped in with seven points in 10 games.

Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely he signs an NHL contract this year. As I reported last month, Kovalenko has one more year on his contract in the KHL, and with no transfer agreement, the Avalanche would have to go through a lot of hoops to get him out of that contract. That’s assuming Kovalenko wants to come over right away. Nikolai and his father, Andrei, both believe he needs to establish himself as a top player in the KHL before making the jump to the NHL. Another strong year in the KHL would cement that.

It’s a shame, because Kovalenko is built to play NHL hockey right now, and could help immediately, given his age and experience in the KHL. He also plays a game that would easily translate to North American hockey.

Stay tuned to CHN if anything changes with either of these top prospects.

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