On Tuesday, we got a pretty clear idea of who might legitimately be in the running for a roster spot with the Colorado Avalanche on opening night.
That’s good news for Nate Clurman.
Here are the lines that took the ice in group one for practice. As you can tell, it’s pretty obvious these are the players to be taken seriously at this point in camp. There’s also a pretty important player who was missing, but more on that below.
Jonathan Drouin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Artturi Lehkonen – Ryan Johansen – Valeri Nichushkin
Miles Wood – Ross Colton – Riley Tufte
Andrew Cogliano – Fredrik Olofsson – Logan O’Connor
Kurtis MacDermid – Ben Meyers – Joel Kiviranta
Bowen Byram – Devon Toews
Samuel Girard – Josh Manson
Brad Hunt – Nate Clurman
Jack Johnson – Sam Malinski
News And Notes
- The one player you might notice missing is Tomas Tatar. He took a shot off the hand the other night, and was hurting after the game. However, the Avalanche notified us that he was away from the team to get his immigration paperwork sorted out. He’ll be back by Thursday morning, at the latest, according to the team.
- Nate Clurman was one of the more interesting players to find his way into group one. He was really solid in the first preseason game, and fair or not, he has a leg up on some of the competition because he’s a right handed shot. It’s not a coincidence he was with the top group.
- “That’s why he’s there,” Bednar said of Clurman with the NHL guys. “I just saw a huge step in his development last year with the Eagles. Played himself into a regular role there. I don’t want to pigeonhole him into a role, but he’s a big, strong, physical guy and then a real smart defender. He knows what he is. Sort of like the Jack Johnson mold, I guess. He’s not going to give you a ton of offense, but he’s involved. His strengths lie on the size, and strength, and skating abilities. He’s a really strong skater, and he’s looked really good through camp. That’s why he’s with the big group.”
- Cale Makar skated again on his own today, and watched practice from the perch above the rink. Bednar said he doesn’t need to see him in a preseason game, but he’d like everyone to get at least one game to knock some rust off.
- Ondrej Pavel took to the ice in a non-contact jersey prior to the first group skating, but looked to be very early in his rehab. Jean-Luc Foudy and Alex Beaucage were warming up the goalies and doing more intense work, while Pavel was working on his own at the other end. They will all likely get assigned here soon, according to Bednar. Foudy not being able to participate in camp is a disappointment, simply because the Avalanche are happy with his development.
- “It sucks, but it’s part of the game,” Bednar said. “It’s up to him to make sure he’s doing the work to get ready to play again, and then he’s got to go down and have a strong start to his season, even though it may be delayed. He’s one of our prospects that, to me, has been continually on the rise. Played some good games for us last year. You can tell he can skate in the league and he’s got a competitive nature to him. So he’s a guy we’re excited about, so it’s disappointing that we don’t get to look at him in this, but it is what it is.”
- One of the talking points at camp today was just how atrocious NHL.com has become. The redesign is horrific, and you can’t find just basic stats from any games. Conor McGahey told me no one can find the radio links either on the site. Hopefully they change it and quickly, but I wouldn’t count on it with this league.
- Bednar said the Avalanche identified Brandon Kozun as someone who could help their depth, and they would love him in the AHL. He loved his first game, said he was all over the puck.
- Peter Holland expressed to me how grateful he was that the Avalanche organization let him take time off to go be with his wife as she gave birth to their second child. He wasn’t expecting that when he agreed to a PTO, but shows the class of the organization. Everyone is happy and healthy back home.
- There were only three of us media members at practice, so naturally, I took the time to ask Jared Bednar about Avalanche prospect Nikolai Kovalenko. The 23 year old Russian has developed into one of the best players outside the NHL, and is scheduled to join the team after his KHL season ends.
- “I kind of know what you guys know,” Bednar said. “I’ve seen all the highlight reels, I’ve read the scouting reports, I’ve watched some of his video earlier in the summer. We’re excited about him. I would think he was probably drafted young, thinking he could be this steady, 200 foot checker but he’s developed a really nice offensive ability in the KHL. He’s being used in all situations, so a ton of ice time. One of the guys they rely on, leader, Captain-type guy, so those are the types of guys you want to be excited about, see if his game translates when he comes over here.”
- Bednar did note it’s really hard to evaluate the KHL guys and how their game will translate. “It’s a totally different game,” he said.
The Avalanche will skate again tomorrow with the same setup. I’ll try to talk to Clurman about his game, and where he’s at. Look for a piece on Ivan Ivan either later tonight or tomorrow morning. I’d expect cuts to be made today as well.