It’s entirely possible this is the last day the Colorado Avalanche split up into two groups for practice. With more cuts made this morning, and Colorado Eagles training camp starting on Monday, the team will cut down on numbers.
The second group today was mostly made up of players that played last night and prospects, while group one was their NHL squad, with one big surprise up front.
Let’s get into the news of the day.
- The big surprise up front was Ivan Ivan centering the fourth line with Logan O’Connor and Andrew Cogliano. No, he won’t make the team. He doesn’t even have an NHL deal at the moment, but it’s a testament to how well he’s played since camp started. Cogliano and O’Connor both took time to teach him what to do on the penalty kill with the whiteboard, and after practice, Jared Bednar had high praise for the young forward.
- “Great skillset,” Bednar said. “Crafty, really good hands and vision. Offensive guy who can skate. I see him as a prospect, I do. Just watching him and Jedlicka through training camp, I’ve been really impressed. They played a great game together the other night, both guys are going to go again on Sunday because they’ve earned it. I try not to make early decisions, I want to watch things play out, and have the guys here that really earn the game, and I felt like they played as well as a lot of our veteran AHL guys, and guys that had been in the AHL. That’s why they’re going to get another game. And you see, when our team starts to take off, lots of times the young guys are ready to drop off and there becomes a bigger gap and it’s time to move them to their teams, but they’ve kind of stuck with it and have gotten better through the course of training camp. I expect him to have a big year down with the Eagles. I think they can rely on him in a bunch of different ways.”
- Ivan only has an AHL contract, but if he plays well, will earn an NHL deal. “That’s the goal,” Bednar said.
- Ondrej Pavel spent all summer in Denver, but due to a lower-body injury, has not played since rookie camp started. He’s already been assigned to the Eagles, and Bednar sounded really disappointed that the injury impacted his camp so much. I told everyone to keep an eye on him heading into camp, and now we sit and wonder – what could have been?
- “That’s a disappointing one, because you want to reward players with time up here,” Bednar said. “This guy’s the hardest working guy all summer. Like, he never missed a day here all summer. I believe he kind of fits that fourth line center mold for us. Heavy, strong, real disciplined guy, super competitive and hard working. He’s an identity-type player. I feel for him because he spent the whole summer training to get the opportunity to play exhibition games, and now he’s not.”
- The team expects him to be healthy by the time the Eagles season starts.
- Players assigned to the Eagles today were: Henry Bowlby, Tanner Hero, and Matthew Stienburg. Keaton Middleton and Spencer Smallman were placed on waivers with the intention of sending them to the Eagles.
- Peter Holland was not at skate, and the Avalanche have offered him the opportunity to go to Eagles camp when it starts Monday. He’s still deciding what he wants to do. If he does not accept, he will be released from his PTO.
- Riley Tufte started at center in Minnesota, but did not finish there. “I didn’t love him at center,” Bednar said. They moved him to wing and he played better, scoring late. Bednar said if they want to try to move him to center, it’s a long-term project with a lot of coaching, which is tough to do in the NHL when you’re trying to win.
- Bowen Byram missed practice because he was not feeling well.
- Brandon Kozun missed practice with a lower-body injury.
- Tomas Tatar returned, and skated with his regular linemates on the third line for the Avalanche. He moved in and out of the second powerplay unit, alternating on the wall with Sam Girard.
- Cale Makar sounded a little frustrated with his injury, but Bednar didn’t seem worried about it.
- “The reality of it is most guys don’t feel 100%, in my opinion, ever,” Bednar said. “Especially once the season starts. I think that’s just the norm in the NHL because of the schedule. You certainly want your guys feeling as healthy as possible, and as strong as possible coming into the season, but I think he is. I don’t really have any long-term concerns over it.”
- Since literally no one could watch the Avalanche game last night in Minnesota, we asked Bednar for standouts. He did single out Justus Annunen, who had to face a lot of the NHL roster for the Wild. Sam Malinski was also someone who he mentioned had a strong finish to the game.
The Avalanche are off on Saturday, and will hit the ice Sunday night at Ball Arena when they take on the Dallas Stars.