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Top Avalanche Prospect Could Miss Serious Time



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The Colorado Avalanche have dealt with a lot of injuries over the last few years with their NHL squad. There seems to be a trickle down effect happening, because now their prospects are getting hit hard as well.

First round pick Cal Ritchie had off-season shoulder surgery, but the organization knew that when they drafted him. Jean-Luc Foudy has not played a game this season due to a mystery injury, and there’s no real update on when he might return. Justus Annunen just returned after missing a month.

Then you have Nikolai Kovalenko, who is having a great season over in the KHL. He started the year on fire, then disappeared for about six weeks due to what is believed to be a wrist injury. He came back, but from watching, you could tell something was bothering him, as his production dropped and he wasn’t shooting as much. During the KHL All-Star Break, he turned down an opportunity to play in a tournament because he was “working on his health.”

Now, just three games into the second half of the KHL season, he’s back on the IR. It might be an extended absence, too.

Kovalenko was a surprise scratch from Tuesday’s Torpedo game. He was on the ice during the final seconds of the previous match, even missing an empty net opportunity, and nothing appeared to be wrong.

After Tuesday’s game, Igor Larionov updated everyone on his status, and it sounds like they don’t quite know how long he will miss.

“It’s very difficult to say here,” Larionov said. “We planned to play the full line-up today, but, unfortunately, Nikolai Kovalenko is out for at least two weeks.”

After stating two weeks, Larionov emphasized the at least part again.

Kovalenko currently has 29 points in 27 games, although his production has dipped a bit of late. Could that be because he’s still bothered by an injury? It’s possible, and if he is, it’s best that he gets right. The issue would be that he’s set to join the Avalanche at the end of the KHL season. If he’s dealing with nagging injuries, how will that impact what he can do in North America?

As always, I’ll keep updating everyone on the situation. The Avalanche are one of two NHL teams that do not have a prospect playing in the World Junior Championships, and these updates aren’t as fun as National Team updates.

Maybe next year.

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