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Avalanche Notebook: Byram Out; Lehkonen Ready For Next Step



Avalanche Lehkonen

One day after the crazy comeback win over the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche held an optional practice at Family Sports. Both goaltenders attended, but just six skaters were on the ice.

Ross Colton, Kurtis MacDermid, Caleb Jones, Andrew Cogliano, Josh Manson, and Artturi Lehkonen.

The final player listed there shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he’s been skating with the team for a while. The surprise was seeing Lehkonen out of a red non-contact jersey, and wearing a regular white jersey.

Was he wearing a regular jersey because it was an optional skate, or is he ready to take the next step in his recovery?

“He’s getting closer,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s at a point now where he wants to start taking some contact and building back to getting into all the drills, get his timing, getting used to playing 5-on-5 instead of just skating on his own. I think he’s at eight weeks yesterday, and that’s just the point of his rehab where he’s at. Try and build back and feeling more comfortable. Giving and taking hits, start rubbing guys out and other guys doing the same to him so he can work his way back.”

Eight weeks into a 10-12 week injury means he could return at the end of the next long road trip the Avalanche have. I imagine he’ll go on the road trip with the team, but we’re about a week away from that.

Byram Out

It can’t all be good news on the injury front.

Bowen Byram left last night’s game in the third period because of a lower-body injury, and that injury is going to keep him out of Saturday’s afternoon affair with the Florida Panthers.

It’s possible he misses more time as well.

“He’s still getting evaluated,” Bednar said. “I don’t have a timeline yet on him, but I should have maybe some news tomorrow to give you a timeline on how long he’ll be out.”

Expect Caleb Jones, who has been working hard in practice, to be inserted into the lineup for the Avalanche.

More On Jonathan Drouin

If you haven’t already read my article today on Jonathan Drouin and looking to get him extended, please do so. Lots of varying opinions, and that’s to be expected.

I asked Bednar today if something clicked for Drouin as the season has gone on, or if this has been a gradual improvement.

“I think it’s probably a little bit more gradual,” Bednar said. “Certainly it clicked for him a little bit early in the year. Lots of talk with our guys that have been around, he gets in more team meetings, understands exactly the way we want to play, what expectations we have for him (with) his responsibilities on both sides of the puck. Lots of players know that, but you still have to buy into that, and work at that, and he’s done that. He’s put in the work. There was certainly a time where he became clear on everything and things started to click for him.”

He continued from there.

“As far as the production goes, I think it’s been a gradual process, and as he feels more comfortable, confident in his role on our team, the better he’s playing. He’s playing a great game right now for 200 feet. Certainly helping us on the offensive side of it. Really helps that we can move him up with Nate and Mikko and that can be an effective line. Helps me put Val down a line and really helps our second line.”

Other News And Notes

  • There were only two media members at practice today. Myself, and Colleen from THN. We got Bednar for about six minutes, and I asked him specifically about the play by Devon Toews on Jason Robertson. He broke it down in detail, and I’ll have a separate piece up on that as + content. Interesting to get the point of view of the coach on a play like that.
  • Both Alex Barkov and Evan Rodrigues left Florida’s most recent game and did not return, so the Avalanche might catch a bit of a break on Saturday. The Panthers didn’t practice, so their status is up in the air for the game.
  • Evan Rodrigues has been great in Florida, and I’ve been compiling opinions from the beat writers in Florida, Montreal, and Detroit for an upcoming piece on how E-Rod, Newhook, Barron, and Compher have been doing with their new teams. Look for that soon.
  • The Avalanche recalled Ben Meyers on Friday afternoon, so we’ll see if he draws into the lineup on Saturday.

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