Dom Lunardo | April 29th, 2020
The Colorado Avalanche are one of the most youthfully exuberant, skilled, and exciting teams in the National Hockey League. They’re explosive, well-rounded and have some of the best players in the show playing for their team with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and rookie phenom, Cale Makar. Before the NHL hit the pause button due to the COVOD-19 pandemic, the Avs posted a 42-20-8 record through 70 games and sat two points behind the Central Division leaders, St. Louis Blues.
The Mile (Very) High
Over the last few seasons, the Avalanche have gained the reputation on a league-wide basis of “doing things right,” They draft well, develop well, and put a product on the ice that is indicative of their general manager, Joe Sakic. This is a team that has the skill upfront, and the flare to succeed and contend for a Stanley Cup. There is a deep crop of young guns waiting in the wings. Let’s dive in and meet the “Big-3” prospects for the Colorado Avalanche and what their future holds.
Number 3: Alex Newhook, Center, Boston College (NCAA)
Alex Newhook gets the ball rolling at number three. Selected in the first round, 16th overall during last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Newhook is an intelligent, energetic, and smooth-skating centerman who loves to battle for loose pucks. At 5’10, size is certainly not one of his strong suits, but he makes up for it with his ability to work hard and to be a menace for opponents.
The Avalanche view Newhook as their future number two center to go along with Nathan MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri to form an impressive trio down the middle in Denver. This season at Boston College in the NCAA, Newhook scored 42 points in 34 games including 19 goals. He’s fearless, relentless, and plays the game with intensity and emotion on every shift. Keep in mind this is a player who’s still only 19 years of age. Colorado’s’ got themselves a player in Alex Newhook.
Number 2: Conor Timmins, Defenseman, Colorado Avalanche (NHL)/Colorado Eagles (AHL)
21-year-old, Conor Timmins from St. Catherines, Ontario sits as number two on our list. Already deemed an “untouchable” by Avalanche general manager (and Hall-of-Famer), Joe Sakic, Timmins is the prototypical stalwart on the blue-line. His vision, anticipation skills, and knack to sniff out danger makes him an elite defensive d-man who just continues to get better and better.
This season with the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League (AHL), Timmins skated in 40 games, tallying 27 points. He even suited up for the Avalanche for two games and impressed the organization with his poise and confidence. Timmins is a shoo-in to crack the Avs top-four in the next year or so and should fit in perfectly along with Bowen Byram, Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, and Erik Johnson on the blue-line in Denver. Avalanche fans are going to fall in love with Timmins and what he brings to the table.
Number 1: Bowen Byram, Defenseman, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Bowen Byram comes in at number one, as Colorado’s top-prospect. Selected in the first round, fourth overall during last summer’s NHL entry draft, the 6’1, 195-pound defenseman is a superstar in the making with an extensive arsenal of skills at his disposal. Byram has been described as “gifted” and a “game-changer”, who can turn a game on its head in the blink of an eye. Wait, don’t the Avalanche already have a player like that on their blue-line with the likes of rookie sensation, Cale Makar? Now imagine the two of them playing together along with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen? It sounds like real trouble for the rest of the league.
As a player, Byram is an elite skater who plays a fast, up-tempo style from the defensive zone. He’s wonderful in transition and loves to provide offense. Bryam is excellent in his own end, sees the ice well, and “zips” the puck around in the blink of an eye.
Byram also suited up for Team Canada during the 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, where he won gold. In 50 games this season with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey league (WHL), Byram scored 14 goals to go along with 52 points. Byram’s vision and creativity perfectly complement his raw talent and is already a future Norris-trophy candidate in the making. The Colorado Avalanche will have another incredible talent on the blue-line in Bowen Byram.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images