Joey Hishon: Why the Odds Are Against Him in Colorado


Forward Joey Hishon was one of the few bright spots in an utterly disappointing 2014-15 season for the Colorado Avalanche. He got his first regular season NHL audition late in the season and topped it off with his first major league goal. But yet, the odds are stacked against him in Colorado.

After Hishon got his first chance to prove himself in the NHL, many fans — with former MHS editor Austin Manak and his “Free Joey Hishon” campaign leading the way — wanted to see him getting more ice time. It is still unclear if it was Austin’s campaign or Patrick Roy’s individual decision, but Hishon did end up seeing a slight increase in ice time. He then rewarded Roy’s decision with a sweet game-winning goal against the Nashville Predators.

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Unfortunately, Hishon’s career hasn’t always been so romantic, and it likely won’t be in the future either. A year after being selected 17th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, 19-year-old Hishon went down after taking a dirty hit to the head, suffering a concussion that would keep him out of game action for the entire 2011-12 season. Furthermore, he was limited to nine games for the Lake Erie Monsters the year after, still suffering from post-concussion syndrome.

Ever since that happened, Joey Hishon appeared to be a bit of a wild card. Can he come back and play fearlessly? Can he rediscover his scoring touch? Questions like that have been and still are haunting fans and management to this day. Unfortunately, Hishon tends to score at a below-average pace — for his player type and talent level — in the AHL, instead of joining the Avalanche’s group of centers to be one of the team’s leaders.

That’s why it was great to see him having some success in the NHL late last season. It seemed as though Hishon was finally ready to join the Avalanche full-time this season. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

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The Avalanche traded away Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn, but brought in Carl Soderberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, Blake Comeau, Mikko Rantanen, Jack Skille and Curtis Glencross. The top six is likely set, meaning that Hishon (the Magician) would’ve had to do real magic to earn a spot there. For the bottom six, however, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound player doesn’t seem to be the right fit, especially when you have mentioned players like Comeau and Skille available.

Sad but true, the result was clear: Joey Hishon had to take the trip to San Antonio, Texas, which will likely be his new home for a while. There, he can develop into a real offensive force and a team leader, while checking his phone for a call from Colorado every few minutes. But what are his chances of being called up anytime soon? Without an injury, they will likely end up being close to zero.

For bottom-six spots, Dennis Everberg and Borna Rendulic should be the first call-ups. Joey Hishon “protected” by big but skilled players à la Grigorenko and Comeau sounds like something that could work, but it isn’t quite that easy in reality.

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According to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, coach Roy wants to use Nathan MacKinnon as the third-line center. Soderberg and Matt Duchene have spots on the top lines guaranteed. That leaves the fourth line for Hishon, but if there’s one line that should be gritty, it’s the fourth line. Plus, the Avalanche has John Mitchell to center it.

Of course Roy could do some line juggling, moving Hishon or one of the others to the wing. However, even then, it seems extremely tough for Hishon to get a job in the NHL. Too many players are currently better than him, and too many are bigger and grittier.

That last point is an extremely important one when you have Roy as your coach. He wanted the team to get bigger and made that happen. If Joey Hishon suddenly ended up emerging as a player with top-line talent, even Roy would probably try to squish him into the lineup. But how likely is that?

Joey Hishon is still a talented player who possesses top-six skill, but size and physicality seem to be an issue. If he gets over that, he may get closer to being a full-time NHL player. But even then, it won’t be an easy path to glory. Hishon will need to rediscover the Magician in him. For now, however, the odds are stacked against him — at least in Colorado.

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