Colorado Avalanche Prospects: Exodus or Cleaning House?


With the announcement that several Colorado Avalanche prospects are leaving to play in Europe next season, some people worry that the team is getting even thinner.

Colorado Avalanche prospects such as Roman Will and Dennis Everberg‘s leaving is akin to rats fleeing a sinking ship. Or, Avalanche front offices are clearing space for a fresh crop.

With the season over, and summertime changes looming, several Avalanche prospects have announced that they’ll be playing in Europe next season. Dennis Everberg, Max Noreau and Joey Hishon have all announced that they will be playing in Europe next year. According to Eurolanche, Roman Will  will also return to Europe next season, and it’s likely Borna Rendulic will do the same.

All of those players were due to become restricted free agents over the summer, except for Noreau, who will become an unrestricted free agent.

Now, there are two ways to look at these players leaving.

Rats Fleeing a Sinking Ship vs Cleaning House

The Colorado Avalanche system is in a shambles. GM Joe Sakic and head coach Patrick Roy are floundering at asset management, and Craig Billington didn’t fulfill his duties as prospect developer. As such, San Antonio Rampage head coach Dean Chenoweth had to be fired, and these prospects are fleeing a sinking ship.

On the other hand, the Colorado Avalanche front offices could have taken a look at their limited prospect pool and decided to clean house. They fired Dean Chenoweth and have started clearing the roster of players who don’t fit in with their ultimate vision.

Let’s be honest, the truth is probably somewhere in between, but closer to the latter. Let’s look a little more closely at who’s left and how they fit the Colorado Avalanche mold.

Exiting Prospects

Ever since Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy took over, the team has been moving toward finding its identity. Those two Hall of Fame players are attempting to construct a Stanley Cup winning team.

Now, there have been a lot of arguments about how well they’re doing that, especially when it comes to analytics. However, though Sakic and Roy have openly stated they don’t trust advanced stats completely, the team does employ an analyst.

Nonetheless, the point is that Sakic and Roy have stated on more than one occasion that they favor big players who “play hockey the right way.” In various interviews they’ve talked about finishing checks, playing a two-way game and showing leadership. The team also favors speed. Therefore, it makes sense that the team wants big, gritty, two-way players who skate well and show good character.

Unfortunately, Joey Hishon and Max Noreau don’t fit that mold very well. Both are small, and neither makes up for that. Neither is particularly physical, and they don’t show enough leadership potential to become assets in that way.

Rendulic and Everberg had better opportunities. Everberg blew his chance, though. He stopped playing the physical game that got him onto the roster to begin with, and didn’t make up for it in the scoring or playmaking department. Colorado doesn’t need players who regress.

Rendulic got a bad shake in his two opportunities. He was playing well at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, but a broken leg ended that chance prematurely. He made the roster out of training camp for the 2015-16 season, but the whole team struggled in October. As the Avalanche tanked, Rendulic got sent back to San Antonio, but he can hardly be blamed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were given another chance.

The Roman Will news is a mite troubling. The one area in which the Colorado Avalanche are stacked organization-wide is at goal tending. Will is good, but he’s not better than Calvin Pickard or Reto Berra. Either one of those is going to play for Colorado next season, leaving the other to take up the starting goalie spot it San Antonio.  That’s probably why Will has reportedly decided to return to Europe.

In addition to these players, the following prospects are restricted free agents:

Of those players, no official word has come on their future with the team. However, Sami Aittokallio has been playing in Finland. I’d guess a few of them might be given another contract, but I suspect Siemens and Gormley are out.

Ben Street, Nate Guenin and Patrick Bordeleau are all unrestricted free agents. I’d be highly surprised to see any of them given another contract.

Related Story: 4 Avs Prospects Unlikely to Return

Future of the Colorado Avalanche Prospect Pool

Some Colorado Avalanche fans have been worrying that the team won’t have adequate resources in San Antonio next season:

However, the Colorado Avalanche still have options.

First of all, they have plenty of players they drafted and to whom they still have rights. Coach Roy specifically mentioned AJ Greer, Nicolas Meloche, JC Beaudin and Julien Nantel as being “character players” ready to join the Avalanche’s winning culture. And don’t forget our hero from the last draft, Mikko Rantanen, though he’s expected to debut with the big team.

There are plenty of other players still in the system as well from the last two drafts, including Andrei Mironov, Sergei Boikov, Nicholas Magyar, Alexis Pepin, Anton Lindholm, Max Pajpach and Gustav Olhaver.

JT Compher, whom the team acquired as part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade, signed a contract with Colorado just over a week ago. He’ll be joining the system next year.

Plus, Colorado can make moves for other teams’ restricted and unrestricted free agents next season. They can also look over the talent pool available in Europe — I can guarantee there are scouts at IIHF Worlds seeing which players fit the Avalanche’s mold.

Next: Analysis of Hishon's Leaving the Avs

So, it’s too bad players such as Everberg and Hishon didn’t work out for the Colorado Avalanche. However, it doesn’t signify a worrying mass exodus. Instead, it suggests the team is rebuilding according to a blueprint.