The Colorado Avalanche prospect development camp ended with skills drills and power skating coaching. Prospects are starting to distinguish themselves.
The Colorado Avalanche held their annual prospect development camp from June 26 to 29, with on-ice portions from June 27 to 29. As I observed, it’s earlier this year than previously — Colorado previously held their camp right after July 4.
This year, 22 prospects participated. Here’s the roster:
The majority of the participants are Colorado Avalanche draft picks from the last two years. Though not on the list, A.J. Greer also made an appearance — apparently agitating the odd player here in there. It’s apparently his specialty.
A notable absence for me was last year’s third-round defensive prospect, Josh Anderson. However, it was good to see that Tyson Jost, who even has his first NHL goal out of the way, chose to be at the development camp.
There were three players I wanted especially to witness — Conor Timmins, Denis Smirnov and Andrei Mironov. The former were from this year’s draft, while Mironov is the defensive prospect whom Colorado chose in 2015’s fourth round. He turned away from a lucrative KHL career to play for Colorado.
Unfortunately, I arrived at the camp late (I got in late from a trip last night) so I barely got to identify Smirnov before the forwards left the ice. However, since he’s completed a year of college here in the United States, apparently he’s the new Avs Russian ambassador:
That’s Mironov on the right. More on him in a moment.
Conor Timmins was the Colorado Avalanche’s #32 draft pick. He was scouted to go higher. However, when he slipped out of the first round, Colorado picked him up.
Timmins is a good, puck-moving right-handed defenseman. At 6-foot-1, 182 pounds as an 18-year-old, Timmins also has good size for the modern NHL’s defenseman. He’s known for having a great hockey IQ.
While it’s said Timmins is a very good skater, I was interested to note he struggled a bit with the finer work he and other prospects did with skating coach Tracy Tutton:
At the time, he was practicing drills with fellow defenseman Thomas Gregoire, an undrafted camp invitee out of Quebec. Gregoire’s movements seemed a lot smoother.
Here’s Timmins working on some edgework while skating back:
Now, these are just skating instruction, but I’m hoping young Timmins takes the knowledge to heart and practices — the Colorado Avalanche is moving toward elite skating the way they used to focus on size.
Conor’s got some moves, though:
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Now, on to Andrei Mironov. Like I said, Colorado selected him in the fourth round in 2015 (a stellar draft year for the Avs — six of the seven prospects are under contract: Mikko Rantanen, Nicolas Meloche, J.C. Beaudin, Mironov and Sergei Boikov).
This offseason, Mironov made the decision to sign a contract with the Avs. He was moving along well in the KHL, so he made it clear he didn’t leave that lucrative career to kick it down in the AHL here.
From what I saw today, he shouldn’t have much to worry about. Granted, my sample size was small, but he was easily the most polished player I saw on the ice. (I missed seeing Tyson Jost, though — apparently he was kicking butt and taking names in camp.)
Here’s Andrei Mironov working on a similar edgework drill as Timmins above:
Russian skaters are known for their skating, and Mironov lives up to that reputation.
Here’s Mironov participating in a drill:
Russian skating is easy to distinguish. Besides being fluid, it’s dynamic. Plus, it seems Russian players have a way of hulking over their sticks.
Overall, I was impressed with Mironov. He’s more than just a destructive force on the ice, though we’ve seen he has that edge to his game. He’s also a competitor and a perfectionist. I can’t wait to see him at rookie camp and training camp. I think he has a good chance to make the team.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Colorado’s fourth-overall pick, defenseman Cale Makar, in action. Luckily for us, Denver Post writer Mike Chambers did:
First blush, Makar is a speedier skater than Mironov. However, Mironov tops Makar by three inches — his stride definitely looks longer. I’d like to see the two in a foot race.
In case you’re wondering, #62 is Gregoire. Judging from the very small sample, he’s not too shabby.
This year the Colorado Avalanche did more on-ice work than in previous years — five four-hour sessions total. In the previous years, they’ve usually done three. The prospects also focus on nutrition, fitness and healthy living in off-ice sessions. (It’s a joke that the modern prospect shows up with his own Juice Ninja these days — they know the importance of nutrition.)
Prospects also get to participate in other off-ice fitness activities. Last year they spent some time at the Denver Broncos training facility. This year they went to the Rockies training facility to work on shooting drills:
Usually the prospects get a chance to hike around in the Colorado beauty. This year they capped off camp with a hike in Manitou Springs:
Nothing like training at altitude.
The Colorado Avalanche prospects will soon disperse to work with their personal trainers before reporting to their various camps. The above-mentioned prospects who have contracts with Colorado should be present at rookie camp. Preseason starts September 27. I’m guessing rookie camp starts around September 18.