Colorado Avalanche: Does Jared Cowen Have a Chance?

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 26: Jared Cowen
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 26: Jared Cowen /

The Colorado Avalanche have signed defenseman Jared Cowen to a paid tryout contract, which is a reach for both parties.

Well, the Colorado Avalanche do love their savior projects. The most recent example is they have signed defenseman Jared Cowen to a paid tryout. That means he’ll attend training camp and perhaps play in a few preseason games.

Ostensibly, he’s trying to earn a spot on the team.

Jared Cowen has experienced a lot of setbacks in his young life. The 26-year-old was the #9 pick in the 2009 draft, going to the Ottawa Senators.

Things started out well. He signed a contract with the team and made the roster for the 2011-12 season. Unfortunately, he was playing in the AHL during the lockout the following season, and he suffered a season-ending hip injury.

It’s a hip injury that’s plagued him ever since. He did return, and he came back strong (he delivered a massive hit on Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner and fought two players in his first game back). He played well enough to earn a four-year contract with an AAV of $3.1 million in 2013.

That was the start of another problem. He had been holding out and didn’t even sign the contract until after training camp had already started. Jared Cowen started getting a reputation as a difficult player.

By the 2015-16 season, Cowen was unable to earn a regular roster spot with the Senators. He was part of a huge, nine-player trade that brought Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa. Cowen was technically shipped off to Toronto, but he never played for the Maple Leafs.

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At that point, the old hip injury — which he’d had operated on — was really bothering him. During an interview last year with Sportnet, Cowen said that post-surgery he was feeling “worse and worse,” but that that eventually became the “new normal.” However, he went on to develop a hernia, which he played on despite the pain. He had another surgery in the summer of 2015.

Toronto team doctors cleared Cowen to play. The Maple Leafs put him on waivers and sent him to the AHL, but he never even played there. Toronto announced an intention to buy him out, so Cowen just went home.

The Toronto Maple Leafs bought out Jared Cowen’s contract, but he contested because he was injured. However, an impartial arbiter dismissed his grievance.

Jared Cowen didn’t play at all last season.

That history makes you wonder what the Colorado Avalanche are thinking. It’s true that Cowen is young. He’s a big player (6-foot-5) with an outstanding reach. He plays with grit, but he was never known for being speedy, even before all the hip problems. He doesn’t display great puck skills either, but he’s a good shut-down guy.

He’s a player for the 2015 team, in other words. Just when I think I know what Avs New Style Hockey is, they make a signing like this.

Understandably, this is just a PTO. There’s no guarantee Jared Cowen plays more than one or two preseason games, much less actually earn a contract.

However, there are other under-30 UFA defensemen out there the Avs could offer a PTO to, such as Jyrki Jokipakka or Mike Weber, both of whom actually played hockey last year. Hell, I’d rather see them offer a PTO to 30-year-old Cody Franson.

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It makes you wonder if the Colorado Avalanche are getting nervous about signing Nikita Zadorov. Frankly, they just need to get that deal done. Jared Cowen isn’t the answer.