Colorado Avalanche: Impressions from 2017 Rookie Camp

Colorado Avalanche rookies, prospects and tryouts showed off their skills at the rookie camp today.

The Colorado Avalanche held their only home ice rookie camp today at Family Sports Center. Unsigned draftees, freshly signed prospects, tryout players and a handful of prospect veterans took the ice.

I’ve been excited for this rookie camp for some time, and not just because it heralds the beginning of hockey season. The Colorado Avalanche is a rebuilding team, and these are the building blocks they’re going to use.

There were definitely players I wanted to get a good look at, especially those I hadn’t seen yet. That particularly includes recent college prospects Alex Kerfoot and Dominic Toninato, both centers.

Alex Kerfoot must be one smart cookie because he just graduated from Harvard. He’s a small cookie, though, at 5-foot-10 and a light 150 pounds. He did look small on the ice, and he skates with the choppy strides of a shorter player (#13):

Alex Kerfoot during scrimmage.

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What’s fun about Kerfoot is his last name. He fell, and my friend declared Kerfoot went kerplunk. I had to observe that Kerfoot needed to keep on his kerfeet. That alone makes me hope he makes the team eventually.

I was a little more impressed by Dom Toninato hockey-wise. He’s tenacious on the puck. I also think his smooth skating will translate well with the Colorado Avalanche system (#47):

Dominic Toninato during scrimmage.

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The 2015 NHL Draft was a good one for the Avalanche. Naturally, they stole Mikko Rantanen in the first round at #10 overall. However, they also picked up decent prospects in Nicolas Meloche (#41) and J.C. Beaudin #46), both of whom just signed this year.

Here they are with the Avs’ 2014 fifth rounder, defenseman Anton Lindholm (#54):

Beaudin, Lindholm, and Meloche in acrion.

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Their game still looks a little young. They’ll be heading down to San Antonio at some point in the preseason. I hope their game develops well and they get the chance at getting called up.

Aside from everyone’s favorite grandson, Tyson Jost, the jury is still out on the 2016 NHL Draft for the Colorado Avalanche. However, seventh-round left wing Travis Barron (#73) did make an appearance, along with this year’s second rounder, Conor Timmins (#68):

Travis Barron with a cameo by Conor Timmins.

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Barron is still young, and he plays a green game. He’ll be captaining the Ottawa 67s in the OHL this year. I guess we’ll have to see how his game develops at the major juniors level.

Something I especially wanted to check out was Conor Timmins’ skating. I saw him struggling a little with some of the edgework and agility at prospect development camp. There wasn’t a direct emphasis on skating at today’s camp, but here’s an example of his skating:

It still looks a little choppy to me. Anyway, he’ll be playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL for the third year in a row. Hopefully skating is something he works on.

A surprise that I have to keep commenting on is center Gustav Olhaver. Though part of that golden 2015 draft, he was a seventh rounder whom the Colorado Avalanche seemed to pick just because of his hulk — 6-foot-6, 225 pounds. That’s a lot of centerman.

Well, that gigantic centerman has developed into a right fine skater. Look at how smooth his stride is:

I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised — he’s been laying in the Swedish SuperElit league. I don’t know if the 20-year-old is ever going to translate into the NHL, but he certainly wouldn’t be a detriment to the team.

One thing that didn’t surprise me — and that I couldn’t stop raving over — was defenseman Andrei Mironov’s skating:

He has that Russian predatory style of skating that I think is going to translate beautifully with the Colorado Avalanche’s style of hockey. (He’s also known for being an agitator, but he and fellow agitator, A.J. Greer, managed to keep themselves in check.)

Well, not completely in check according to the Colorado Avalanche’s official Twitter feed:

Greer, #24, does seem to be can opening amateur tryout Tom Gregoire pretty hard in the beginning of that clip.

Last season defenseman Chris Bigras failed to make the team because he came to training camp with conditioning the Avs didn’t like. I know the Avalanche are doing some high tech conditioning drills, and I don’t know how Bigras will do this season. He looks raring to go, though:

Chris Bigras going hard.

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I also creeped on goalies Spencer Martin and Francis Leclerc because I love goalie stretching:

Veterans such as Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and the fresh-from-the-media-tour Nathan MacKinnon skated on the other sheet of ice. I didn’t spend a lot of time watching them because there’s not too many questions just yet about them — and I’ll be watching them next Friday.

The rookies and prospects are now heading off to California for the 2017 NHL Prospect Showcase in San Jose. They’ll play in three games:

Saturday, Sept. 9
Rookie Tournament vs. San Jose Sharks – 5 p.m. MT
Monday, Sept. 11
Rookie Tournament vs. Arizona Coyotes – 8 p.m. MT
Tuesday, Sept. 12
Rookie Tournament vs. Anaheim Ducks – 1 p.m. MT

On Sunday they’ll also have another day of camp in San Jose.

Colorado Avalanche training camp is two days this year:

Friday, Sept. 15
Group 1: 8:45-10:15 a.m. MT
Group 2: 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. MT

Saturday, Sept. 16
Group 1: 8:45-10:15 a.m. MT
Group 2: 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. MT

We’ll hopefully get to see all the legit prospects and returning veterans. Training camp culminates in the intrasquad scrimmage, the Burgundy and White game, on September 17. After that, we’re in the preseason.