Colorado Avalanche: Is Jared Cowen Earning a Contract?

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 24: Jared Cowen
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 24: Jared Cowen /

The Colorado Avalanche might seriously be considering offering defenseman Jared Cowen a contract to play in the 2017-18 NHL season.

The Colorado Avalanche offered defenseman Jared Cowen a paid tryout contract before training camp. At the time of writing, Cowen was still part of the team.

Could it be that the team is strongly considering him for a roster spot? The answer is yes, it would appear so. He has appeared in three of the five preseason games so far for the Avalanche:

  • September 19 vs Vegas Golden Knights
  • September 23 vs Minnesota Wild
  • September 25 vs Dallas Stars

If the Colorado Avalanche don’t cut Cowen before Thursday’s preseason finale against the Knights in Vegas, it’s a good bet he plays in that game, too — possibly with a potential defensive partner for the season. After all, that’s what he’s here for.

Jared Cowen was once a prospect with a lot of potential. The Ottawa Senators selected the defenseman ninth-overall in 2009. The 26-year-old behemoth — 6-foot-5, 238 pounds — has played in 249 NHL games, all with Ottawa.

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Unfortunately, his promising career has been plagued with injury. He eventually had surgery for a hip issue. He missed the entire 2016-17 season.

Cowen clearly came into camp hungry. He’s under no illusions that this is his last shot at the NHL — and maybe hockey all together. He’s skated well in the action I’ve seen him in, including the Vegas game and training camp. He’s not afraid to hit, and he hits hard. He’s shown good positioning and hasn’t made rookie mistakes like turning over the puck… repeatedly.

Do I think that means he deserves a roster spot? I don’t know. Right now the Colorado Avalanche have four prospects fighting for three defenseman positions:

There’s also David Warsofsky making a case for himself. Cowen’s chances don’t look half bad in that light.

What’s more, Colorado has a penchant for signing their PTO players. Just last year Rene Bourque earned a roster spot on a PTO. They also signed Jack Skille after his PTO in 2015.

I hate to see a player’s career end, especially since he got a raw deal from the Toronto Maple Leafs. (They bought him out and made it seem like he wasn’t on IR at the time. Cowen fought and lost a suit, thus losing millions.)

That said, there’s another young man, Duncan Siemens, whose career also hangs in the balance. Colorado signed him 11th-overall in 2011, and he has yet to break into the NHL. He’s had a rough preseason, but maybe he just needs some mentoring.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what it should — what’s best for the team. Cowen looks good now, but he’s a short-term solution the way Bourque and Skille were one-hit wonders for the Avalanche. Colorado is in full rebuild — shouldn’t the prospects be given a chance to prove themselves?

I guess I’d say that, unless Cowen shows something spectacular in the final game of the preseason — presuming he plays — the Colorado Avalanche shouldn’t offer him a contract. Unless he shows his defensive positioning to be sounder or his chemistry with a partner stronger, let the Avs prospects have their shot.