Defenseman Samuel Girard made a good impression during his first outing with the Colorado Avalanche. He earned an assist after an impressive play.
My first impression of new Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard was “This is a kid who can skate.”
Girard made his debut with the Avalanche against the Ottawa Senators in the SAP NHL Global Series game in Stockholm, Sweden. Naturally, the main storyline of the day was center Matt Duchene playing his first game with Ottawa against Colorado. Girard didn’t have that to get over because his old team is the Nashville Predators.
Well, it’s not going to be too long until young Girard is creating his own buzz. Indeed, it could be said he’s already doing so. In his first game with Colorado, he’s already earned a point, an assist on an Alexander Kerfoot goal:
See what I mean about Girard being able to skate? Plus, this is a 19-year-old kid playing only his sixth NHL game and on a huge stage, the Global Series game. Yet Girard holds onto the puck for a full 10 seconds and two spin-o-ramas.
He skates by Mark Barberio, and many rookies would be tempted to give it up to the veteran. Instead, Girard showcases such confidence with the puck that he keeps it on his stick until he sees the play open up the way he wants. Girard then passes the puck to Blake Comeau for the one-timer, which Kerfoot tips in.
That’s not the only time Girard held on to the puck for an extended time. He’s comfortable with the puck on his stick, even in the big old NHL. Indeed, just a month ago SB Nation was touting him as Nashville’s next big hit on defense. Luckily for us, the Predators are so stacked on defense they were willing to part with the talented youngster to acquire Kyle Turris from Ottawa.
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Coach Jared Bednar displayed confidence in Samuel Girard during the entire game. He paired Girard with Tyson Barrie, which wasn’t very popular with a lot of Avalanche fans because that’s a small pairing and a lack of, you know, defense. That said, it means Girard got 21:55 of ice time, which is a little more than Barberio and a little less than Barrie.
It’s a whole lot more than the bottom pairing of Chris Bigras (10:44) and Nikita Zadorov (13:05). (Cornerstone defenseman Erik Johnson had a ridiculous 30:02 of ice time — he also leads the NHL in shifts per game.)
Girard even saw some time on the power play. What’s more, in the waning seconds of the game, with the score tied, Bednar had Girard out on the ice. That shows a lot of confidence from the coach.
Here’s what center and alternate captain Nathan MacKinnon had to say about Girard:
Samuel Girard is going to force a tough decision on the Colorado Avalanche. He’s now played six NHL games. At the 10-game mark, a year gets burned off his three-year entry-level contract.
Plus, while the Avalanche naturally aren’t as deep on defense as the Predators, they still have seven other defenseman plus an injured Anton Lindholm on the roster. Andrei Mironov will likely be sent down. However, do the Avalanche also send down Chris Bigras and gamble on Girard?
It’s a nice quandary to be in. Recently I spoke with Evan Presement of Two Goons Pod about the Matt Duchene trade. He made an observation that was better than my slot machine analogy — GM Joe Sakic traded Duchene for seven lottery tickets.
For right now, at least, it seems like one of those lottery tickets is a winner.