Colorado Avalanche: Would Alexander Kerfoot Benefit from More Ice Time?

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24: Alexander Kerfoot
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24: Alexander Kerfoot /

Rookie Alexander Kerfoot could probably benefit from more ice time, even though he’s maximizing what he’s given.

Alexander Kerfoot is the Colorado Avalanche’s best rookie right now. He may not have quite the same career arc as defenseman Samuel Girard or fellow center Tyson Jost, but he is producing the best numbers of any of the other first-year players.

In fact, Kerfoot earned an assist in yesterday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. That put him at the 30-point mark. He’s fourth on the Avalanche for scoring behind just the top-line guys — Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. In fact, he’s tied for fifth place in the entire NHL for rookies.

Yet Alexander Kerfoot gets less ice time than the top-10 rookies in the NHL. He averages 13:36, which is three to nine minutes fewer than the other top-10 rookies.

Kerfoot has been centering the “second line” for several weeks now. He’s often lined up with Nail Yakupov and another rookie, either Tyson Jost or A.J. Greer. However, the de facto second line has really been the one comprised of Carl Soderberg, Matthew Nieto, and Blake Comeau, relegating Kerfoot’s line to third at best.

Kerfoot does see time on the second power play. Nonetheless, his T.O.I. is middle of the pack for forwards.

Despite that limited ice time, Kerfoot has those 11 goals and 19 assists on the season. The next-best rookie is J.T. Compher, who has just 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) on the season. Compher gets more ice time (around 17 minutes) per game than Kerfoot, though.

Alexander Kerfoot has certainly come out of the rookie gate flying. He was scouted in the off-season as being a journeyman, a player who would probably spend more time in the AHL than NHL. Yet here he is as the fourth-best scorer on the Avalanche.

I think part of his success comes from his maturity. At 23 years old, he’s the oldest regular rookie on the team, though Anton Lindholm is also 23. The reason for his “advanced” age, of course, is Kerfoot went the NCAA route. He graduated from Harvard, so he played four years of NCAA hockey. (He was also the captain his final year.)

Playing college hockey means he didn’t play a lot of games — just two every weekend. Overall, he played 121 games, with 36 being the maximum in one season. He’s already played 40 this season.

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That might suggest Kerfoot doesn’t need more ice time — he’s already playing at a pace beyond what he’s used to. However, he certainly doesn’t appear to be slowed down by the pace. He has points in the last three games — two of those games were multi-point nights for Kerfoot.

Alexander Kerfoot is a natural playmaker — as he observed to Avs insider Adrian Dater, it’s never his first impulse to shoot. I think that makes Nail Yakupov a good linemate because Yakupov definitely likes to shoot. I wish they’d get their second linemate settled, though. J.T. Compher is a player who likes to both make plays and shoot, so that would seem a natural complement.

It’s hard to say how Kerfoot could get more ice time. Certainly the Soderberg line has earned its playing time. You could never make a case for supplanting one of the first-liners on the first power play unit. You could make a case for supplanting Jost on that unit, but I’m not going to.

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So, that leaves us at an impasse. Would Alexander Kerfoot benefit from more playing time? He’s shown that he has the stamina and the maturity to handle more. And he’s done plenty with less, so, yes, he would do well with more minutes. However, as the lineup stands, the Colorado Avalanche don’t have any more minutes to give to him.

Well, until there’s a way to give Kerfoot more ice time, we’ll just enjoy what he is doing for the Avs.