Colorado Avalanche Prospect Roundup & San Antonio Rampage Season Recap

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 09: San Antonio Rampage center Alex Belzile (55) during the regular season game between the San Jose Barracuda and the San Antonio Rampage on January 9, 2017 at SAP Center in San Jose, CA (Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 09: San Antonio Rampage center Alex Belzile (55) during the regular season game between the San Jose Barracuda and the San Antonio Rampage on January 9, 2017 at SAP Center in San Jose, CA (Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, are positioned in a playoff spot at the AHL All-Star Break. Let’s take a look back at the first half of the AHL season, and how the Colorado Avalanche’s prospects have been playing.

At the American Hockey League All-Star Break, the San Antonio Rampage have a 23-17-4 record, good enough for a .568 win %. Win % is the be all, and end all in AHL playoff positioning, as different teams play different amounts of games. No really. This win % is good enough to sit in fourth place in the Pacific Division, good enough for the final playoff spot there.

Trying to analyze the Rampage is a bit of a strange process. The Rampage are the top affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. However, they are also used by the St. Louis Blues, who are without a current AHL team of their own. It is an odd juxtaposition to analyze team success, while specifically focusing on only certain players.

The team’s success has been nice to see, though again, not all of that can be attributed to Avalanche prospects. The Rampage were under .500 in their first two years as an Avalanche affiliate. Now with help from the Blues, the team is challenging for the playoffs in a division were all eight teams are at, or above, the .500 mark.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of trying to evaluate Avalanche prospects in the AHL, is that most of the highly touted ones are already in the NHL. Colorado’s lack of organizational depth was one of their biggest shortfalls last season. While they have started to address the problem, it can’t be fixed overnight. With that in mind, here are a few of the best players on the Rampage, with Colorado ties.

Rocco Grimaldi

Rocco Grimaldi is the lone representative of the Rampage at the AHL All-Star Game, in Utica, NY. Jordan Schmaltz, a Blues prospect, was named, but unavailable for the game.

It should come as no surprise to Avalanche fans that Grimaldi has had great success at the AHL level. He has flashed some NHL ability in various call ups for the Avs. However, his lack of size and consistent defense have hurt him. His pure offensive abilities have been good enough to overcome those deficiencies in the AHL.

Grimaldi leads the Rampage with 13 goals at the break, in only 34 contests. His 23 points are good for second on the team. While he will likely never stick with the Avalanche, it is nice to see Grimaldi rewarded for his skills at the AHL level with a well-deserved trip to Utica.

Dominic Toninato

Dominic Toninato has shown the ability to develop into a bottom six NHL forward in his various call-ups throughout the season. However, he has also shown a few offensive flashes at the AHL level. in 31 games, he has 7 goals. This is not a ton, by any stretch, but he has shown a nice finishing touch on some of his tallies.

More from Mile High Sticking

AJ Greer

AJ Greer has had one of the more frustrating seasons within the Avalanche organization. Colorado’s second round pick in 2015, Greer has been limited to 30 total games so far. He has been largely unimpressive in the NHL with only 2 points in 12 games. However, with the Rampage, he has managed 10 points in 18 games. I think it would behoove Greer to stay in San Antonio to continue to develop his game, especially his offense.

Andrei Mironov

Since Andrei Mironov was sent to San Antonio after a lackluster start to his rookie campaign with the Colorado Avalanche, he has begun to adjust to the North American game. Mironov has 9 points in 22 games for S. A. He also has been good for the Rampage on their penalty kill. Most encouragingly of all, he has started to use his size to his benefit.

Spencer Martin

Spencer Martin has had an average season for the Rampage. He has a 12-10-3 record, with a .901 save %, and 2.83 GAA. These numbers are not bad, but the Avalanche certainly were hoping that Martin would be developing into a star goalie at the AHL level. The next step from there would have been a spot on the 2018-19 Avalanche NHL roster.

Again, while Martin has been ok, I think most of the optimism that he could challenge for next year’s NHL roster has dampened. This is true especially next to Ville Husso, a Blues prospect. With the same team in front of him, Husso has posted a 2.30 GAA and .931 save % in 20 games. As the playoffs draw nearer, it will be curious to see which goalie gets to play in big games.

Next: Colorado Avalanche Need Sustained Success to Make Rebuild Stick

Alex Belzile

Finally, I end this article with a player who has more ties to the Colorado Eagles, of the ECHL, than the Colorado Avalanche. Alex Belzile is in his third year with the Avalanche organization. He was undrafted and is playing on an AHL contract. Last season, Belzile played 45 games for the Rampage, only tallying 12 points. He was often not given a lot of high quality ice time.

At the end of the year, Belzile was sent to the Colorado Eagles, where he caught fire. He put up 27 points in 17 regular season games, and then spearheaded the Eagles to a Kelly Cup. He registered 26 points in 18 playoff games. This year, Belzile has 21 points in 35 games for the Rampage, and is receiving more of an opportunity to succeed. While he will likely never appear for the Avs, it is nice to see a player rise through the organization and have success.