Ross Colton joins the Colorado Avalanche after being acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Avalanche sent the 37th overall pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft to the Tampa Lightning to acquire the RFA rights to Colton, and then proceeded to sign him to a 4-year, $16 million contract. With the departures of players like Alex Newhook and J.T. Compher, the Avalanche needed depth for their bottom-six forward group and found a potential steal in Colton.
Colton was a 4th round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and has been exactly what the Lightning needed in ensuring their core roster remained intact while filling other positions with cheaper contracts. The Colorado Avalanche needed a similar player and made their move in securing his services.
Colton joins the Avalanche roster knowing what is expected of him: skate 3rd/4th line minutes, eat PK time while limiting scoring opportunities, and win pivotal faceoffs that will allow the Avalanche to use mismatched lines to their advantage. While Alex Newhook was given the opportunity to grow and develop into what Ross currently is, the Avalanche are looking at their window of opportunity for multiple Stanley Cup titles and aren’t willing to wait. Colton has played comparable minutes to what Newhook offered but is a better-developed version of what the Avalanche need moving forward.
In securing Ross Colton as one of the 3rd/4th line centers, the Avalanche have given head coach Jared Bednar one less player in need of development and he replaces the loss of players like J.T. Compher and Alex Newhook. while Ross may end up skating alongside some younger skaters from the Colorado Eagles for most of the season, the hope is that as a unit they will still eat up some valuable minutes, keeping the Avalanche’s top scorers as fresh as possible for top-scoring opportunities throughout the season.
Colton’s ATOI lingers around 12:21/game, falling more in line with the minutes skated by Alex Newhook (ATOI 13:34). It would be a boon to see those minutes creep closer to those accomplished by J.T Compher (Career ATOI 17:02), but the Avalanche don’t need Colton to play 2nd line minutes like Compher had to last season. Any number of minutes skated by Colton will be a big help in the overall scheme of the Avalanche this season, as the chase begins anew for another Stanley Cup title.