Most seasons are now a month along and all Avs prospects have now played games in some capacity. As things continue to ramp up many players have their eyes set on either a callup or a contract in just a few months’ time.
The majority of the Avs’ “NHL ready” prospects have already gotten a nod in some capacity or another due to the Avs continued pile of injured bodies. This has seen solid success at the pro level for some like Kaut but it has also opened up opportunities for prospects a bit further down the depth chart.
Oskar Olausson – RW round 1, pick 28, 2021
After a slow start to the AHL season, the Avs only remaining 1st round pick not in the NHL has put together 5 points in his last 6 games. While you still want to see a lot more consistency, particularly on the offensive end, it’s a good first step for Oskar’s pro career in North America. He continues to possess the tools to be an NHLer, now he needs to prove he can hang with the pros of the AHL every night.
Ivan Zhigalov – G (Kingston Frontenacs) round 7, pick 225, 2022
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It was inevitable that Zhigalov’s hot start was going to come back to earth but the regression has been brutal. Five straight games with a sub .900 sv% including two that didn’t even reach the .800 mark. The stretch is well represented by the devastation on his stat line and his season has flipped from being on top to trying to dig himself out of a hole.
Colby Ambrosio – C (Boston College) round 4, pick 118, 2020
Steady as she goes for Ambrosio who leads BC in scoring on the season at just under a point per game. This year’s BC team is not the best and Ambrosio is quickly becoming the go-to player there, BC has yet to win a game in which he did not produce a point. Given the lack of a team around this pace is solid for Ambrosio but you would like to see him keep it up as the season continues.
Sean Behrens – D (Denver) round 2, pick 61, 2021
It has become pretty clear Behrens is not going to match his production from last season. Part of that is a different DU team with different skill sets, and asking Behrens to do different things, but it’s still a touch disappointing. DU might not be the juggernaut they were but they’ve figured out their early season problems and have gotten on track. You would like to see Behrens do the same.
Andrei Buyalsky – C (Vermont) round 3, pick 92, 2021
Thirteen months later Buyalski finally has his first points as a collegiate hockey player. Happy for him but his production is still nowhere near what it needs to be and his on-ice impacts might be even further off than that. Maybe a full year of college hockey can get him up to speed and he can become a rare late bloomer but I’m tempering expectations heavily at this point.
Nicky Leivermann – D (Notre Dame) round 7, pick 187, 2017
Leivermann finally gets to be the unbridled offense defenseman he’s always wanted to be with ND. His production is solid and his play looks good as the Captain of the team but it’s hard to overlook his super senior status and age compared to the rest of the league. I still struggle to see a path to an NHL contract for Leivermann but the Avs are so depleted on the AHL blue line that anything is possible.
Taylor Makar – C (UMASS) round 7, pick 220, 2021
After a three-game stretch where it looked like Makar may have finally found his groove in the NCAA it was right back to low-visibility games. Not entirely unexpected but we won’t be seeing him sling-shot himself into relevance the way Stienburg did last season.
Matt Stienburg – C (Cornell) round 3, pick 63, 2019
Seeing some regression from last year is no surprise for Stienburg but this start has been slower than you wanted. For a player who relies heavily on his shooting and play in and around the net, he would do well to start potting some soon. It’s still early days as Cornell is one of the latest starting teams in the NCAA but the onus is on Stienburg to prove last year was not a one-hit wonder.
Nikolai Kovalenko – RW (Nizhny Novogorod Torpedo) round 6, pick 171, 2018
You know this story by now. Kovalenko continues to dominate in the KHL and if/when he shows interest in coming to North America you can bet the Avs will get him over. There’s a decent chance Kovalenko could jump right into the NHL today and it’s unlikely he would come over for anything less than that level of opportunity.
Chris Romaine – D (Omaha Lancers) round 6, pick 193, 2022
After starting the season on IR, Romaine finally got healthy and suited up for Omaha last week. Not much to report so far but with his plan to head to Providence College next year he is very much at the beginning of the long road of development