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Avalanche Roundtable: Black Aces

AJ Haefele Avatar
May 27, 2020

The playoffs are coming with the NHL’s official announcement yesterday. While that will focus primarily on the format and the details of the draft, it should also include something about what teams are going to look like upon their return.

We’ve touched on this a little bit already but I want to get into the idea of teams carrying a 28-skater roster through these playoffs. This gets us to today’s topic: Which young players would you like to see on Colorado’s playoff roster, even if they are there just to practice?

AJ: I think this is an opportunity to give some of the kids they’re serious about getting a look at how real the playoffs can get. The atmosphere, the day-to-day commitment, the work ethic it takes to win a Stanley Cup. It’s mythologized at every level of the sport but nothing beats hands-on experience. For me, that means three players specifically should be on the roster, even if the Avs have zero intention of playing them. Bowen Byram, Martin Kaut, and Shane Bowers should all be involved.

Get those three players into the practices and get going. Byram and Kaut already would appear to have inside tracks on roster spots next season and this can serve almost as a miniature training camp before next season. Bowers can get reacquainted with his hockey dad and get a taste of the action, too.

Evan: If you really are only able to carry a 30 man roster for this run, then I think that will lead to one young player not making the cut simply due to the coaches wanting to go with a guy they have some history with. Jared Bednar loved Shane Bowers in the preseason, but the fact of the matter is he didn’t get a look in the regular season even with all the injuries, and as high as they may be on him, I think they realistically will want someone they have an idea of what they’re getting from.

There are already some veterans that we know are getting spots, like Connauton and Hutchinson, so that’s already digging into those extra spots. Kaut, I would have to imagine, is a lock for one of the forward extra spots given how he performed. That only leaves a few more, and although it would seem unlikely they have to use a guy that far down the depth chart, you just never know, so that’s why I think Bowers gets left out. I can see Byram getting brought in to practice and get familiar with the staff, systems, etc. because he certainly isn’t going back to the WHL next year, but Bowers just barely misses the cut for me.

Rudo: Both Timmins and Kaut have NHL games under their belt this season and both should be black aces. Timmins is an easy one to throw on the roster, I would have him as the eighth defenseman with a real chance to play but if the Avs want him as a ninth or maybe even tenth depending on how many they carry that’s fine too. Kaut has certainly proven to be effective at the NHL level but that conversation has a couple more layers.

Firstly when the NHL returns the Avs will likely have 15 healthy NHL forwards right off the bat making Kaut a deep option and secondly having already played nine games his contract is at risk of not sliding. As both AJ and Evan have pointed out on the pod, no one cares about that contract year if you win the cup. While I think both are unlikely to actually play in games it’s not like there are other hockey options going on for them and getting big-league practices and being a part of the playoff atmosphere would be good for them. In a perfect world, the Avs stay healthy and it’s a nonfactor in games but at a certain point with injuries, you have to rely on the prospect pool you’ve built.

Byram may sneak on as the last man on the roster or something to that effect and I don’t see room for Bowers, the Avs almost always trend toward NHL experience when in a pinch and those two do not have it.

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